UFC 205 Picks
When: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
by Scott of Predictem.com
UFC 205 is a major event on many different fronts. The main one is that the sport returns to the Big Apple after a 20-year absence. That opens up a whole bevy of possibilities as it pertains to the further growth of the sport. And it’s a double-championship bill, as the UFC brass made sure to make their return to New York a massive event. The biggest star in the sport, Conor McGregor, is in the main event, taking on UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez for his second UFC belt. In the co-main event, UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley makes the first defense of his belt against the man some feel is the heir-apparent at 170—Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Eddie Alvarez, 28-4 (15 KOs, 7 Submissions), (+130) vs. Conor McGregor, 20-3 (17 KOs, 1 Submission), (-150)In the UFC 205 main event, UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez makes the first defense of his title against Conor McGregor. It’s a big fight to headline New York’s first UFC event in 20 years. Alvarez, 32, won the title with an upset smashing of Rafael dos Anjos in July, a first-round KO that saw Alvarez finally achieve his goal of winning UFC gold. But his first defense is difficult against the top draw in the UFC—featherweight champion Conor McGregor. The Irishman goes for his second title after avenging his first UFC loss with a decision over Nate Diaz in August.
Alvarez’ road to the title was a long and bumpy one. A 13-year pro, Alvarez is a battle-hardened and experienced. They threw him to the lions to begin his UFC tenure, as he lost to Donald Cerrone and edged a decision over Gilbert Melendez. After beating Anthony Pettis, he earned the shot as dos Anjos, who was in the midst of building a powerful resume on the heels of some ultra-dominant performances against the best in the business. With Alvarez struggling in all of his UFC bouts, the public was certainly skeptical of his chances against the dominant dos Anjos. A first-round KO put an end to that.
Alvarez works with good people and has built up his wrestling under the stewardship of trainer Mark Henry. He has become a complete fighter, capable of crisp and hard-hitting boxing, in addition to being at home on the ground. He seemed surer of himself in his title win, as things seemed to just finally come together for the talented veteran. When a fighter delivers his best performance in the biggest spot, it’s hard to think he will be overwhelmed by the magnitude of this event. This is by far the biggest spot of his career, where the lights will be shining brighter than ever. Anticipating Alvarez melting in the brighter spotlight could prove to be a bad miscalculation.
McGregor, 28, came back to beat Diaz and showed a lot of moxie and grit in reversing what was a most emphatic win. Back down at a more-natural 155 pounds, he is more in his wheelhouse as it relates to size. And that could result in his shots having a greater affect, as his power was dulled in his last two fights due to a big and sudden rise in weight. And he knows that at the top levels of this sport, there are no walks in the park, as hubris likely played a role in the loss to Diaz.
McGregor is fighting a peaking battler in Alvarez who can put an opponent through a lot of distress. The one concern for McGregor is the hectic schedule. He went from a loss to Diaz to preparing for the rematch, followed by a draining 5-rounder and right into this. He better be in some kind of shape or he’ll find himself drowning in the deep water. By defeating a beefed-up Diaz, though, McGregor showed he can thrive with guys this size. After two fights with Diaz, Alvarez might actually seem small.
Alvarez is a handful for any 155-pounder who ever lived. He has polish, skills, and experience at the highest level. I see McGregor’s speed playing a big role. And that straight left is a demon, as Nate Diaz found out. It’s not clear how well Alvarez will be able to stand up to that. Either way, I see McGregor crossing the finish line ahead.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Conor McGregor to win at -150. He has the more eye-popping skills and the more-bankable one-punch power. Alvarez is going to be tough, but is the iffier proposition at the absolutely top levels of the sport. Bet your pick to win the Alvarez/McGregor fight using your credit card and take advantage of a hefty 50% signup bonus at MyBookie.
Tyron Woodley, 16-3, (6 KOs, 5 Submissions), (+160) vs. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, 13-1 (7 KOs, 1 Submission), (-185)Tyron Woodley defends his UFC 170-pound title against top-rated challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in the co-main event of UFC 205. Woodley was able to rise to the top in his last fight, a July first-round knockout of champion Robbie Lawler. After some ups and downs, he was able to deliver in the biggest fight of his life, against a veteran who hadn’t been stopped in a decade. But defending the title might be tougher, as “Wonderboy” is a handful and has distinguished himself with a handful of impressive performances.
Woodley has undeniably heavy hands and his punches are like mini-cinder blocks landing. Robbie Lawler has always shown himself to be resilient to strikes, but was quickly demolished by the blows of Woodley. In Lawler, however, Woodley may have benefitted from facing a fighter who has started to feel the affects of many difficult fights to get to the title. He’s facing a fresher fighter this time around in Thompson. The challenger is only a year younger than Lawler and Woodley at 33, but hasn’t sustained much damage and is definitely at or nearing his peak.
Thompson joined the UFC in 2012 with his previous fighting experience coming in martial arts and kickboxing. His second fight in the organization was against the tough Matt Brown, a fight which Thompson lost in his only defeat. But he came around and is now on a 7-fight win streak that includes wins over Chris Clements, Jake Ellenberger, Patrick Cote, Johny Hendricks, and Rory MacDonald. The wins over Hendricks and MacDonald underlined his vast potential. Thompson is a bit unusual, with a karate-infused style wrapped up in a kickboxer’s package. He has developed good takedown defense. He lashes out with a vast array of different strikes, most of them thrown with great velocity and suddenness.
Woodley might have more dimensions, with his wrestling and striking prowess. But Thompson has a way of putting fighters in a reactionary mode. Woodley was certainly offensive in his last outing, but we’ve seen him be put in defensive postures before and Thompson is hoping for that in this fight. Still, Woodley has options in this fight. It’s not hard imagining one of his bombs landing or him being able to get this to the ground.
I see the fleet-of-foot Thompson playing it safe early, as he picks his spots. As the fight carries on, he will start unraveling his vast repertoire. There will be anxious moments, but Woodley will find himself a step behind the speedy Wonderboy. You can only have so much confidence when facing a dangerous guy like Woodley, but I see Thompson as the more-compelling package of skills.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at -185. Woodley is exceedingly dangerous as he showed by winning the belt. Thompson knows this and will be cautious, before his greater speed and striking variety shines through. Bet your Woodley/Thompson prediction at the online bookie that offers the most MMA wagering options and reduced odds as well: 5Dimes.
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