What is Mixed Martial Arts? MMA is a mix of all martial art forms from Boxing to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is one of the hardest and toughest sports out there today. It is also the fastest growing spectator sport, with millions of viewers from around the world. On November 12 MMA’s popularity surged to a whole new level when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sold out the famous Madison Square Garden venue for the first time. This was the debut MMA event in the state of New York, as it was illegal to host any MMA event until early 2016, after cleaning up a history of political corruption associated with promoting the sport. The UFC took full advantage of hosting the first ever MMA event in New York and did so by stacking the card with former and current champions, such as Tyron Woodley and Miesha Tate.
Among the many bouts, there was one fight that had everyone talking. The fight between The Notorious Conor McGregor, the featherweight (145lb/65kg) champion, and The Underground King – Eddie Alvarez, the lightweight (155lb/70kg) champion. This was such a significant fight because McGregor was contending to become the first UFC fighter to hold two belts in two different weight classes simultaneously.
As fight week rolled around in New York, the Irish native provoked Alvarez by taking his belt during the pre-fight press conference and, in typical style, throwing a tremendous number of verbal jibes at his competitor, with such taunts as: “His(Alvarez’s) wife and kids won’t ever recognize him again” after their bout on Saturday night. This is nothing new for McGregor, as he tends to play the mental warfare game by talking trash to his opponents before their bout.
A good example of McGregor getting into his opponent’s head would be when he faced Jose Aldo, the former Featherweight champion. He had talked so much trash to Aldo that it ultimately affected his performance inside the octagon; he saw his own ten-year undefeated streak come to an end as he was knocked out cold in 13 seconds. Perhaps McGregor was not really inside Alvarez’s head, but one can imagine that the defending title-holder Alvarez’s wanted to prove a point by beating McGregor in impressive fashion.
And an impressive fashion it was, but for McGregor! The Irishman displayed his impressive boxing skills as he hit the back, landing counter left-handed blows in repetitive fashion. This is most successful against short fighters with a reach handicap. Alvarez, who had a five-inch reach deficit tried his best to box with the much bigger McGregor, but was not successful as he kept getting caught with McGregor’s piston of a left hand. The left hand played a big role in the fight as McGregor cracked and dropped Alvarez three times in the first round.
As the first round ended you could hear the roar of the Irish fans as if McGregor had already won. With the second round beginning McGregor walked down Alvarez and
repeatedly countered the right hand. As McGregor got more comfortable in the second round he put his hands behind his back to play mind games with Alvarez, implying that he was the better fighter. McGregor’s timing was on point. As Lucas Khoo, an MMA fan said, “It was almost like he was seeing the punches in slow motion.” As time ticked on it was inevitable that McGregor was going to knock Alvarez out.
(A beautiful back-skipping counter left hand displayed by McGregor) Video: UFC
Three minutes into the second round, Alvarez threw a big right hand in which McGregor responded with a beautiful four piece combo. Hitting Alvarez’s chin with the first and second punch, and ending the combo by hitting him in the temple. This stunned Alvarez as he hit the floor for the fourth and final time, knocking him out. The combo was so impressive that Kio Underwood claimed: “It was the most beautiful and accurate combo I’ve seen in my life.”
(The four piece combination that ended Eddie Alvarez) Video: UFC
As McGregor took the mic in the post fight interview he was asked did anything surprise you in the fight, and he responded in typical McGregor fashion saying,
“Not one bit, they’re not on my level. You have to have size, reach, length… you got to have some attributes. If you come in here equal to me I’m going to rip your whole head off.”
As the event came to an end it started to sink in that McGregor was a once in a lifetime athlete. We have never seen anyone quite like him, one that can talk the trash and then back it up with his performance inside the octagon. Not to forget he became the first-ever UFC fighter to hold two belts consecutively. As for the UFC, they had pulled off the highest ever gate at Madison Square Garden, taking in $17.7 million dollars, and they had gained many more fans in the process. The next steps for McGregor seems unclear, but what is clear is that we witnessed MMA history being made.