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John Kavanagh: Eddie Alvarez no concern to McGregor, Chad Mendes more difficult wrestler

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The longtime coach of Conor McGregor and Straight Blast Gym head honcho John Kavanagh wades in on his protege’s next opponent, Eddie Alvarez.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, November 12th represents an historical moment in mixed martial arts history. Not only will the once ‘barbaric’ sport step foot inside of New York City for the first time, the current featherweight champion Conor McGregor has the opportunity to be the UFC’s first simultaneous two-weight champion as he takes on lightweight king Eddie Alvarez.

Like most facets of his celebrity life, McGregor’s preparations have been under scrutiny, starting when he suffered his first UFC loss to Nate Diaz. Losing to Diaz via submission at UFC 196 exposed holes in his ground game, and adding to his woes that night, his cardio failed him. The cracks in his once impregnable armour resulted in his fight camps being under intense examination going forward; fans, fighters and media all had their say – but the 145-pound champion stepped up to the plate.

His rematch with Diaz at UFC 202 saw him enlist the help of Dillon Danis, a renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Marcelo Garcia, and Conor Wallace, a lanky southpaw boxer. Danis and Wallace were the antidote to Diaz, a statement that McGregor was learning, improving, and willing to accept change. But Diaz was a difficult body to prepare for, his unusually effective southpaw style, piston-like punches and unworldly cardio meant that he was difficult to emulate, but not like Alvarez, as Kavanagh told The42.ie:

“Obviously sparring partners now, we’re back to orthodox. You know we did find Conor Wallace, but it wasn’t an easy find to find the right person to try and imitate that style [of Diaz]. Finding an orthodox guy, with basic striking skills and strong wrestling skills is a lot easier, it’s a lot more straightforward. And it’s also a lot more familiar to Conor, the guy that kind of throws the overhand right and then will just try to grind him down on the fence, we’ve faced that since we went into the UFC, and even before then.”

“We’re lucky we have Sergey [Pikulskiy], his wrestling coach for the last seven years, seven or eight years, he’s almost physically a double for Eddie. About 5’7″, similar weight. I would consider Sergey a much slicker wrestler, but he can mimic that grinding style of wrestling as well.”

Kavanagh is one of the most respected trainers in the sport today, understandable having produced one the most famous athletes the world has ever seen. But at this elite level, it’s not just great fighters that are pitched against each other, it’s also great tacticians behind the scenes that battle it out like a dangerous game of chess.

Like Alvarez’s moniker “The Underground King”, his coach Mark Henry has an almost cult-like and sometimes underappreciated reputation as a mixed martial arts trainer. Longtime coach of UFC legend Frankie Edgar, Henry has been openly critical of McGregor, and Kavanagh has returned the favour. When asked whether the current lightweight champion poses any concern to the Irish superstar, Kavanagh replied “not really,” and the comparisons between Alvarez and Chad Mendes began:

“We didn’t have a huge training camp for Mendes, and I consider him almost a more difficult wrestler to deal with because he’s so short, it’s easier for him to get underneath Conor’s shots. Eddie, for some reason he’s on the webiste as being the same height as Conor, but you put them together, they’re not. I guess Conor’s about 5’10” and Eddie’s maybe 5’7″,but there’s not that much of a height difference that if Conor bends his knees a little bit he’s going to eye-level with him. So it’s a little bit easier dealing with someone close to your own height shooting in.”

“Then of course the lead up to the Mendes fight, with the knee injury [McGregor’s], we weren’t able to do a lot of wrestling, and also because we were preparing for Aldo [Jose], we didn’t do a whole lot of wrestling anyway. The one or two takedowns in that fight [against Mendes], Conor almost just gave them just to secure guard, rather than fight them hard and possibly injury his knee.”

Famed for his dogged, pressuring, wrestling style, Alvarez will no doubt look to dominate McGregor in the clinch and on the mat, much like he did against another creatively unorthodox striker, Anthony Pettis. But Kavanagh has a very different expectation in this department come November 12th.

“Any takedown Eddie gets, he’s going to have to fight tooth and nail for it, and even if he does get a takedown, it’s going to be an exhausting process. Conor’s very very difficult to take down, and even if you do get him down he’s  very very difficult to hold down. And if you are holding him down, you’re going to be eating big elbows, submission attempts. He’s going to be talking in your ear, reminding him how tiring it’s getting. He’s a tough guy for anyone.”

Join us at MMA Latest to witness history this coming Saturday, November 12th. We’ll have you covered every step of the way.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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