Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Because You Didn't Ask: My Thoughts on McGregor vs Mendes

Slept more than 5 hours for the first time since Saturday night. Got up and hit the gym for some NoGi training (le sigh). I'll be working Saturday night downtown because there's a shortage of dudes in this town who want to work the door. Go figure.
I can rarely find someone to cover my shift, and with the fight this Saturday, half the dudes I know already took off.

I went back and watched Mendes vs Aldo II, and Mendes vs Lamas for additional food for thought/analysis.

I think there's more to be learned from the fight with Lamas than the 2nd Aldo fight, actually.
Aldo stood upright, in the pocket, primarily punching against Mendes, right in range and Aldo paid for it in a close fight that saw him more busted up than any of his other fights I've seen.

I don't see McGregor fighting that type of fight at all.
McGregor also doesn't punch like Lamas, and by that, I mean head forward, big overhand right for power (which is how Lamas got caught in a right hand exchange with Mendes which spelled the end.
Up until then, Lamas was actually doing quite well in the stand up, with solid movement, good mix of kicks et cetera. I say that as someone who is not a huge Lamas fan. Mendes at times looked a bit impatient with all of Lamas' movement, but capitalized when Lamas stopped for a second to load up on a big right hand  with his heels on the cage.
With his reach footwork, McGregor manages much like a featherweight Nick Diaz to feel like he's in your face but is just out of range or moving out of range when tagged in range and guys seem to wilt under that distance/feeling in a round or less. Max Holloway is one of the few to withstand the assault and last 3 rounds. McGregor is a sharpshooter and by that I mean his punches don't look powerful but they are precise and he catches guys right on the end of his punches while staying right out of their range or lessening the damage when getting punched and countering.

Some thoughts on how McGregor might lose?
In the Holloway fight, I did see some instances of McGregor rather lazily shooting his right hand and not bring it back. I could see a short, overhand right counter from Mendes putting him on the deck to be honest, but I think having tasted Holloway's power, McGregor was growing increasingly comfortabel and picking his shots.
McGregor as a southpaw, the left hook/right hand combo is his biggest danger spot coming from Mendes because of his southpaw stance but I honestly think McGregor's movement and footwork will help him avoid much of the damage Aldo took in the 2nd match-up with Mendes' improved striking.

I don't see McGregor fighting that way at all if any of his fights in the UFC are an indication. I did see an interesting moment in the fight when Mendes did his level change/fake shot step and Lamas made him pay with an uppercut.

I'm big on watching guys and their body language up until the fight and in video interviews. There was a moment, during a conference call on the Countdown segment or perhaps the Embedded one, whatever, and Chad said something afterward about how "well, he hasn't gotten in my head like other guys because I haven't had to hear his talk all this time." Something about it, like reverse psychology, or like a kid saying they don't believe in was very telling to me. I think McGregor is in his head a bit, from when Mendes was lobbying for a fight with McGregor and they verbally sparred a few times.
 Mendes trying to tell himself that fighting on two weeks is an advantage, also very telling, a pure rationalization if I ever heard one. I think its a win-win for Mendes in that if he loses he can chalk it up to late notice, but it's also essentially the 3rd time he's fighting for the belt and perhaps the "if you're Team Alpha Male and not TJ Dillashaw" curse will rear it's ugly head. 

Go back and watch the Marcus Brimage fight, another guy who came out, a bit impatient, and paid via uppercut which set up the finish against McGregor. McGregor has a punishing uppercut/hook combo he fires that doens't look super powerful but hurts guys. He also throws a great right hand to the top of the head/backside punch (ala Brimage and Poirier) that I could easily see hurting the shorter, more compact Mendes with his shorter arms that won't block the same surface area of someone, say, like Aldo.

This is one of those fights I can tell I'm either reading completely right or will be completely wrong, but that's why it's called gambling. I've got some sizable money wagered on this card and some of the lines actually aren't bad.

I frankly don't see this fight with Lawler/MacDonald going any differently except perhaps Lawler stopping Rory in the 4th or even 5th ala the way Carlos Condit did to Rory.

Rory seems to have been infected by that techincal/finesse side of fighting that a guy like Lawler wears down and feasts on over the course of a longer fight.

It's a good card with some entertaining fighters like Tim Means, Lawler, McGregor, Mendes, Almeida, Gunnar Nelson, Pickett et al.

What more could you want for a dual title fight card?

Enjoy it for me, I'l be watching the prelims then working the door downtwon then up again for open mat Sunday.

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