Eddie Alvarez implores Michael Chandler to wrestle Conor McGregor early in their fight
McGregor and Chandler coached on Season 31 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which debuts May 30 on ESPN and ESPN+. Episodes will air Tuesdays with a season finale set for Aug. 15. The pair are expected to fight later this year, with McGregor teasing a fight announcement soon.
Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC), a former Bellator champion, has thrilled fans in his five UFC bouts with both Knockout and Fight of the Year contenders. But against a sharp and technical striker such as McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Alvarez said throwing caution to the wind will be his downfall if he doesn’t mix things up.
“Mike Chandler is a hell of an athlete,” Alvarez told ESPN. “I just think stylistically, the way he’s been fighting and the strategy he’s been going about fighting isn’t the way to get it done against Conor McGregor. And I would implore him if I was his coach to change his style, to go for single legs, to go for shots, and force Conor to wrestle early.
“You have to force him to wrestle early so he don’t have the powerful tools that he’s able to take advantage of (against) all these other guys – quick feet, good range, great striking. You take that away when you wrestle him early. Wrestle him early enough and tire his shoulders down, tire his legs down, slow him down, and he’s half the striker that he can be when he’s fully energized.”
Alvarez experienced first hand what McGregor is like when he’s on point with his striking as he lost his lightweight title to him by lopsided TKO in 2016. However, Alvarez said that was when McGregor was hungry and active. He doesn’t expect him to be the exact same version that beat him when he returns for the first time since in more than two years.
“Hell of a fight and a lot of questions would be answered with Conor’s time off,” Alvarez said. “Conor, of course, is not going to be the same Conor that he was back during his Jose Aldo, Nate Diaz, myself when he was fighting them, you know. He was quite active.
“He was fighting three and four times a year. So we wouldn’t expect the same exact guy who was excited about winning world titles, but will we see that resurgence of energy, enjoyment and excitement and gratitude toward the game of MMA? And I feel like we will.”