This week’s edition of the Sunday Supplement takes an in depth look at the huge UFC 205 main event between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez as well as a story on Combate Americas.
McGregor vs. Alvarez: The announcement and fallout
This week saw the UFC pull something special out of the bag which changed the face and whole perception of the UFC 205 card, delivering a main event, high caliber enough to headline the first ever UFC event at Madison Square Garden.
On Monday, the UFC announced Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez for the UFC Lightweight Title as the main event for UFC 205.
After many rumors and much speculation about Conor McGregor being on the card and who Eddie Alvarez’s next challenger would be, finally we had a straight answer and one that everyone was hoping for.
Dana White had ruled out the fight last week in an attempt to throw everyone off the scent, instead promoting a fight between Eddie Alvarez and Khabib Nurmagomedov next as well as a rematch between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, neither to be held at UFC 205.
However, this fight between McGregor and Alvarez was inevitable and, without it, the UFC 205 card would have been a disappointment.
This fight delivers on all levels. The star power and drawing ability of Conor McGregor, the skill of both fighters involved, the super-fight aspect of two champions facing off (for the first time in seven years, also), and the prospect of McGregor becoming a two-weight champion, something which has never been done in the UFC, this fight has historic implications and that matches the historic debut of the UFC in the fabled Madison Square Garden.
The fight has already started to pay dividends with the UFC 205 press conference, where Conor McGregor delivered a top drawer performance, showing himself to be the star of the show once again, taking over the entire proceeding and delivering trademark putdowns to Alvarez who seemed unable to gain any ground back on McGregor verbally.
The first faceoff followed and the build for this one can seemingly only get better from here, which will surely deliver a lot of PPV buys. McGregor, who according to his own words is closing in on making $40 million this year, looks to break his own PPV records on the biggest card in UFC history, in the most famous venue in the world. The stars are aligned for a record breaking night in every way.
The fallout of the announcement and press conference, however, has left a very sour taste in one fighter’s mouth and that is the current interim UFC Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo.
Aldo wanted his rematch with McGregor to unify the titles and wants to quit the UFC now because he did not get the fight. He was offered the chance to fight on the 205 card still against either Max Holloway or Anthony Pettis, but turned both down due to the fact that he needed a “full camp,” which doesn’t make sense if he wanted to fight McGregor at the event still.
It seems like these days that all Aldo wants is another fight with McGregor. His obsession and fixation these days on the Irishman is holding his career back and could end up being the reason that it prematurely ends.
McGregor is in a different league star-power-wise now than Aldo and much more important to the UFC these day than merely just the champion of the Featherweight Division. That means that Aldo will probably have a long wait for this fight, if it ever happens again at all.
I can see why Aldo wouldn’t trust a word that Dana White says these days as he is usually saying one thing and doing another or trying to throw people off the scent of what is actually going on behind the scenes. However, Aldo should also understand that business is business and the big fight was needed to sell UFC 205. Dana White is hoping to keep Aldo around, of course, and is working on that end to smooth things over, but it isn’t looking likely at this point which could mean the end for Jose Aldo.
Whatever happens, McGregor vs. Alvarez has caused a big splash and that is exactly what the UFC 205 card needed.
Combate Americas: MMA Brotherhood
I wanted to give this story a special mention this week coming from Combate Americas, UFC co-creator Campbell McLaren’s latest MMA promotion.
Of course not everyone is onto a $40 million year like Conor McGregor and fighters outside of the very top level in the UFC can struggle to make ends meet from fighting.
Angel Cruz was due to face Erick Sanchez at Combate OCHO in August. However, Sanchez had to pull out due to a staph infection which left Cruz hanging and looking for a new opponent to keep the fight on the card.
Things looked bleak until John Castaneda, who trains under Greg Nelson in Minnesota (who trained the likes of Brock Lesnar and Sean Sherk), decided to step in and take the fight despite already have a shot at the Combate Americas Bantamweight Title guaranteed after a win back in April. A loss here would have put that title shot in jeopardy.
In Combate Americas, owner Campbell McLaren gives out post-fight bonuses much like in the UFC. However, he awards his fighters a finish bonus rather than Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night, etc.
Each fighter who wins by KO/TKO or submission gets a bonus of $2,000, done to encourage exciting fights.
The fight took place on Aug. 11 in Los Angeles, California and Castaneda would go onto win via TKO, keeping his title shot and of course winning a finish bonus.
The story came out this week that before the fight, Cruz and Castaneda had spoken to each other and Castaneda had learned a bit about Cruz’s family after he thanked him for taking the fight because he needed the money. Castaneda saw this situation and after the fight told boss Campbell McLaren to give his finish bonus to Cruz.
It’s amazing to hear something like this in a sport built on an “every man for himself, dog eat dog environment.” According to reports, Castaneda has another job outside of fighting as well, so he isn’t getting rich from fighting by any means, which makes his decision all the more admirable.
Castaneda said giving the bonus to Cruz was the right thing to do. He said his main reason for giving it was all about Cruz’s family, because Cruz was supporting his family with this fight and he felt like he could do without it as he wasn’t expecting the money anyway after taking the fight on short notice.
You don’t hear about this kind of selflessness in sports very often. This shows the brotherhood between MMA fighters at times, as often fighting brings great mutual respect.
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(D.R. Webster writes “The Sunday Supplement” for MMATorch each week and also authors the MMATorch Daily Trivia feature. He has written for Daily Record Sport, WrestleTalk TV, Sports Kings, and a variety of other combat sports sites and publications, includinv review shows and DVDs, news reporting, columns, and fantasy articles.)