Conor McGregor's coach spots something about Eddie Alvarez that could prove significant for the fight
It's the smallest of details, but it could be a significant factor in the lightweight superfight between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
McGregor is known for being ice-cold and confident going into fights - no matter how huge the occasion. His cool-headedness and calculation saw him land the killer blow on featherweight king Jose Aldo in 13 seconds.
So far Eddie Alvarez has appeared ultra confident and bullish about his chances of beating the Irishman when the pair clash at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
He called McGregor 'the easy option' in a division stacked with fighting talent and warned the Dubliner he's never faced anyone quite like him. The lightweight king even reckons his opponent is 'on tilt' after getting under his skin at the press conference.
But like McGregor once said fighting him is a 'whole other ball game' and his coach John Kavanagh spotted something which might show the pressure of the big occasion is getting to him more than he's letting on.
The SBG coach was on the MMA Hour and Ariel Helwani asked if he'd noticed anything from Alvarez's demeanour in the build up to this huge and historic fight that might represent 'cracks appearing'.
''These guys are super-tough athletes and Eddie has been there and back. He's probably never felt this type of build up.
''This will be different than anything he's done before. Maybe Conor has a bit more experience dealing with the big show. We had a year build up for the Aldo fight, so a bit more experience with that.
''Will that have a major effect on the contest - I don't think so. Eddie has a lot of experience in that.''
But there was one minute detail that Kavanagh did notice about Alvarez which has is obviously reading into - that was the shiner he was sporting with just days to go before the contest.
''I did notice he has a pretty good black eye there.
''I saw that on the (UFC) Embedded and that was eight days out.
''Sometimes Julian Dalby will call that 'anxiety training' where you feel a big is contest coming up so you go extra hard.
''You have to balance out, eight days, nine days out, a really tough and hard sparring session - how much skill improvement can you get? And is that micro- per cent worth walking in seven or eight days later bruised and sore? No, is the answer.
''Your skill development is over months not over a session, so we kind of stopped any of the heavy contact sessions over two weeks out because there's nothing really to be gained from that other than knocks and bangs.
''But anxiety will sometimes make you do it.
'''I have to do another heavy one. I have to do another hard one because of this big contest coming up'. Like I said that's anxiety training.
''It doesn't actually lead to a massive improvement on skill if you were to measure it.
''What's much better to do at that stage is start focusing on rest and recovery.''
It's certainly an interesting perspective and it could inadvertently show that Alvarez is feeling the heat ahead of the biggest show in UFC history.
Whether he will come into the fight rested and recovered or whether he will be stepping into the Octagon carrying knocks, over-trained or with any kind of anxiety could have a bearing on the contest.
In that same video the Underground King says "We can't let the cameras in on our secrets, unfortunately'' as he and Frankie Edgar exit the cage after a hard session.
It's clear the Philadelphia fighter is working on some things for McGregor and he may have some tricks up his sleeve like the clever footwork he used to land the shot that finished lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.
This was another think Helwani picked up on in his chat with Kavanagh - what gameplan they reckon Alvarez is going to show up with.
While Kavanagh acknowledged that the American's camp are working on ways to exploit holes in McGregor's game, that it's a different story when you're in there facing him.
''It happens so often, that when they do go in there, the talk goes out the window and they get cracked with a couple of clean jabs and then it quickly becomes head down and get back to what you know, what got you there and what you're good at - for Eddie that's that mauling, grappling style that he did against Pettis.''
So what's Kavanagh's prediction for the fight? He's going to a second round finish for his man and explained why and even gave a precise time, if you're a betting man
''I will go second round. I do think round one will be a lot on the fence. It's an exhausting style. Especially the way Conor can defend himself on the fence without really relying on muscle. He relies on posture, which is not tiring.
''It just takes one break. I can see round one being just that style - being pushed to the fence and held there.
''But then round two they start separated again. The shot won't be quite as fast, the muscles won't be quite as energetic and he's a slippery customer to try and hold for that length of time.
''I think around the eight minute it will happen.''
It's a bold prediction, especially against a fighter as durable and tenacious as Alvarez. But Kavanagh will feel like they've proved the doubters wrong time and time again. All we know is that Saturday night, it's going to be one hell of a fight.
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