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Who will win Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez fight at UFC 205? Keys to Victory!

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

And here we go! We are just hours away from one of the most anticipated title fights of all time and the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) event in the history of the sport. If that doesn't get your blood boiling then I don't know what will. Maybe a brisk swim across the Atlantic? Or possibly a triple threat match with two African lions? Let's hope neither one of those are available options to you on this fine November weekend and let's further hope that you're going to catch Eddie Alvarez putting his newly acquired Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title on the line opposite MMA boss man Conor McGregor later tonight (Sat., Nov. 12, 2016) at UFC 205 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.

In a match up between one of the more durable and well-rounded veterans in the sport today, Alvarez, and the man who has been known to tire if he doesn't land his patented left hand of death, McGregor, someone is going to leave NYC with their 155-pound tail between their legs. Will it be McGregor in his attempt to become the first fighter in promotional history to hold two belts simultaneously? Or will it be Alvarez in his quest to prove Santa Claus doesn't exist and that durable wrestling can still win titles?

No need to pan through that mess on your own. We've compiled keys to victory for both men competing in tonight's UFC 205 main event. Proceed at your own risk. We're predicting the outcome, too.

Eddie Alvarez

1. Control the pace ...

It's no secret that Alvarez is going to try to take McGregor down and grind him away like he did to Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. Alvarez did knockout Rafael dos Anjos to claim the title, but he's a wrestler at heart. When push comes to shove, the UFC lightweight champ will shoot for control. If he doesn't, he's not taking advantage of his biggest weapon in this bout.

However, where the fight takes place isn't the only thing Alvarez must dictate. Unlike his victories over Pettis and Melendez, this contest will be a five-round affair. That means Alvarez must not only implement the pace, but control it. If he blows his wad too early and tries to smother McGregor with everything he has, "Notorious" will be able to take advantage of that at the start of the next round (assuming there is one) and attack his body.

Not for nothing, but Alvarez looked somewhat tired in the third round of each of his fights with "Showtime" and Melendez. Also, he was only able to win those contests by way of split decision. So as much as people are putting into McGregor's lack of cardio, Alvarez must also watch his output by the round.

2. Keep his wild style in the backroom ...

McGregor is more technical on the feet than Alvarez. I think everybody knows that, including "The Underground King." That doesn't mean that Alvarez isn't capable on the feet because he's one of the better brawlers in the division today, it's just that "Notorious" is a true sniper from all angles. To limit the mistakes that will lead to a McGregor counter connecting on queue, Alvarez must leave his wild dog fighting style in the backroom before entering the Octagon at UFC 205.

In the past, Alvarez has been able to overload an opponent's senses by attacking with looping combinations, powerful hooks and labored uppercuts. Just look at how he finished RDA earlier this year at UFC Fight Night 90. Alvarez pinned the Brazilian against the cage, winged countless haymakers and connected to win the title. Those open-chested combinations often leave Alvarez exposed to a straight counter, which is something McGregor used to stiffen Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 this past December.

So even though Alvarez most certainly wants to take McGregor's head off, he may want to wait to unload fury until he's able to put the Irishman on his back. Outside of that ground leverage, the champ may want to pull back his go-for-broke efforts on the feet.

Conor McGregor

1. Find his range in the first exchange ...

A lot is going to hinge on McGregor's ability to land early in this fight. Alvarez is prone to tuck his chin and plod forward with powerful combinations and takedown attempts, so it's important that "Notorious" throws the champion for a loop as soon as he can. Landing his patented left hand to the chin of Alvarez could instantaneously change the pace of this fight.

But in order to do, especially as Alvarez trucks forward and looks to smother McGregor in close quarters, the Irishman must find his range as early as possible, preferably during the first exchange. From there, McGregor can gauge his distance, hit Alvarez around the edges of the pocket, stay away from a potential takedown and utilize his versatile body attacks to soften the more muscular lightweight up.

If McGregor is unable to find his rhythm early and forces the action from the outside in, it's going to be a very long night for him. Alvarez will look for every opportunity to close the distance, so McGregor must consistently move his feet, land quick shots and avoid any unnecessary damage.

2. Keep busy off his back ...

In McGregor's defense, he battered Chad Mendes' head with elbows off his back when "Money" took him down at will during their UFC 189 meeting. It was the first time UFC fans got a glimpse of McGregor on the ground. And while "Notorious" gave into Mendes' takedowns quicker than most fans would like, he did stay relatively busy off his back, which prevented the Team Alpha Male wrestler from passing or doing any more damage outside of a cut above McGregor's eye.

While Alvarez is going to be much stronger and bigger than Mendes when he meets McGregor at UFC 205 later tonight, McGregor must implement the same sort of offensive output off his back if the lightweight king winds up in top control. Looking back at his bouts opposite Pettis and Melendez, Alvarez didn't do much passing on the ground, which could allow McGregor to push off, land some strikes, find a home for his elbows and make "The Underground King" defend from full guard.

After training with jiu-jitsu prodigy Dillon Danis for the better portion of 2016, McGregor must show some signs of improvement on the ground if he ends up underneath Alvarez.

Prediction: McGregor via second-round technical knockout

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 205 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.