The historic UFC 205 from New York City is my favourite MMA event to date. The first-ever UFC event to be held in the state of New York, the event was historic for more than one reason. Headlined by the biggest star the sport has ever seen, it featured 3 title fights and a host of huge names. We take a step back in time to review the card and I let you in on why it is my favourite ever MMA event.
UFC 205 – Build Up
The build-up to this event was like no other. With a huge press conference which included most of the main fighters on the card, the hype was building massively. Not only this but non-other than headliner Conor McGregor was on top form. This is where he dropped the famous ‘who da f**k is that guy’ quote, went back and forth with his opponent, Eddie Alvarez and completely stole the show.
The pre-fight press conference was also run by McGregor. Turning up late in typical fashion, he stole Alvarez’s belt, a homage to what he would do when they fought.
The open-work outs were held at Madison Square Garden, on the basketball court itself. Again, guess who stole the show? The main man himself. Taking part in a typical striking heavy open workout, McGregor effortlessly topped it off with swishing a basket… first time of course.
The record-breaking weigh-ins finished off a brilliant pre-fight night build up. 15,480 fans packed in to see the fighters one last time before fight night and the stage was set.
New York’s own, Katlyn Chookagian was the first person to walk out at UFC 205. She was matched against former 135lbs title contender, Liz Carmouche. In a back and forth fight, the New York native dropped a split decision, an early sign of things to come for New York based fighters.
The next fight saw former welterweight title contender, Thiago Alves face veteran Jim Miller. In this catchweight fight, where Alves missed weight, Miller was able to pick up the unanimous decision victory. A steady start but not a sign of things to come.
The next two fights lasted a little under a round combined. The hard-hitting Vicente Luque knocked out rising star Belal Muhammad in a little over a minute. This was succeeded by the vicious knockout of New Yorker Rafael Natal at the hands of Tim Boetsch.
Then came one of the defining matches in the career of current lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. He faced Michael Johnson, who was coming off a main event first round knockout just two months prior to the event. Despite seemingly rocking Nurmagomedov early, Johnson was truly outclassed. In classic Nurmagomedov style, he ‘smashed’ Johnson with heavy ground and pound, calling for him to give up. Telling him ‘I need to fight for the title, you know this, I deserve it’. In his corner between rounds, The Eagle was telling UFC president Dana White to stop sending him ‘fake contracts’, reffering to contracts that didn’t include a title shot. Nurmagomedov finished the veteran Johnson with a kimura in the third round after true domination.
The last fight before the main card was between Frankie Edgar and the hard-hitting, Jeremy Stephens. Coming into the fight, Edgar was 5-1 in his last six fights. Stephens was 2-3 in his previous five. In a somewhat forgettable match, the former lightweight champion, Edgar was able to outpoint Stephens with relative ease. The wrestling of Edgar negated Stephen’s power, making it a long night for Lil Heathen.
And now to the main card. The opening fight saw the women in action again. Former bantamweight champion Meisha Tate was coming off her title losing fight to Amanda Nunes and was looking to bounce back. Her opponent in New York was Raquel Pennington, who had been on Tate’s team when she appeared on TUF. The fight will always be remembered as Meisha Tate’s retirement fight. Having dropped the decision to Pennington, she left her gloves in the octagon, signalling that this was her last dance. A stellar career, a women’s MMA pioneer, it’s a shame Tate had to go out with a loss.
Now the next fight is where the chaos ensued. The ‘Soldier of God’, Yoel Romero performed at his scary best. He was losing the fight to former middleweight champion, Chris Weidman when he landed a devastating flying knee. Instantly splitting Weidman’s head open, Romero got the victory. He launched himself over the cage and marched around and then began goading then middleweight champion, Michael Bisping into a fight. In typical Bisping style, he flipped him the ‘bird’ in response. Romero then dropped the famous ‘see you soon, boi’ line in his post-fight speech. A great fight for as long as it lasted, we got to see what a motivated Yoel Romero can do.
All Polish Clash
The all-Polish women’s strawweight clash didn’t disappoint. Leading into the fight, the two women had some needle. They didn’t get on, despite having respect for each other. Joanna Jedrzejczyk entered the bout 12-0 and her opponent, Karolina Kowalkiewicz was also undefeated at 10-0. In a back and forth fight, Jedrzejczyk did enough to get the nod on the night. A strong showing from the challenger, Kowalkiewicz, however, it wasn’t enough on the night. Another back and forth fight saw the champion retain and rightfully so. All in all, this clash was a great start to our hattrick of title fights.
The Fight of the Night
UFC 205’s co-main event saw Tyron Woodley make the first defence of his welterweight strap against Steven Thompson. Going into the fight both men respected each other and there was no trash talk. It was just two fighters wanting to prove they were the best.
This fight had it all. Ultimately scored a majority draw (47-47, 47-47, 48-47), the 25 minute MMA showcase was exhilarating. There were times when you believed that either man was a misstep away from being finished. Woodley came closest to finishing the fight, rocking Thompson on multiple occasions and sinching up a very tight guillotine. It still has me questioning how Thompson got out of it to this day. A great fight that had fans on the edge of their seats throughout.
The History Maker
‘Can Conor handle the wrestling of Alvarez?’, ‘Will McGregor’s gas tank will fail him?’, ‘Did you see what Alvarez did to Dos Anjos?’. All these questions were set to be answered. ‘I get money’ hits, what else? McGregor walks out, tri-coloured Irish flag adorning him, this is his moment and he is relishing in it.
The Fight Itself
Bang! A cracking low leg kick causes McGregor to slip, a bad start for the Irishman. Ah nevermind, here comes the flow state. One minute into the first round McGregor knocks Alvarez down – hard. Showing good takedown defence throughout the first round, good scrambles and an impeccable striking display, this was vintage McGregor. A further knockdown in the round cemented it for McGregor. 10-8 to the Irishman.
Where does Alvarez go from here? Absolutely no offence in the first round, other than the successful low leg kicks in the first thirty seconds and a single left hook to the body. Start wrestling? Too late, this was McGregor’s night. To show that he wasn’t scared of Alvarez’s offence what did the brash Irishman do? Hands behind his back of course.
This was the beginning of the end for Alvarez, McGregor finished him inside two rounds. A four-piece combo ended things for the American. The history-making moment. The UFC’s first-ever double champ, McGregor cemented himself as a legend of the sport. This was the perfect night to top off the best MMA card in history.
Embed from Getty Images