The UFC makes its annual return to the fight Mecca, Madison Square Garden, New York City for UFC 295. Traditionally, there are multiple title fights on the card, plenty of talking points and memorable moments.
We look at the top 5 UFC MSG moments in the company’s short history with the world’s most famous arena.
Top 5 UFC Madison Square Garden Moments
5. The BMF Title is Born
The main event of the 2019 edition of the UFC’s MSG trip saw the famous ‘BMF’ belt born. The belt is without a doubt a gimmick, however, because of the two men involved, the fight had the eyes of the world on it.
The fight saw Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz stand across from each other in a fight that had fans salivating at the prospect of two of the OGs of the fight game going at it. Masvidal was coming off the back of his ‘comeback season’ having returned after two years away to knock out Darren Till and then score the fastest knockout in UFC history over Ben Askren. Diaz returned to action following a loss to Conor McGregor to defeat Anthony Pettis in vintage Diaz fashion.
The added gimmick of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson being the man to award the winner of the belt his strap made this fight a little more hyped. Despite the fight not really living up to expectations (a doctor stoppage finish), it was ‘fun’.
4. Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje put on a Fight for the Ages
Both men were coming off title fight losses and despite Gaethje getting the win, Chandler’s stock rose in this one.
A combined 237 strikes were landed of 451 thrown with neither man taking a step back the entire fight. It was all action for the full 15 minutes and cemented both men as all-action fighters and a true MSG classic. The fight is widely regarded as the best fight of 2021.
3. Three New champions are crowned at UFC 217
UFC 217 was the promotion’s second visit to MSG and, like their first visit, featured three title fights. In the first title fight, we saw a huge upset as Rose Namajunas handed Joanna Jedrzejczyk her first professional loss after being a +500 underdog. The champion was 14-0 heading into the bout and had looked flawless thusfar and Namajunas was enjoying just a one-fight winning run.
Namajunas forced Jedrzejczyk to submit to strikes having dropped her with a hard hook and what made it so impressive is that this occurred in just 3:03.
Next came the bitter grudge match between former teammates, Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. The two men faced off as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter series 25, only increasing the hatred between the two bantamweights.
Garbrandt definitely got the upper hand in the first round, dropping TJ and seemingly carrying that momentum into the second round. Then, however, his future tendencies reared their ugly heads. He got too eager, too invested in his power, caught in a gun fight and didn’t have the chin to last. Dillashaw caught him, dropped him and he was never able to recover, capturing the belt from No Love in the first of two fights between the two.
The main event saw the return of the former long-time welterweight champion and a man who is constantly in the GOAT chat, George St Pierre, as he challenged Michael Bisping for the middleweight strap.
St Pierre had been away from competition for almost four years and returned in style. He was able to snap back into his old form, however, taking Bisping down in the first round, but sustaining a nasty cut. In the second round, however, the Canadian landed heavily on The Count, scoring a knockdown and quickly jumping on his back for a rear-naked choke submission. The Brit, in classic fashion, didn’t tap, and Rush put him to sleep. A legendary night all round.
2. Alex Pereira knocks out Israel Adesanya in the fifth round to capture the middleweight belt
The rivalry between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya came to a head at UFC 281 in the 2022 main event, this time, the middleweight title was on the line. Prior to the fight, there were seven straight finishes and 10 total finishes on the card and the main event would see the eighth straight finish.
For context, Pereira was 2-0 over Adesanya in kickboxing and was just 3-0 in the UFC when his title opportunity came. The Last Stylebender was undefeated at middleweight in MMA, winning his last three straight in the UFC.
There’s a strong argument that the champion was winning the fight until the final round. Pereira proved that he has scary power and that it only takes one singular shot to shut the lights out of his opponent.
The shocking victory of Alex Pereira had many fans speechless, however, it was well deserved. He clipped Adesanya and showed his vicious finishing instinct. Poatan topped off potentially the greatest MSG card in UFC history.
1. Conor McGregor dominates Eddie Alvarez to become the first simultaneous two-weight world champion
Headlining the first ever UFC event at MSG saw featherweight champion, Conor McGregor clash with lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez for Alvarez’s 155lbs title. The UFC 205 fight week was something to behold with massive promotion throughout and a historic main event.
McGregor was fresh off his closely fought Nate Diaz rematch and Alvarez was looking to make the first defence of his lightweight strap.
What played out was one of the most flawless performances in UFC history. McGregor dominated from start to finish. Not only did he mock Alvarez, holding his hands behind his back, but he answered questions regarding his wrestling defence and whether his power would carry to 155lbs.
Scoring two big knockdowns in the first round and truly dominating throughout, Alvarez appeared to let the moment get to him. The second round saw McGregor land a beautiful counter, followed by a slick combination that knocked Alvarez down and saw referee, John McCarthy step in and call a stop to the beating.
McGregor became the first-ever simultaneous two-weight world champion and made history, on what was a historic night for the UFC.