Is UFC 205 the biggest event in UFC’s history? With the astonishing lineup, chances are that we’ll have to wait for another milestone moment before we see anything anywhere near this magnitude. A pay-per-view main card with three title fights and three highly contested bouts scheduled over a four hours is a fitting way to give Madison Square Garden its MMA debut.
Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez – Lightweight Championship
To start off the night, we have the lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez going up against the Irish sensation and featherweight champion ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor for the Lightweight belt. In what should be an exhilarating contest, McGregor will finally drop down to the 155lbs weight class after weeks and months of speculation. Experts and fans alike anticipated a re-match between McGregor and Jose Aldo for the featherweight belt which would have been the natural and obvious match-up for the Irishmen after his 13 second win at UC 194 via TKO and hasn’t fought at the weight class ever since. Nevertheless, the UFC opted for a McGregor Alvarez title fight potentially being crowned the featherweight and Lightweight champion.
McGregor’s last fight and win was against the giant Nate Diaz at UFC 202 where he won via unanimous decision stretching all 5 rounds. Particularly surprising given that he doesn’t usually last five rounds. We saw signs of fatigue at UFC 202 but he came back strong in round 4 and 5 to claim victory. With the McGregor vs. Diaz saga on hold, ‘the notorious’ Irishmen now has his eyes firmly set on the lightweight belt.
Alvarez should prove a worthy opponent for McGregor with the American having faced more top tier lightweights than anyone in the division. His start in the UFC was tough as he lost to Donald Cerrone but has rapidly improved and recovered with his most recent victory coming against Raphael Dos Anjos via TKO inside four minutes to claim the lightweight belt. A crafty and astute wrestler, Alvarez will look to put Conor McGregor to the ground whilst his opponent will want to keep it standing. McGregor held up well against Nate Diaz in the clinch and countered his attempts to drop him so it will be interesting to see Eddie Alvarez’s game plan.
Meanwhile, Conor McGregor remains the undisputed fan favourite but Eddie Alvarez is no pushover. At 32, he has a wealth of experience and is an adept wrestler who will look to play to his strengths whereas McGregor will try and keep the fight short and around the fence. I’d give this match-up to Conor McGregor, the Irishmen is a very technically sound and capable fighter and has a burning desire and passion to conquer the UFC. His improved countering technique will be a test to Alvarez’s strengths.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – Strawweight Championship
Joanna Jedrzejczyk will attempt a fourth title defence against her native Polish compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the first of three title fights on the night. Joanna has defended her title in dominant fashion in her six UFC title defences. With the exception of her first encounter with Claudia Gadelha, her other bouts have been with consummate ease. Jedrzejczyk ran over Valerie Letourneau and Jessica Penne but laid down an intense beating on Carla Esparza to win the belt in March 2015. Joanna has always fought with a fearless attitude and immense heart & soul, destined for greatness reaching the peak of the mountain that is Madison Square Garden well before the possibility of an MMA event in New York City.
“I want people to talk about me in 10, 20 years and say that I was one of the best MMA female fighters and one of the best UFC champions back in the day,” Jedrzejczyk said. “This is what I want. This is my dream. I want to make this dream come alive.” – (George Willis, NY Post, 2016)
Jedrzejczyk is a technically sound fighter relying on her striking to win her fights, which is proved by her 4 of her 12 wins in the UFC have been via technical knockout and only 1 through submission. The Polish champion owns a mean counter punch making her a very complete, all round striker. With one of the cleanest and strongest strikes in the sport, Joanna is considered one of the UFC’s best fighters. She utlises energy very efficiently and makes no unnecessary movements giving her opponents a hard time to pin her up against the fence.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz has been an underdog since her inception into the UFC but has emerged a capable contender after victories in her last three UFC appearances beating Randa Markos, Heather Jo Clark and Rose Namajunas to finally have an opportunity to take on her Polish counterpart for the belt. Karolina’s rise to fame has been very recent, making her a household name for UFC fans since she signed for the UFC in October 2015. Her strategy revolves around darting in and out of her opponent landing a flurry of moves; rinse and repeat. Kowalkiewicz has regularly thrown 25 to 30 punches in a minute giving her immense pace and agility making her a challenging prospect.
Overall Joanna is the more complete and technically sound fighter and battles with heart. Alternately, Karolina relies on speed, precision and wearing down her opponent. You couldn’t imagine a more daunting and precarious matchup for Kowalkiewicz with both fighters looking to stay on their feet and exchange blows. This essentially comes down to a speed versus power fight. With the odds favouring Jedrzejczyk given her vast experience and technical ability, Karolina Kowalkiewicz hasn’t won her last few fights through sheer luck and has proved a top number one contender and could spring a surprise come Saturday night. I’ll go for a split decision victory to Kowalkiewicz win the belt and break Jedrzejczyk’s run.
Tyron Woodley vs. Steven Thompson – Welterweight Championship
Next we have Tyron Woodley and Steven ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson going head to head for the Welterweight championship. The current champion comes into this fight off the back of a brutal win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 to win the belt. Woodley, who entered that bout as an underdog, startled Lawler in the first round with a devastating overhand right, becoming only the second man to KO Lawler in the Octagon (Nick Diaz pulled off a similar feat at UFC 47). Lawler, who made no excuses on his loss to Tyron Woodley admitting that he got beat.
‘Wonderboy’ a UFC veteran himself, at the age of 33, has been around the UFC for 6 years managing 13 victories and a solitary loss to Matt Brown in 2012. ‘Wonderboy’ is currently on a 7 match win streak stretching back to the UFC 160 in 2013 with his last win coming up against Rory MacDonald at UFC Fight Night 89 in June 2016 where he accomplished a complete and put together a tactical fight against MacDonald.
You couldn’t call this fight with both fighters looking extremely confident and eager to win. They are both entering the twilight stages of their careers and this fight represents another chance for either of them to claim another monumental victory especially given the circumstances; the first welterweight champion to be crowned at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I’ll give this to Tyron Woodley for the way he beat Robbie Lawler but this could go either way.
Delivery & Execution
With Conor McGregor added to the event it should promise to live up to expectation unlike UFC 200 which fell short and underwhelmed after all the controversy shrouding the event days prior to fight night. Not to mention the lineup features a trio of former champions (Meisha Tate, Rashad Evans and Frankie Edgar) and top contenders (Donald Cerrone, Kelvin Gastelum, Tim Kennedy, Jeremy Stephens). UFC 205 could go down in history as the best UFC event they’ve hosted. It certainly holds up against any of their previous lines up and has the potential of not only breaking viewing records but should be the most lucrative UFC event too. Keeping in mind Madison Square Garden’s 20,000-plus seat capacity, and it’s very likely that their longstanding gate record — approximately $12 million for UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields at the Rogers Centre in Toronto — will be overtaken. UFC 205 was being promoted and hyped as the promotion’s most stacked lineup even before the McGregor vs. Alvarez.
Can UFC 205 deliver where other (at least recent) pay-per-views haven’t? We’ll only find out on November 12th but it’s well within reach.