- With UFC 205 in the books, we reflect on the biggest stars, best hightlights and much more from Madison Square Garden.
A historic UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden lived up to its billing, and etched it's place in the record books alongside iconic moments in combat sports hosted in the venue. Featherweight champion Conor McGregor moved up to 155 pounds to fight lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez for his strap, in an attempt to become the first two-weight champion in UFC history.
And McGregor made it look easy, patiently waiting for Alvarez to push forward and then countering and landing his fabled left-hand punch. Three times McGregor knocked down Alvarez in the first round, and while Alvarez wasn't finished, he was merely surviving and escaping to the next round.
Finally McGregor dropped Alvarez for a fourth and final time in the second round, pouncing to finish the fight, once and for all.
“Eddie is a warrior but he shouldn’t be in there with me. I am a different level. Now, I celebrate as champion of two divisions,” McGregor said after the fight.
McGregor stood in the cage with his newly won lightweight title around his waist, calling for his second title to raise them both triumphantly. UFC president Dana White had to borrow welterweight champion Tyron Woodley's title belt for McGregor to celebrate with two belts.
Earlier in the night, Woodley escaped his first title defense against Stephen Thompson with a majority draw decision to retain his belt, a situation exacerbated by confusion in the cage. The decision was originally read as a split decision win for Woodley, and during a post-fight interview Woodley was interrupted so the score could be corrected to a majority draw, which didn't affect the outcome.
“I don’t know what to think. At the end of the day, it’s a big difference to get the draw than to get the win, but I’ll take either over a loss any day," Woodley said. "I just hate leaving the Octagon in that type of situation."
Woodley had a chance at finishing the fight several times. In the first round Woodley busted open a gash on Thompson's nose. Then in the fourth round Woodley seemingly knocked Thompson out, but the challenger survived before finding himself deep in a guillotine choke.
"I had some good moments," Woodley said. "I could’ve pressed him more but I feel like the only significant damage done in that fight was by me. I should’ve created a little more distance when I rocked him so I could land more shots and end it. I went for the guillotine and feel like that was a bad decision. Even then, I thought that was close to a 10–8 round. I don’t agree with the draw. I thought I won but he’s a tough kid and it was a great fight.”
Thompson fought valiantly, and some pundits had him winning the fight on the score card despite bear finishes from Woodley.
“I thought that I did enough to finish out that last round and get the draw," Thompson said. "Of course, I’d rather have the win but it is what it is. We both went out there and fought our hearts out. I hope we can do it again. Nothing else would interest me. I want the rematch. I don’t want anything but that rematch.”
White said booking an immediate rematch made sense.
In the third title fight of the night, strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz to retain her belt. Jedrzejczyk's four successful title defenses rate as the second-longest active streak in the UFC behind only flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who is on the cusp of re-writing the record book for consecutive title defenses. Jedrzejczyk's four title defenses puts her two behind Ronda Rousey's six title defenses in the UFC.
While Jedrzejczyk was dominant early, a punch that connected in the fourth round breathed life into Kowalkiewicz's camp and gave her hope of a finish and a stunning upset. Ultimately, the champion was able to weather the storm.
Women's MMA legend Miesha Tate surprisingly announced her retirement after losing to Raquel Pennington, a former pupil from the Ultimate Fighter, in a convincing decision. Tate defeated Holly Holm in March to win the women's bantamweight title for the first time before losing the strap to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200.
1. Conor McGregor: Hard not to name McGregor a star. He knocked down lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez three times in the first round before finally knocking him out in the second round, becoming the first fighter in UFC history hold two belts simultaneously.
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Michael Johnson didn't stand a chance against Nurmagomedov's take down and ground and pound. He dominated Johnson for three round before getting the submission.
3. Vicente Luque: Stepped in on short notice, having 2.5 weeks to prepare and cut 30 pounds. Landed a vicious right hook to knockout his opponent 1:19 into the first round to get a win.
1. Let Conor McGregor do whatever he wants: Dana White said UFC 205 broke pay-per-view records, while also establishing a UFC and Madison Square Garden gate record, and it was all in an effort to see McGregor pursue history. But now he is the champion in two weight classes and what is the UFC to do, lift a belt off him? No.
Let McGregor do whatever he pleases. Defend them both, fight for a third, the bottom line is fans tune in to see what happens. This is a win-win, not only is the UFC raking in the money, McGregor is drawing eyes to the company as a whole.
2. Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world: Khabib Nurmagomedov is an undefeated lightweight fighter, who just dominated a top-contender at UFC 205. Nurmagomedov was reportedly yelling at UFC president Dana White in between rounds asking for his title fight.
And given the dominant and smothering fashion in which Nurmagomedov defeated Michael Johnson, it's hard to envision someone beating him. He is able to get a fighter to the ground and just maul them, he could be the kryptonite to Conor McGregor.
3. Raquel Pennington is a contender: Pennington arguably should of beat Holly Holm in a split decision loss earlier in her career, and she just knocked off the former women's bantamweight champion in Miesha Tate. Clearly Pennington is a top contender and in the title mix, but she is in line behind Julianna Peña for now.
4. Tyron Woodley is not an underdog: Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley came into the fight as an underdog to challenger Stephen Thompson, and the two battled to an absolute war and a majority draw. Woodley nearly finished the fight in in a barrage of a round, but Thompson somehow not only weathered nearly being knocked unconscious but almost being choked out all in a five-minute round.
To prepare, Woodley brought in specific training partners to "immerse" himself in karate. This is the same tactic Conor McGregor used to prepare for Nate Diaz ahead of UFC 202, and a sign of how committed Woodley is to reigning over that division for a while.
Fight of the Night: Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson.
Performances of the Night: Conor McGregor, Yoel Romero.
By The Numbers
Gate: $17.7 million (New UFC and Madison Square Garden record)
Vicente Luque knocks out Belal Muhammad.
Khabib Nurmagomedov dominates Michael Johnson, gets a third-round submission win.
Stephen Thompson is tough and somehow survived a barrage from Tyron Woodley.
Conor McGregor def. Eddie Alvarez by TKO (punches) at 3:04 of Round Two
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson in majority draw (47–47 x2, 48–47)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (49–46 x3)
Yoel Romero def. Chris Weidman by TKO (flying knee and punches) at 0:24 of Round Three
Raquel Pennington def. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision (29–28, 30–27 x2)
Frankie Edgar def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision (30–27 x2, 29–28)
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Michael Johnson by submission (kimura) at 2:31 of Round Three
Vicente Luque def. Belal Muhammad by KO (punches) at 1:19 of Round One
Tim Boetsch def. Rafael Natal by KO (punches) at 3:22 of Round One
Jim Miller def. Thiago Alves by unanimous decision (30–27, 29–28, 30–27)
Liz Carmouche Carmouche def. Katlyn Chookagian by split decision (28–29, 29–8 x2)
The UFC follows up a historic card with a double-header next Saturday from two different continents. The first card comes from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the second comes from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The next pay-per-view event is December 10th, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. In the main event, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier puts his belt on the line against Anthony Johnson.