WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – FULL CARD BREAKDOWN
The Ultimate Fighting Championship heads to New York City for the first time in promotional history with this Saturday night’s UFC 205 blockbuster event. The card from top-to-bottom is absolutely stacked with some of the biggest names and best MMA fighters in the world, including three title fights and six fights on the Pay-Per-View portion of the card alone. The UFC has really put together a terrific card for this historic event, one that many MMA fans are calling the best card in the history of the sport, and one that should be a lot of fun to watch.
Here’s a breakdown of the action to come, with the top five things to watch for at UFC 205.
Editor’s Note: Both the Cerrone/Gastelum and the Evans/Kennedy fights have been cancelled.
1) McGregor Looks To Claim Lightweight Title
UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor ($8,600) looks to make UFC history as the promotion’s first dual-weight champion when he takes on UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez ($7,600) in an amazing main event. McGregor, MMA’s biggest superstar, is 20-3 in his career with an 8-1 mark in the UFC alone. He bounced back from his stunning upset loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 196 with a majority decision win over Diaz in his last outing at UFC 202. That fight was only a few months ago, and McGregor took big damage in it, so his decision to come back to the Octagon so soon might end up hurting him here. With massive knockout power in his hands, McGregor is one of the most powerful punchers in the sport and although he is moving to 155lbs for this fight, his knockout power should carry well over to this division.
His opponent, Alvarez, is one of the sport’s well-traveled veterans. With a 28-4 record including a 3-1 record in the UFC, Alvarez has seen it all in his career and fought the best of the best, with a knockout win over Rafael dos Anjos to win the title in his last outing the crowning achievement of his career. Alvarez is a grinder with great wrestling and big knockout power, and is one of the toughest guys to finish in the lightweight division.
Analysis: Having said that, it’s hard to go against McGregor here. He’s just such a great fighter and if this fight stays on the feet like it should, he has a very good chance at catching Alvarez’ chin, as the champ tends to be quite hittable, even in his wins. McGregor isn’t cheap at $8,600, but he has a good chance to collect a finish in this fight, and those bonus points could help you big time if you have him on your team.
2) Woodley Makes First Welterweight Title Defense
Back in the summer at UFC 201, Tyron Woodley ($7,400) knocked out Robbie Lawler to claim the UFC welterweight championship, and now in his first title defense he takes on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson ($8,800) for the belt. Woodley is 6-2 in the UFC and is currently riding a three-fight win streak. He’s combined elite wrestling and big knockout power to become the champion, and now he’ll need those tools in order to take out Thompson, the division’s top contender.
Thompson is 8-1 in the UFC and is riding a seven-fight win streak at the moment, with back-to-back wins over Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald earning him the title shot. With improved takedown defense to go along with his elite striking attack, Thompson makes for a difficult matchup against anyone in the division.
Analysis: This is a really good fight, but Thompson, despite being the challenger, is the rightful favorite in this fight. This is a five-round fight and Thompson has proven his cardio is elite. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors “Wonderboy,” and as Woodley gasses in the later rounds, there’s a good chance Thompson finishes the fight with another impressive KO. I like Thompson at $8,800, because he has a great chance to finish the fight.
3) Jedrzejczyk, Kowalkiewicz Battle For Women’s Strawweight Crown
UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk ($9,300) looks to make the fourth defense of her belt when she takes on fellow Pole Karolina Kowalkiewicz ($6,900). Jedrzejczyk is undefeated in her MMA career at 12-0, including an impressive 6-0 record in the UFC, as she’s emerged as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters. With elite takedown defense to go along with one of MMA’s top striking attacks, it’s hard to see Jedrzejczyk losing her belt anytime soon.
Having said that, Kowalkiewicz is herself 10-0 in MMA including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. She’s very durable and well-rounded and clearly one of the top female fighters in the strawweight division, but this appears to be a difficult matchup against Jedrzejczyk, who actually holds a stoppage win over Kowalkiewicz from when both were amateurs.
Analysis: It’s possible Kowalkiewicz could make it the full five rounds with Jedrzejczyk, but it’s hard to see her winning this fight. I like Jedrzejczyk at $9,300 if you can make room on your squad for her as she should rack up a huge amount of significant strikes in this fight, and she also has an outside chance of a finish.
4) Weidman Takes On Romero In Pivotal Middleweight Bout
Former UFC middleweight champion and New York native Chris Weidman ($8,500) returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing his belt to Luke Rockhold when he takes on Yoel Romero ($7,700) in a fight that could determine the next No. 1 contender at 185lbs. Weidman is 13-1 in his career including a 9-1 mark in the UFC. He is one of the most well-rounded middleweights in the game with fantastic wrestling, powerful striking, and an underrated submission game. However, he has dealt with numerous injuries in the last few years and his poor performance against Rockhold is concerning. Fighting in front of his native NY fans, Weidman will have all the motivation in the world to put on the best performance of his career, but that won’t be easy against Romero.
The Cuban may be 39 years old but he’s in incredible shape and so far during his UFC tenure he’s looked like an absolute destroyer. Romero is 12-1 in his career with a 7-0 record in the UFC. Romero’s wrestling is elite, he has massive knockout power, and he has an incredible ability to win fights late. His recent PED suspension is something to keep in mind, but overall it’s just very hard to go against Romero right now.
Pick to win: This is truly an amazing matchup between two elite middleweights, but Romero at $7,700 looks like a nice contrarian pick to me.
5) Undefeated Nurmagomedov Fights In Important Matchup
Two of the UFC’s top lightweights fight each other as Khabib Nurmagomedov ($9,000) takes on Michael Johnson ($7,200) in a preliminary card bout. Honestly, this fight could headline a UFC Fight Night card, and the fact it’s on the prelims for this event proves just how stacked this card is. Nurmagomedov is undefeated at 23-0 in his career including a 7-0 record in the UFC alone. He has the best wrestling in the lightweight division and no one has been able to stop his takedowns. His striking, though, is his weakness, which is why this fight against Johnson, a striker, is so intriguing.
Johnson may have a mediocre 17-10 career record and his 9-5 UFC record isn’t great, but he’s improved significant in recent years and in his last fight had arguably the best performance of his career with a brutal knockout over Dustin Poirier. But as good as Johnson’s striking is, his takedown defense has historically been quite poor, which could lead to his downfall against Nurmagomedov.
Analysis: The outcome of the fight will come down to whether or not the fight takes place on the feet or on the mat, but it seems more likely Nurmagomedov will be able to get takedowns and grind out a decision. With a finish unlikely, I’m passing on Nurmagomedov at $9,000.
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