The UFC 205 card will take place at the fabled Madison Square Garden Arena, and will no doubt break records, set new historic markers for the sport and provide oodles of entertainment for action-hungry fans. It will surely be a night of fights we won’t soon forget.
As is my tradition, I’ve put together a list of underdogs that I feel have the potential to not only upset the favorites, I believe they’ll likely steal the show. Let’s get started.
Editor’s Note: Both the Cerrone/Gastelum and the Evans/Kennedy fights have been cancelled.
Miesha Tate $9100 / Raquel Pennington $7100
Miesha is a well-rounded, durable athlete widely known for her toughness and grit. She’s good on her feet and good on the ground. She trained at a variety of gyms, picking up some great tools from each, for an all-around impressive skillset. Currently, she’s under the excellent tutelage of Robert Follis at the newly invigorated Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, and has looked quite impressive up until her last fight.
Tate started with a troublesome weight cut and things went decidedly downhill from there. By the end of fight night, Amanda Nunes was wearing the belt she’d fought so hard to get. In that fight, she seemed to wilt under pressure, almost like she’d given up, and that’s something we’ve not seen her do before. It’s left a question that begs an answer: Is her heart still in this?
Raquel Pennington has looked better and better every time she sets foot in the Octagon, and is surging on a great win streak currently. She’s a hard-nosed, gritty fighter with all the tools to make this a very long night for Miesha. She’s got excellent stand-up and ground game, and constantly improves. Her fight IQ is where she shines, and she is able to make last minute adjustments throughout the fight to make the most of any openings she finds.
I’m not willing to predict whether Tate’s heart is really in this anymore, so I’m actually making what I consider a safe choice by picking the underdog, Raquel Pennington.
Raquel Pennington via DECISION
Chris Weidman $8500 / Yoel Romero $7700
Chris Weidman’s wrestling pedigree is top notch, but his technical striking game is even better. He has an excellent jab and uses it effectively, and his kicking game…well, we’ve all seen the damage one of his kicks can do. Weidman is a big guy, but when he fought Rockhold, we saw that he could be muscled around.
Yoel Romero is also a highly decorated wrestler, the highest, in fact. He holds an Olympic silver medal in freestyle wrestling, and puts his outstanding skillset on display in every fight. He’s stocky and powerful, and also packs a lot of heat in his punches and he can land when planted or when firing from a mounted position.
This is one of those super close fights, but I’m going to go with my gut and take Romero here. I just feel like there’s a slightly better upside with him.
Yoel Romero via DECISION
Stephen Thompson $8800 / Tyron Woodley $7400
Stephen Thompson is on a tear right now, defeating everyone they put in his path. He has a significant size advantage and a solid karate base that he’s incorporated well into his overall skillset. He’s got crisp striking and uses angles well, setting up great counterpunching with his kicks. His weakness, his ground game, plays right into one of Woodley’s strengths, his wrestling.
Woodley is built like a fireplug, and is packing a heat seeking missile in that right hand. He does his best work from the clinch, a place Stephen Thompson would do well to stay away from. If he can get you up against the fence, he peppers away with knees and heavy punches, and will go for leg trips, singles and blast doubles if he senses the fight needs a level change. His weak link is his cardio, but we may find that he’s shored that up at this point.
When it’s all said and done, I think Woodley’s power will be what makes the most impact on this contest.
Tyron Woodley via (T)KO
Conor McGregor $8600 / Eddie Alvarez $7600
Conor McGregor has proven over the last couple years that he’s the real deal. He’s become a very cerebral fighter putting significant amounts of money towards his training camps, and his coach, John Kavanagh, has made sure that no stone is left unturned. If there is any advantage to be gained, he is likely aware of it and is either working on implementing it or already has.
Conor’s strength lies in his striking, both offensive and in the counters. His movement and timing is impeccable and he effectively uses his kicks and punches together like a well-oiled machine. He’s quick to get his opposition’s timing down, and often punishes them for it. He uses angles near perfectly, and his left hand is capable of knockout power when landed from virtually any angle or distance.
His weakness is in his ground game and his cardio—two shining qualities that Eddie has in spades. Eddie also carries significant power, and is under the excellent tutelage of Mark Henry. He is a pressure fighter, and his ground game is excellent. He does well in the clinch, and also has excellent counter punching.
I can’t help but think Eddie gets Conor down and finishes him from the mount.
Eddie Alvarez via (T)KO
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