On Saturday, Nov. 12, the UFC made its long-awaited debut in New York as it hosted UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor from Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The event was headlined by three title fights. In the top-billing, lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez looked to make the first defense of his belt against featherweight kingpin Conor McGregor. Alvarez, a former Bellator MMA titleholder, took the belt away from Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos in July with a first-round TKO finish. McGregor, meanwhile, has never defended the 145-pound title. The Irishman split a pair of welterweight bouts with Nate Diaz earlier this year and looked to hold two belts simultaneously.
In the night’s co-main event, another recently crowned champion, Tyron Woodley, put his title on the line for the first time against striking stalwart Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
Finally, the women’s strawweight belt was also up for grabs as champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk clashed with fellow Polish striking sensation, Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
The remainder of the card was littered with former champions from multiple divisions, including Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar and Miesha Tate.
The 11-fight event kicked off Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with two fights streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Four additional preliminary card bouts followed at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, with the five-fight main card airing live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET.
Ireland’s Conor McGregor became the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, as he knocked out Eddie Alvarez in the second round. McGregor’s powerful left hand did damage immediately. He dropped Alvarez three times inside of the first round. Alvarez showed his durability just to survive the round. In round two, Alvarez pressed forward and it proved to be his downfall. McGregor landed four consecutive punches that sent Alvarez crashing to the ground and forced referee John McCarthy to intervene.
After five rounds, the welterweight title stayed with champion Tyron Woodley, as he and challenger Stephen Thompson fought to a majority draw. Both fighters were tentative early, but Woodley caught a kick and took Thompson to the mat. Once on top, Woodley battered the challenger and opened up a big cut on the bridge of his nose. The fight remained standing in rounds two and three, allowing Thompson to score at range with a variety of kicks. In round four, Woodley delivered a right hand that dropped Thompson. He flurried hard for the finish, but Thompson somehow survived. Woodley locked on a guillotine choke, but Thompson would not submit. Thompson recovered in round five to even up the fight on the scorecards. Two of the three judges at cageside scored the fight 47-47, allowing Woodley to keep his belt.
The strawweight title remained around the waist of Joanna Jędrzejczyk, as she bested countrywoman Karolina Kowalkiewicz after five, hard-fought rounds. Jędrzejczyk’s game plan was apparent early, as she peppered the lead leg of Kowalkiewicz with kicks. Despite the assault, Kowalkiewicz continued to march forward and looked to clinch. The volume of Jędrzejczyk was a big factor, as she landed three strikes for every one that the challenger did. The fight nearly turned in the fourth round as Kowalkiewicz landed a heavy right hand that rocked Jędrzejczyk. She flurried for the finish, but Jędrzejczyk recovered. The pair traded elbows and spinning backfists in the final round, but Kowalkiewicz could not mount enough offense to dethrone the champion.
Yoel Romero stated his case for a middleweight title shot, destroying former titleholder Chris Weidman with a third-round flying knee. Weidman came out firing kicks and keeping Romero at range. Weidman was able to take the former Olympic silver medalist down with a single leg, but was unable to hold him down. Romero was able to take Weidman down in round two, to even up the fight. The fight was in the balance in round three, but it was decided quickly and violently. Weidman shot for a takedown and Romero unleashed a perfectly timed flying knee that knocked Weidman out cold.
Bantamweight Raquel Pennington put on a dominant performance against former champion Miesha Tate. Pennington came out firing her jab, battering the face of Tate. Tate responded with takedown attempts, but Pennington was able to outwork her from the clinch. It was more of the same in the second and third rounds, as Pennington scored on the feet and Tate was desperate to the get the fight to the ground. A deep guillotine attempt from Pennington forced Tate to climb the cage with her feet to avoid being submitted. Tate’s pace slowed as the fight progressed and Pennington cruised to the decision win.
Former lightweight Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens closed out the preliminary card with a hard-fought battle. Edgar used his speed and footwork to stay outside and frustrate Stephens. Edgar mixed in takedowns to keep Stephens from loading up on his punches. In round two, Stephens delivered a head kick the dropped Edgar. He flurried to finish, but Edgar was able to survive. Edgar earned another takedown and looked for a guillotine choke, but Stephens escaped. The final round saw Edgar go back to scoring from the outside, before taking Stephens to the ground again. When it was all said and done, the judges gave the nod to Edgar on all three scorecards.
Lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov remained undefeated and halted the momentum of fellow contender Michael Johnson with a one-sided beatdown. Johnson scored early with crisp striking and hand speed. Nurmagomedov was wobbled, but turned the tide of the fight by earning a takedown. Once on top, Nurmagomedov battered Johnson with a barrage of punches and elbows from the mounted crucifix. Round two was even more dominant for Nurmagomedov, as he took Johnson down early and rained left hand after left hand. The final stanza saw Nurmagomedov again gain the mount, but this time he attacked with a kimura and coerced a tap from Johnson.
Middleweight Tim Boetsch scored a violent, first-round knockout of Rafael Natal. Boetsch chased Natal around the cage early, frequently landing his right hand. A cut opened over the left eye of Natal from the consistent shots. Late in the round, Boetsch again connected with a right hand that turned out the lights on Natal. Two follow-up shots forced the referee to halt the bout.
Kicking off the televised prelims, Vicente Luque made short work of opponent Belal Muhammad. Luque marched forward from the opening bell, keeping the pressure on Muhammad. Muhammad tried to answer, but ate a counter left hook from Luque that sent him crashing to the canvas. Luque followed up with more punches and the fight was waved off.
Veterans Jim Miller and Thiago Alves battled hard for three rounds, with Miller taking home the victory on the scorecards. Alves appeared a step slow in his first fight below welterweight, which allowed Miller to score with left hands. Alves threw a head kick, but Miller caught it and earned a takedown. Alves was able to get back to his feet, but Miller’s control and wrestling were the story of the fight. Every time Alves started to find his rhythm, Miller would take the fight to the mat and swing the fight back his way.
Former bantamweight title challenger Liz Carmouche handed Katlyn Chookagian her first career loss by way of split decision. Chookagian tried to stay on the outside during the first two rounds, but Carmouche was able to get inside and score with multiple slams. Her wrestling was the difference, as Chookagian could not mount offense from her back. Chookagian went for broke in the final frame, dropping Carmouche with a head kick, but she couldn’t score the finish. The fight went the distance and two of the three judges rewarded Carmouche for her efforts.