UFC 205 in MSG Saturday, as it was meant to be
by Bryan Fonseca
Nov 08, 2016 | 17387 views | 0 0 comments | 1122 1122 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When it’s in Madison Square Garden, you just know.

Now take the biggest and most outspoken champion in all of combat sports and put him in the Garden, once again, you just know.

Make it the first time ever in the history of the fastest rising brand in sports, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and you have one of the signature sporting events of the year, right in New York City.

It just feels right.

On Saturday, November 12, UFC 205 will bring the Octagon to the sports mecca of the world, marking the first time in history that the organization holds an event in New York City after previously being banned for a number of years.

The fight card? Arguably the strongest of the year, which should go down as the best UFC event of 2016, and potentially one of the best ever.

The preliminary card, which will be available to those in attendance as well as the UFC Fight Pass contingent, gets off to a strong start highlighted by New Jersey native Jim Miller (27-8) taking on former UFC welterweight title contender Thiago Alves (26-10) at lightweight.

Also, on the Fight Pass portion of the card is Rafael Natal (21-7-1), a Brazilian middleweight who now fights out of New York, taking on journeyman Tim Boetsch (19-10), who recently snapped a three-fight losing streak.

Moving on to the Fox Sports One Preliminary Card, which is scheduled to begin with two welterweights, as New Jersey native Vicente Luque (10-5-1) takes on Belal Muhammad (10-1), followed by New York native and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans (24-5-1), who’s lost two straight, facing Tim Kennedy (18-5), at middleweight, a new weight for Evans.

Next up on the FS1 prelims is a lightweight contest featuring number two-ranked 155-pounder Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) in a showcase bout opposite Michael Johnson (18-10), who currently ranks as sixth in the UFC lightweight rankings.

In what is scheduled to be the final preliminary bout, former UFC Lightweight title-holder and current number two-ranked featherweight Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) of New Jersey will take on seventh-ranked Jeremy Stephens (25-12).

Leading one of the most stacked main cards of the year is former UFC Bantamweight Champion, and one of the more accomplished female combatants in MMA history in Miesha Tate (18-6). Tate looks to make a triumphant return after being forced to submit and in effect losing her title at UFC 200 this past summer to Amanda Nunes.

Tate, who is ranked first in the division, will throw down with Raquel Pennington (8-5), the eighth- ranked female bantamweight in the world. Pennington has won three straight since losing to Holly Holm at UFC 184 in February 2015.

Second is a match-up of two welterweights, Kelvin Gastelum (12-2) and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (31-7). Gastelum and Cerrone currently rank as the fifth and sixth welterweights in the world leading up to fight night.

Last time out, Gastelum defeated Johnny Hendricks by decision on the UFC 200 undercard, while Cerrone TKO’d Rick Story on UFC 202 in April, and is riding a three-fight win streak.

Baldwin, New York, native Chris Weidman (13-1) hasn’t fought in nearly a year since losing his first pro MMA fight last December by TKO to Luke Rockhold, ending his UFC Middleweight Championship run, which lasted over two years and three successful title defenses after dethroning the legendary Anderson Silva.

Weidman currently ranks as the second middleweight in UFC, and will face off with Cuban0-born Yoel Romero (12-1), the number four middleweight in the world, who enters UFC 205 having won seven straight, five by knockout.

One of the co-feature bouts stars the only female on the current top-15 UFC Pound-For-Pound list, the undefeated UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0). The Polish native is one of two undefeated fighters who will do battle on the main pay-per-view portion of the potentially classic card.

The other will be standing right across the octagon.

Fellow Polish product Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0) is the second-ranked Strawweight and will look to continue her undefeated streak in by far the biggest fight of her career when she takes on her fellow countrywoman.

Co-main eventing the night is the newly crowned UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley (16-3), who stunningly disposed of Robbie Lawler to win the title after 2:12 of round one in UFC 201.

Woodley’s first title defense will be against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (13-1), who’s strung together a collection wins (seven straight) to earn a number two ranking, and a shot at the strap.

Finally, the main event contest is a champion-versus-champion bout, featuring the UFC Lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez (28-4), and the biggest star in all of fighting (Floyd Mayweather aside), the current UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor (20-3).

McGregor was a late addition to the card, a pleasant surprise to UFC fans and media when announced weeks ago. The outspoken, charismatic Irish champion is looking to build on his close revenge win over Nate Diaz after losing to Diaz in surprising fashion this past March.

It will be McGregor’s third fight of 2016, and his first since only August 20 when he headlined UFC 202.

Alvarez defeated Rafael Dos Anjos to win the title in July, and McGregor is scheduled to serve as his first (and, as McGregor will tell you, his last) title defense.

Coming in, Alvarez has won 6-of-7 fights, including three straight, with the defeat coming by unanimous decision to the aforementioned “Cowboy” Cerrone in September 2014.

The fight card is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, with the UFC Fight Pass portion kicking off at 6 p.m., the FS1 broadcast beginning at 8 p.m., and the PPV main card taking center stage at 10 p.m.

Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.
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