Here are 11 reasons to watch UFC 205.
1. Chasing history
You could argue that McGregor has fulfilled his promise of taking over the UFC. He’s the biggest draw in the sport, the most powerful athlete in the sport and the highest paid mixed martial artist in the world. However, the way McGregor sees it, there’s still one thing missing from his resume: a second UFC title.
McGregor (20-3 in Martial Arts, 8-1 in the UFC), the featherweight champ and No. 1 ranked fighter in that division in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, looks to change that when he faces Alvarez (28-4 in Martial Arts, 3-1 UFC), the No. 1 ranked lightweight and owner of the 155-pound title.
It’s hard to find fence sitters when it comes to McGregor. Fans either love him or hate him, and both groups will undoubtedly watch this fight in the hope their stance on McGregor is validated by the outcome.
2. Capturing hearts and minds
Woodley, the No. 1 ranked welterweight, can be forgiven if he feels disrespected heading into his first title defense. Maybe it’s because Woodley is the underdog to the No. 2-ranked Thompson. Maybe it’s because some fans believe he got lucky when he knocked out Robbie Lawler to win the title at UFC 201. Maybe it’s because of his losses to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald, or maybe it’s something more nefarious. Whatever the reason, some have doubts about Woodley.
Woodley (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) can erase those doubts by halting Thompson’s (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) seven-fight winning streak, which won’t be an easy task.
Woodley has to overcome Thomspon’s control of range and get inside on the elusive karate-based fighter, while at the same time avoiding the kicks and flurries that Thompson uses so effectively.
3. From scary to scarier
One of the more surprising things to come out during the UFC 205 buildup was that strawweight champion Jedrzejczyk (12-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) had switched camps and joined American Top Team ahead of her fight against No. 4 ranked Kowalkiewicz (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC).
Camp changes are sometimes risky, but for a fighter like Jedrzejczyk, the No. 1-ranked strawweight, this sounds like a move that could pay huge dividends. At ATT, she has joined some of the best in the business, including women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.
If Jedrzejczyk’s time at ATT results in even a small improvement, her already dominant and overwhelming fighting style could reach untouchable status.
4. They’re back
Chris Weidman suffered the first loss of his career in December 2015, losing his middleweight title to Luke Rockhold by TKO. Now, after neck surgery, Weidman, ranked No. 3 at middleweight, returns, fighting in his home state of New York for the first time and looking to defeat No. 4 ranked Yoel Romero and put his name at the top of the list to face current champion Michael Bisping.
Weidman’s key to victory in this fight might be the work he’s done with striking coach Mark Henry. If Henry can add to the base that longtime coaches Matt Serra and Ray Longo have given Weidman, his rise back to the top of the division might be swift.
Like Weidman (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), Romero (12-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) has been out of action for nearly a year, serving a six-month suspension for a failed drug test following his UFC 194 win over Ronaldo Souza.
5. Bouncing back
On a fight card filled with big names and high stakes, the women’s bantamweight fight between former champion and current No. 3 fighter in the division Miesha Tate and No. 15 ranked Raquel Pennington has flown under the radar.
This is Tate’s first fight since losing the title to Amanda Nunes in July, a loss that also ended Tate’s five-fight winning streak.
Pennington has won her past three heading into this fight, including her most recent bout, a decision win over Elizabeth Phillips at UFC 202.
Tate took a tremendous beating during the Nunes fight. It’s going to be interesting to see how Tate (18-6 MMA, 5-3 UFC) comes back from that bloody loss, especially knowing that Pennington (8-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is going to look to touch her up with her boxing.
As for Pennington, this is by far the biggest fight of her career. Yes, she did go the distance with Holly Holm, losing via a split decision, but that was in Holm’s UFC debut
6. That guy
The most memorable point of the September’s UFC 205 news conference came when No. 12-ranked featherweight Jeremy Stephens interrupted a question directed at McGregor by saying he was the man that would give McGregor his toughest fight. In response, McGregor, feigning befuddlement, replied, “Who the (expletive) is that guy? Who the (expletive) is that?”
Expect that stinging rebuke to be on Stephens’ mind when he faces former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 205.
If – and that’s a huge if – Stephens (25-12 MMA, 12-11 UFC) can get past No. 4-ranked Edgar (20-5-1 MMA, 14-5-1 UFC), expect an inspired post-fight speech from Stephens full of invectives directed at McGregor.
7. Clearing a path
At UFC Fight Night 98, No. 4-ranked lightweight Tony Ferguson put the pressure on No. 2-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov by defeating former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. The win extended Ferguson’s UFC winning streak to nine.
At UFC 205, Nurmagomedov (23-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC), who has seven straight UFC wins, faces the last man to defeat Ferguson, No. 11 ranked Michael Johnson (17-10 MMA, 9-6 UFC).
Before Ferguson’s win over dos Anjos, the thinking was a Nurmagomedov win here would set him up for a title shot. That path no longer seems so clear. Anything short of a dominant win and Nurmagomedov could see that shot slip through his fingers and land in the open palms of Ferguson.
8. Whatever it takes to make the fight happen
Thiago Alves was booked to make his lightweight debut at UFC 205. Instead, after missing the 156-pound limit by 6.6 pounds, Alves (21-10 MMA, 13-7 UFC) faces Jim Miller (27-8 MMA, 16-7 UFC) at a catchweight of 163 pounds.
That the fight is going to happen at all is a testament to Miller’s lunchpail attitude.
New York requires lightweights to be within five pounds of each other at weigh-ins. In order to keep the fight alive, Miller, who said he was on weight, had to rehydrate and come in at 157.6 pounds. Had he checked in on weight, Miller likely would have collected his show money and the fight would have been dropped from the card, much like the Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum fight was when Gastelum did not step on the scale.
Alves surrenders 20 percent of his purse to Miller for missing weight; Miller was not fined.
9. Short camps
As amazing as this card is, let’s not forget that some of these fights, including the main event, were not official until late September. That means that some these fighters will come into Madison Square Garden having gone through short or accelerated fight camps. Couple that with the fact that they’ll be fighting on the biggest card in UFC history, and the possibility of the dreaded adrenaline dump, cardio might be a concern for some of the fighters.
10. The odds
A normal UFC card usually features at least one or two fights with a huge favorite. UFC 205 isn’t a typical card in that respect. The majority of the odds on this card are pretty tight, and that includes two of the three title fights at the top of the bill. Jedrzejczyk is the biggest favorite on the card.
Those type of odds should result in very competitive fights from the first UFC Fight Pass prelim through the pay-per-view main event.
11. The Conor McGregor special treatment…
Normally we only have 10 reasons. But let’s face it: We’re in McGregor’s world here, which even UFC president Dana White admitted to. As such, there’s a bonus reason to watch UFC 205 and that is hearing McGregor make the big announcement he and the UFC have been teasing for the past few weeks.