Even though the UFC Octagon has only called Madison Square Garden home five times, the world’s greatest arena has been the setting for some incredible and iconic moments.
As we prepare for UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira, look back at the best UFC moments to happen at MSG.
Best UFC Moments From Madison Square Garden
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Best UFC Moments From Madison Square Garden
UFC 205 – November 12, 2016
- First Event in New York City
- Khabib Nurmagomedov Dominates Michael Johnson
- Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson 1
- Conor McGregor Becomes First Double Champ
When Conor McGregor knocked out Eddie Alvarez to claim the UFC lightweight title it was truly an electric ending to a perfect night. There was so much anticipation in the lead up to the UFC’s first event in New York City, and for it to go down as it did with three title fights plus incredible performances by the likes of Yoel Romero, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Vicente Luque and many more, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
It was the right way to kick off the history between the UFC and MSG.
UFC 217 – November 4, 2017
- Ricardo Ramos’ Spinning Elbow KO
- Ovince Saint Preux’ Head Kick KO
- TJ Dillashaw Comes Back to Beat Cody Garbrandt
- Rose Namajunas Becomes the Strawweight Champion
- The Return Of GSP
One-upping UFC 205 was a tough task, but bringing one of, if not the, greatest fighters in UFC history back certainly helped UFC 217 become one of the biggest events in company history.
From start to finish, UFC 217 brought the heat. It started out with Ricardo Ramos landing a masterful spinning elbow KO against Aiemann Zahabi and ended with Georges St-Pierre making his epic return against middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
In addition, TJ Dillashaw and Rose Namajunas both were spectacular en route to winning their respective titles. It may not have been the first MSG event, but UFC 217 will always be a standout night.
UFC 230 – November 3, 2018
- Israel Adesanya Takes Down Derek Brunson
- Jacare Souza and Chris Weidman Go to War
At UFC 230, future middleweight champion Israel Adesanya backed up all his smack talk with a jaw-dropping performance against Derek Brunson. “The Last Stylebender” pieced Brunson up and finished his KO win with a dance that made its way on to every highlight reel. It was the moment that the world realized Adesanya was going to be the UFC’s next big star.
UFC 230’s Fight of the Night went to longtime veterans Jacare Souza and Chris Weidman after the two absolutely left it all in the Octagon. Both fighters traded strikes and battled through adversity until Souza was able to land the finishing blow. Although the stoppage was a little awkward, it was the correct time to call the fight and protect Weidman from absorbing more damage.
While it might not have had as many title fights or as much star power, UFC 230 was unforgettable.
UFC 244 – November 2, 2019
- Edmen Shahbazyan Stops Brad Tavares
- Kevin Lee KOs Gregor Gillespie
- The Rock Introduces the BMF Belt
- Jorge Masvidal Wins the BMF Belt
UFC 244 is unlike any other UFC event in history. The UFC created a title based off a nickname and it was perfect. The “BMF” title was born and up for grabs between Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz, live in front of a sold-out crowd at MSG.
But before two of the realest in the sport threw down, the fans inside MSG were treated to two magnificent head kick KOs. Edmen Shahbazyan announced his presence as a real middleweight contender by finishing Brad Tavares with a beautifully disguised high kick and Kevin Lee silenced critics by landing a devastating head kick on Gregor Gillespie.
Then it was time for the BMF belt, which was introduced by The Rock, which was awesome. Masvidal and Diaz put on a very entertaining scrap, with Masvidal landing powerful shots and pouring on the damage. Masvidal was in control, but Diaz was gaining momentum heading into the final rounds when the doctor chose to call the fight due to a cut on Diaz’s eye.
It was an anticlimactic end to an incredible night, but the execution of the event and the moment remains top notch.
UFC 268 - November 6, 2021
- Chris Barnett's spinning wheelkick KO and celebration
- Meet Alex Pereira
- Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler goes down as Fight of the Year
- Marlon Vera front kick KOs Frankie Edgar
UFC 268 featured some of the biggest stars in the sport and they absolutely delivered. It was also the beginning of stardom for some new faces.
Heavyweight Chris Barnett became an instant legend after his spinning wheelkick knockout of Gian Villante. The only thing better than the finish itself was Barnett's flip celebration. And just like that the legend of "Beast Boy" was born.
On the prelims, kickboxing champion Alex Pereira made his UFC debut in terrifying fashion. "Poatan" started off his UFC career with a flying knee TKO win over Andreas Michailidis. He then blazed through his next two UFC fights on the way this weekend's championship bout with Israel Adesanya.
Fight fans all knew that lightweights Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler would put on a show, but I don't think they were ready for the firefight that took place. It was a fight that had everything you could ask for, including big moments for both fighters. In the end it was Gaethje that got the nod but it was the fans that really won.
Marlon "Chito" Vera continued his rise up the bantamweight ranks with a devastating front kick knockout late in his bout with Frankie Edgar. It was a trademark victory for Vera and was exactly what he needed to position himself as one of the division's elite fighters.
UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 12, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!