The Ultimate Fighter
For years UFC president Dana White promised the biggest and baddest fight card in history when the UFC finally hit Madison Square Garden in New York City for the first time. And the boss delivered in a big way.
So it’s only right that this edition of “Reasons to Watch” is as big and as bad. Here are the 10 reasons to watch UFC 205 live on pay-per-view Saturday night.
1 – The historic pursuit of a second world title
Only one other man has ever been crazy enough to attempt to secure a second world championship while already reigning in a separate weight class. BJ Penn took on Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title at UFC 94, but failed to bring home the belt.
UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor now takes his shot when he battles Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight championship in the main event. McGregor was a two-weight world champion in Cage Warriors before his run in the UFC and has been eyeing this feat ever since he first signed to compete in the Octagon.
More on UFC 205: Fight card for Nov. 12 | Champions Alvarez, McGregor to headline historic card | Woodley-Wonderboy welterweight title clash set | Polish stars Jedrzejczyk, Kowalkiewicz perfect for NYC | Preview the main card, and the prelims | By the Numbers: UFC 205 has big non-title fights too | Limited seats available
2 – Conor answering the wrestler question once again
In Alvarez, McGregor faces arguably his toughest test to date: a high-level MMA striker with elite wrestling skills and a tireless clinch game.
McGregor was able to beat Chad Mendes in UFC 189 for the interim featherweight title, but he spent some time on his back during that bout and ate some shots. Alvarez is bigger and more seasoned than Mendes, making him the ultimate test for McGregor, whose grappling skills have been called into question for the majority of his career.
3 – How good is Alvarez?
While he was winning championships and running up his win total outside the UFC, “The Underground King” made a name for himself because of his brawling fight style and penchant for putting on exciting fights.
He’s won three in a row since dropping his first one in the UFC against Donald Cerrone, and his TKO finish of former champion Rafael Dos Anjos is about as good as it gets. This fight against McGregor, who is ranked as the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, is going to tell a lot about Alvarez.
4 – What will win, power or volume?
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley takes on challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson for the welterweight title. “The Chosen One” has the most first-round KOs since 2013 with four, while Wonderboy like to throw punches in bunches, averaging 4.69 significant strikes per minute (fifth-highest rate in division).
Woodley knocked out former king Robbie Lawler in just over two minutes at UFC 201, but is going into this bout with Thompson as a 2-to-1 underdog. Thompson’s kickboxing background and evolving takedown defense make him an intriguing foe for the new champion.
5 – Polish power coming to the Octagon
UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is arguably the most destructive champion on the roster. She’s sledgehammered her way through the division and now is set to make her fourth title defense.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz is a standup specialist as well, which makes this showdown a leading contender for Fight of the Night. White said that he specifically signed Kowalkiewicz because Jedrzejczyk said she was hearing too much about her in their native Poland, and she wanted to eventually fight her to prove she is the best in Poland.
6 – The All American makes his NY debut
New York’s Chris Weidman has been waiting for the day he can make the walk inside MSG his entire life. He’s been out on the campaign trail, advocating for MMA in New York State, for many years.
Weidman now gets his dream fight inside the Garden against middleweight surging contender Yoel Romero. Both fighters are super wrestlers with knockout power, and the winner could be next in line for a title shot against Michael Bisping.
7 – A pair of former champs eager to make the climb back to the top
Frankie Edgar headlines the FS1 prelims against Jeremy Stephens while Miesha Tate, who is coming off a disappointing loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 that cost her the title, takes on Raquel Pennington to open the main card.
Think about this: Tate just headlined UFC 200 as the women’s bantamweight champion and Edgar, a former lightweight champ, just fought for the interim featherweight crown. And these two are fighting in the middle of the card in New York City.
8 – Khabib continues his quest for title shot
Johnson just took out Dustin Poirier by knockout in the first round last time out and his speed and wrestling prowess make for an extremely interesting matchup for Nurmaomedov. The Russian has been campaigning for a title shot for years and needed this one to continue to make his case.
9 – Rashad debuts at 185
Evans’ size and speed have led to experts pontificating for years about how a move to 185 would do wonders for “Suga.” Kennedy is a great first test for Evans in this one.
10 – With this collection of fights, how can you miss it?
Eight current or former champions; 12 fighters ranked in the Top 5 of their division; three title fights. There is no disputing the absolute craziness of this card. Anything can happen.
Don’t miss UFC 205 live on Pay-Per-View. Pre-order the Pay-Per-View now, or if you are in New York City a few tickets still remain so you can join us at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC