History in the Big Apple

ufc-205The UFC held one of its biggest cards ever only a few months ago when they celebrated UFC 200 with what seemed like a great card.

That night never worked out as many had thought it could with injuries and bad performances only hurting what was supposed to be a monumental night.

It was a disappointment for what was to be the biggest night in UFC history but shortly after they got the opportunity to try again.

This time it was due to the fact that the UFC had the opportunity to fight in the one city they have been eyeing since the Fertitta brothers bought the promotion in 2001.

New York City has been home to some massive events and Madison Square Garden is the place where legends in the fifth game have been made.

MMA had been banned from the state though and the UFC was fighting a long battle to get the sport legalised.

This year it finally did and the UFC jumped at the chance to get into MSG and hold a fight in the legendary arena.

At UFC 205 the promotion looked to put on a night that would break records and change the standing of the sport.

On paper, they did exactly that with a fight card full of fights that could have headlined any number of events in the UFC.

There were the inevitable issues as Rashad Evans was pulled from the fight card after a medical revealed something that concerned the New York State Athletic Commission enough to pull him from the card.

Then came Kelvin Gastelum missing weight and the New York rules came into effect as they will not allow anyone to fight unless they are at least within 5 lbs of each other and the difference between Donald Cerrone and Gastelum was more than that leading to the fight being pulled.mma-sidebar.fw

Most cards would see those fights gone and the card wouldn’t look nearly as great but the UFC had put together a great enough card that it didn’t matter.

Despite the loss of excitement for those two fights everyone was tuning in and waiting for the triple main events that featured some potential history-making fights.

First-up was the one and only UFC strawweight champion, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, against her fellow Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

If Kowalkiewicz could get the win she would be the first to ever beat Jędrzejczyk in the UFC and would become only the second strawweight titleholder ever.

The champion started the fight showing exactly why she has been the only strawweight champion in UFC history.

She was clearly the better fighter throughout the first three rounds winning every round and seeming like she was ready for an easy win.

The fourth round was different though as Kowalkiewicz landed a big shot against Jędrzejczyk sending her back for the first time since her first fight against Claudio Gadelha.

Kowalkiewicz looked to capitalise but the champion was too tough and the challenger couldn’t get it done.

The fight went to decision and although Kowalkiewicz did well it wasn’t anywhere near well enough to take the win as Jędrzejczyk remained the only strawweight champion.

Next up was Tyron Woodley defending his belt against the man most see as the future of the welterweight division.

This fight was all about the disrespect but only the disrespect heaped on Woodley by those who created the odds.

Most champions come into their fights as favourites to win even if it is just slightly but Woodley did not get that experience.

Instead, he came in as the underdog just like he had when he beat Robbie Lawler for the title and this fight was all about proving that he could do it as he looked to shut everyone up and finally get the respect he thought he deserved.

It wasn’t easy for the champion as Thompson provided a tough challenge with his unique style and fighting pedigree.

Throughout the fight, both fighters showed exactly why they were there with Thompson using his style to get off plenty of punches and Woodley had his own flashes of power and wrestling.ufc-205ii

In the first round Woodley used his wrestling to dominate and in the fourth, he used his power to come close to ending the fight before sinking in a tight guillotine.

Nothing seemed to be able to get Thompson out of the octagon though as the fight ended and the judges were called upon to make a decision.

Two of them couldn’t as they scored the fight a draw while one gave it to Woodley leading to a majority draw that kept the belt around the waist of Woodley who hopes to gain some respect from the win.

Finally, the true record breaker was in the main event as Conor McGregor looked to take two belts against Eddie Alvarez.

There had never been a fighter in UFC history who held to belts at the same time and if McGregor could beat the lightweight champion, Alvarez, he would be the first to do just that.

From the start of the fight, McGregor took control as Alvarez had nothing for him allowing McGregor to land his great right hand and from the first round they landed.

Alvarez took the punches well and stayed standing throughout the first three rounds but eventually he fell and in the third round McGregor landed his last left hand to take the lightweight title.

The real question now is what happens next with the UFC claiming that they won’t let him keep the belt and McGregor wanting to defend both belts simultaneously there is sure to be some negotiations.

The first fight in New York City was a rare case where the hype matched the product as history was made in more ways than one and the fights matched what was expected.

It was the best the promotion could have hoped for as an introduction to the city and with two more fights already planned in Albany and Brooklyn the UFC is ready to put its stamp in the last major untapped market for MMA.

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