Wednesday, November 16, 2016

UFC 205 Recap #UFC205 #McGregorvsAlverez

By Pat Luhta, @PLuhta

The UFC finally made it's much anticipated debut in New York City on Saturday night, putting together the best fight card that the company has ever seen. The UFC has not been to New York in 21 years, as an MMA ban was placed on the state which barred them from hosting events. Earlier this year, the ban was lifted and soon after, the UFC staked their claim by booking Madison Square Garden on November 12th. Three title fights and  3 other potential #1 contender fights highlight the 11 fight card. Despite some late scraps as the Rashad Evans-Tim Kennedy and Kelvin Gastelum - Donald Cerrone were cancelled, the fight card was still over the top and worthy of putting on a show in front of the NYC crowd.


The preliminary fights were headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov - Michael Johnson and Frankie Edgar-Jeremy Stephens. Both fights are looked at as #1 contender fights, the winner getting the next title shot in their division.

Michael Johnson found himself out to the early lead, using his speed to land some big punches and getting Khabib wobbly on his feet. That was short-lived however, as Nurmagomedov was able to secure a takedown and grapple from top position for the remainder of the round. In Round 2, Johnson came out noticeably slower, showing signs of fatigue likely due to using so much energy in round 1 when he was dominated on the ground. Khabib again secured a takedown and continued to go for a finish, with the ref nearly stepping in numerous times to stop the fight. The writing was on the wall heading into round 3, Nurmagomedov again got the takedown and this time was able to lock in a Kimura submission for the win. Khabib Nurmagomedov wins by 3rd round submission, bringing his record to 24-0 and all but securing the next shot at the lightweight belt.

Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens headlined the preliminaries and round 1 started with Edgar trying numerous times to take Stephens down. Nothing substantial as far as offense goes in round 1, Edgar staying away from Stephens' powerful punches while using quick jabs to counter. Towards the end of the round an inadvertent eye poke temporarily stops the action as the ref calls a doctor in to check on Frankie Edgar, after clearing him to fight and they trade a few shots before the end of the round.

Round 2, Edgar again tries for takedowns and gets a short-lived one as they almost immediately go back to the feet. Edgar clips Stephens with a few small jabs again, then Stephens lands a vicious kick that drops Edgar to the mat. Edgar withstands the ground and pound and regroups, followed by shooting for a takedown and getting it. He then tried to lock in a guillotine but couldn't quite sink it in. The round ends with Edgar in top position throwing some elbows.

Frankie Edgar begins round 3 by going for a takedown again, and gets one by catching a Stephens kick and taking him down. Edgar dominates on the ground for the next 3 minutes, with Stephens finally getting back to his feet around the 2 minute mark. Edgar then tries to get it back to the ground but is denied by Stephens, but Stephens isn't able to close the distance and land the necessary strikes to get the finish the he needed in order to win.

RESULT: The 3rd and final round ends and Frankie Edgar is announced as the winner by decision.

Frankie Edgar is now in a weird spot, he's likely the #1 contender but may not get a shot. The current champ, Conor McGregor, is going for the lightweight belt and will likely forfeit his featherweight title if he wins, and the interim featherweight champ is Jose Aldo who beat Edgar for the belt. Edgar will likely have to see how this plays out, with no title shot guaranteed in his future.



The main card kicks off with a women's bantamweight bout. Raquel Pennington was a contestant on the Ultimate Fighter show, and Miesha Tate was her coach that season. "Rocky" started her UFC career at 2-2 but is now on a 3 fight win streak, while Tate is looking to get back into the win column here after losing her bantamweight title to Amanda Nunes back at UFC 200.

Pennington starts out by using her boxing to land big punches while Tate is trying to go for a takedown. They get into a clinch and Pennington looks to lock in a guillotine, but Tate fights out of it after a few tries of pushing off the cage. Once she is free, Miesha then was able to get the takedown and looks to take her back up against the cage. She couldn't get good enough position to lock in anything though, and just takes her down again before the bell in hopes of "stealing" that round.

Pennington opens up round 2 just like she did in round 1, using her jab to keep distance while doing damage. Tate was able to get inside for a clinch and landed some big knees, followed by an big elbow as they remain up against the cage. Pennington then went on the offensive, landing some shots in close range along with mixing in some knees while they are still tangled up. Tate then frees herself and tried going back on the offensive, but Rocky threw a big uppercut that landed followed by some big left hands to close out round 2.

Miesha Tate must have felt her own desperation, as she came out in round 3 swinging wildly in hopes of landing something, but Pennington punched back and landed some stiff shots while avoiding Miesha's punches. The fight then went to the ground after a failed attempt by Tate, which put Pennington in top position for some ground and pound. Tate saw an opportunity to go for a triangle choke, but Rocky defended it well, switched positions and landed some more shots from top position. Pennington stood up to defend a heel hook submission and escapes, leaving Tate to defend herself while on her back. In the final minute, Pennington remained the aggressor as she clinched up with Tate and landed a few big strikes followed by tripping her down to the mat and landing some hammer fists as the bell rings.


Pennington is now on a 4 fight win streak and has now beaten a top 5 fighter. While a title shot isn't immediately on deck for her, potential fights against Julianna Pena(who was also on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter and ended up winning it) or a re-match against Holly Holm are very intriguing  fights that could land her in the title discussion sometime in 2017. Miesha Tate, however, took her octagon interview time to announce her retirement. She's only 30 but has been in this sport for over a decade now and feels it's time for the "newer" fighters(such as Raquel Pennington) to take over the sport. While her announcement was sudden, we'll see how serious of a decision this really is.


Chris Weidman finally gets to fight in front of hometown fans now that the MMA ban is lifted. Romero is making his return from a 6 month suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. This fight is more than likely for the #1 contender in the middleweight division, both have said that a win here and they will demand for one.

Round 1 starts by Weidman remaining very cautious of Romero's strength, both fighters coming in looking timid as Romero does not want to get in a wrestling match with Weidman. Romero lands a big kick to the ribs that forces Weidman to go for the takedown before Romero could do any more damage. After getting a short-lived takedown, Weidman then lands a big kick along with a few other low kicks to Romero's leg. They end up in a clinch that Weidman controls to end the 1st round.

Weidman begins the round by landing a few quick strikes but then goes for the takedown which was blocked by Romero. He then continues to kick low, landing some good kicks to Romero's front leg. Romero then trips Weidman down, and after Weidman tried popping back up, Romero took his back and started landed knees to Weiman's leg. Weidman attempts a guillotine choke, but was denied as Romero then landed some short strikes to end the round.

With it looking like each fighter won a round each, this will be the deciding round if it goes the distance.  It didn't get there though, as Weidman tries for a takedown as Romero launches a flying knee that connects and knocks Weidman out cold. Romero got a punch or two in before the ref could jump in and stop the fight, leaving Weidman busted up bleeding on the canvas.


After winning his first 9 UFC fights, Weidman has now lost two straight. The former champ was hoping that he would earn a title shot with a win here, now it seems as though he will have to win a few fights before getting back into the title picture. Romero should be in line to get the next middleweight fight now. Current champ, Michael Bisping wants to fight before the year is over and while Romero won't be taking that fight, he should get the winner of it.


The first of 3 title fights starts here, with the women's strawweight title on the line.
Joanna begins the round with some sharp leg kicks, mixing in some right hands as well. Karolina tries pushing the pace and getting the champ in the clinch, but her attempts are unsuccessful as Joanna keeps the fight standing. Joanna continues her striking while thwarting another clinch attempt to end round 1.

Karolina continues to try to clinch up to begin round 2. Joanna finds her rhythm with some sharp punches and counterpunches, as Karolina keeps trying to get her up against the cage. She briefly gets a clinch, but Joanna quickly disengages and continues to pick her apart with her strikes. The last attempt to tie up ends with Joanna breaking free and landing a big elbow as they stay standing for the remainder of round 2.

Round 3 again begins with a clinch attempt, followed by an escape. Joanna then laces a few big shots, and at this point Karolina is doing more dodging than anything. Joanna continues to be the aggressor, throwing numerous punches and leg kicks before blocking another clinch attempt. Then, Joanna switches things up and engages in the clinch, controlling Karolina up against the fence. They break with little time left in the round, Karolina throws some punches that all miss as the round ends.

They get right into the clinch as round 4 starts, and as they separate Joanna connects with a few low kicks. Karolina then pops Joanna with a big right as Joanna falls back into the cage. Karolina starts throwing combos up against the cage while Joanna is stunned, and a surprising upset may be coming here shortly if the ref stops it. Joanna finds a way to get away from Karolina and re-establishes herself, throwing jabs and keeping her distance. With under a minute left, Karolinas connects again with a big right but this time it doesn't stagger Joanna back and the round ends.

Joanna starts round 5 by clinching Karolina, who quickly shoves her away and follows it with a nice elbow.Joanna then sticks to her gameplan and utilizes her leg kicks, following them up with some big strikes whenever Karolina tries countering.Both fighters then start throwing strikes recklessly, both connecting with some major shots but with Joanna getting the better of it. She then gets Karolina up against the cage and hits her with a few strikes as Karolina tries to escape. The round comes to a close with both women standing up and throwing strikes.


Joanna keeps her title and her dominance over the straw-weight division, though this was easily her toughest title defense. There's not much left for the champ to accomplish, a fight with Jessica Andrade or a re-match against Carla Esparza does make sense but this could lead to an opening of a women's flyweight division .

For Karolina, she put up a major fight against the division's top striker and nearly had it in round 4. This could lead to a rematch down the road against Joanna, with possibly having to fight someone in between.


The welterweight belt is up for grabs here, with a rare situation of the champ, Tyron Woodley, being the underdog in this fight.
Both fighters come out in round 1 as they try to find their distance, with more missed strikes than anything. Woodley then catches a kick and takes Thompson down, throwing left hands to his body while in half guard. He get in position for some ground and pound, switching positions well as Thompson tries to wiggle out, and ends round 1 with some elbows as the round was all Woodley.

Round 2 starts and Woodley again tries getting this fight to the ground, both fighters are skilled strikers but Woodley's big advantage is on the ground. Thompson lands a big knee though while Woodley has him in the clinch, and then separates from him. He then find some range and hits Woodley with a spinning kick and some body shots. Thompson gets a good punch in that connects on Woodley's chin, but Woodley smartly backs off and circles the cage until the round ends.

Both fighters are swinging and missing to begin round 3, as nearly half the round goes by without any significant offense. Woodley then comes in with a jab which is countered by a big kick by Thompson, followed by a low kick that almost makes Woodley fall to the ground. As Thompson seems to have this round in the bag, continuing to land some kicks, then with 10 seconds remaining Woodley lands a couple big punches which could have stole the round.

Woodley fires a big right hand that lands and knocks Thompson to the canvas. He cannot capitalize on this at first, but lands another big shot that drops Thompson again. As Thompson regains his feet, Woodley attempts a standing guillotine submission which looks locked in. Woodley switches up, trying a few different variations of the submission, all of which seems to be sunk in deep, but cannot get Thompson to tap out. Thompson then finally wiggles himself free, finding himself on top mount and finishes the round with some ground and pound.

The fighters come out hesitant in round 5, maybe feeling some fatigue after round 4's furious submission attempts by Woodley. Thompson begins to close distance and stings Woodley with some combinations. Woodley lands a kick in attempts to set up a combo but Thompson thwarts his punches. Thompson then lands a kick and follows it up by a good jab, as Woodley seems be waiting for the bell, and we are headed for a decision.


This was a really weird post fight, beginning with Bruce Buffer leaving the octagon to convene as the fighters were awaiting the decision announcement. After the delay, Buffer then comes in an announces that the winner by majority decision was Tyron Woodley. Almost immediately after the announcement was made, Dana White got both Woodley and Thompson from their corners to re-do the official announcement since there was a mistake. Bruce Buffer then announces that instead of a majority decision that it is considered a majority draw, neither fighter wins and Tyron Woodley retains his belt.

A rematch needs to happen, no fighter won and it was an excellent fight, Woodley vs Thompson 2 needs to be in the works.


The lightweight title is on the line, Alvarez looks to defend his title for the first time while McGregor looks to become the first ever UFC fighter to hold 2 belts at one time.

Alvarez starts out by trying to chop down McGregor's lead leg with some sharp kicks, but tries to come in with some wide punches that McGregor picks apart with a big left hand and knocks Alvarez down. The champ was able to regain his footing before McGregor could capitalize with ground and pound, and Alvarez looks to tie him up against the cage. McGregor shoves Alvarez away though and follows up with another big left hand. McGregor then knocks Alvarez down once again, this time it stays on the ground as McGregor lands some shots as Alvarez just clings on and defends himself. Alvarez was able to finally roll out and get to his feet, and goes for a takedown when McGregor tries pushing the pace. McGregor shows good takedown defense though and both fighters end round 1 on their feet.

McGregor starts round 2 by landing another big left then defending another takedown attempt. As the fighters separate, McGregor puts both hands behind his back and taunts Alvarez, showing his confidence and cockiness. Alvarez then comes at him with some swings but cannot connect, and gets McGregor up against the cage in attempts to grind out a takedown. The two then separate after the takedown was unsuccessful, McGregor then lands that signature left hand that puts Alvarez in a daze which is followed by a stiff right hook that floors Alvarez. McGregor then pounces on his near-unconscious opponent and the ref steps in and calls the fight.


This fight was all McGregor, and the new lightweight champ let everyone know how good he in the post-fight  octagon interview. He demanded that he have both belts present, got his wish and posed atop the cage with both belts in hand.

What's next for McGregor? Who knows. He has catapulted himself to the top draw in UFC history and has backed up everything that he has talked. He apparently will be taking some time away from the sport for personal reasons and will likely have to give up the featherweight belt, which he hasn't defended at all yet and won it 11 months ago. The spectrum is very broad for what his next move may be, too tough to even predict anything but do not be surprised if we get a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz sometime in 2017.

For Alvarez, his 3 fight win streak is snapped and all lightweight fighters, including him, will be left in limbo while the UFC world waits on Conor McGregor. If McGregor keeps the lightweight belt but is remaining out for the next 9 months or so, then we could see him take on Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson in the future, though both fighters are awaiting a title shot so they may also be sitting out for an extended period of time while they wait to see what is going to happen with the lightweight belt.


What a great card, and what great performances across the board. The UFC needed this after the debacle that UFC 200 was, and it delivered big time. The entire card was filled with great fights and the UFC broke a bunch of PPV records, their first time in New York City was a giant success for the company and there is little doubt that they will be back, sooner rather than later.

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