Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, UFC 205 delivered on all levels.
For the past eight years, Dana White and the UFC have been lobbying to take their entertainment and sports empire to New York City for the first time in history. What had held them back, according to White, was the Las Vegas Culinary Union 226, who according to White, had a big hand in keeping them out.
Via Jesse Holland/mmamania.com: “It’s a lot of political crap. The union out in Las Vegas is the reason it hasn’t happened as funny as that sounds,” said White, “The guys who run the culinary union in Las Vegas are dirty, dirty, dirty guys.”
So finally, in 2016, with a changing of the guard in which the Ferttita brothers, former co-owners of the UFC along with White, stepped down and Hollywood super agent Ari Emmanuel brought an owner’s stake in the company. With this change, the union changed its approach and allowed the UFC to come to New York City, setting up one of the biggest nights in the history of the famed Madison Square Garden.
As the main platform for historic boxing matches, NBA games, concerts by the biggest artists in music, MSG is widely known as the world’s most famous arena. Amidst of all the history inside of that building, on Saturday night, the UFC made its long awaited debut and broke every record there was.
With one of the deepest and most highly anticipated cards in its history, the headliner for the night was the fight between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez.
McGregor is clearly the sport’s biggest draw and one of the most recognizable stars in all of sports due to his extreme confidence, showman personality, and the innate ability to showcase the best of his skills in the octagon in the biggest moments and fights.
What made this event even bigger was the fact that McGregor was supposed to fight in the heralded UFC 200, which was supposed to be the biggest night in the sport at the time, but was taken off the card by White because of his failure to do the obligated press before the fight.
With that behind them, McGregor not only did all the required press, but he made it a moment in history that perfectly set up what would happen on Saturday night.
McGregor, who was seeking to become the first UFC fighter to carry two championship belts in different weight classes simultaneously, showed up to the official pre-fight press conference 30 minutes late, dressed in a white Gucci fur mink coat paired with red checkered Gucci pants. During the presser, McGregor and Alvarez got into a shouting match with trash talking done by both sides and a chair almost being thrown by McGregor. Fortunately, nothing physical took place, they would leave that to Saturday night.
Leading up to the main event, the other fighters on the card made it worth the wait with epic bouts of the own. The biggest highlight of the night came in the undercard fight right before the main event between the Champion in the Welterweight Division Tyron Woodley and the challenger Stephen Thompson.
In what was touted afterwards as “Fight of the Night,” Woodley and Thompson went the distance in what proved to be a match of great strength, heart and the ultimate resolve.
Woodley clearly outmatched Thompson with his strength in the octagon. He unleashed a flurry of heavy doses of powerful punches on Thompson within the first three rounds, with one in particular that seemed to end Thompson’s night. A four punch combination took Thompson to the ground and allowed Woodley to unleash a battery of punches to his face and get him in a guillotine which is almost impossible to get out of without tapping out. Not only did Thompson not tap out, but he miraculously escaped out of Woodley’s grasp and caused the fight to continue, much to the surprise of the entire MSG audience and the millions watching on Pay Per View. The next two rounds looked to be even, with many giving Thompson the last round of the fight. Ultimately, after a recount, the fight ended in a majority draw, which means that although Woodley retains his championship belt, the two will fight again for the same circumstances.
This epic fight was the perfect lead-up to the McGregor-Alvarez fight, which didn’t nearly last as long, but provided just as many fireworks coming from the powerful and quick left hand of McGregor.
Where true fight fans got their fill with a great five round fight between Woodley and Thompson, McGregor ended Alvarez’s night in a quick two rounds.
McGregor dominated from the jump, perfectly executing his game plan of keep a arm’s length distance and getting Alvarez into a boxing match where he was clearly superior while Alvarez was the superior wrestler.
His calm demeanor while in the octagon admittedly lulled Alvarez to sleep and relaxed his usual fiery approach which allowed McGregor to be in complete control of the fight at his pace. With three deadly combinations that each ended with a powerful left handed finish, Alvarez was put to the floor three different times in the first round, getting embarrassed by the precision and power of McGregor who at one point in the round, faced up with Alvarez with his hands behind his back, much to the delight of the crowd. Despite all of this, Alvarez survived the first round.
However, 1:52 into the second round, McGregor dropped alvarez for a fourth and final time as any deadly combination connected and the fight had to be stopped, making McGregor the new champion in the Lightweight Division, adding to his championship already in the Featherweight Division.
After the fight, McGregor spoke about how he totally expected this to happen and why this win opens up many options for him in the future,
Via Spencer Morgan/DailyMail: “Whoever owns this company needs to come to me and give me a real slice. Bring me in on this for real. Make me an owner. I need to be set for life.”
This statement came on the heels of his announcement that he was expecting his first child in 2017 and feels that he’s given everything to the sport and now they need to give back if they want him to continue to fight.
He certainly has a point here. According to White, the event shattered MSG’s gate record with a sell out crowd of 21,284 and over $17 million made at the gate. The PPV total buys will come within the coming days, but with McGregor holding the previous record for buys with his two fights versus Nate Diaz and UFC 194 fight vs Jose Aldo with 1.6, 1.6 and 1.2 million buys respectively.With the hype surrounding this fight, it’s likely that those numbers will point out that a new record will be broken.
McGregor cashed out very well himself as well. Before the fight, he had already made $3 million before the PPV cut allowed his earnings to go well beyond $10 million. By the end of the PPV counts, it is likely that McGregor will have made $40 million.
To be frank, UFC 205 was one of the biggest nights in MSG history and most certainly the biggest night in UFC history.
Do you think McGregor deserves an ownership stake in UFC? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.