The Ultimate Fighting Championship finally graced the state of New York this past Saturday in the world famous, Madison Square Garden. With the world watching, Conor McGregor made history by defeating Eddie Alvarez, just as the Irishman had previously predicted. With that being said however, it wasn’t just the main event that millions of spectators from around the globe were tuning in to see. The likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Yoel Romero, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson further cemented their own legacies within the company after impressive individual performances.
For most, UFC 205 in New York will go down as the greatest UFC event of all time after a near two decade ban on the sport of mixed martial arts was finally lifted. From top to bottom, the card was stacked and despite the disappointment of cruelly losing Donald Cerrone vs Kelvin Gastelum on the day of the weigh-ins, the event broke records, along with a certain fighter making history inside the Octagon in sensational fashion. Conor McGregor became a two-weight world champion by defeating the then lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez. That meant the reigning featherweight title holder became the first competitor in the company’s 23-year history to simultaneously hold two belts within the organisation.
Elsewhere on the card, Yoel Romero battled his way past the hometown favourite, Chris Weidman, to seemingly secure a middleweight title shot against the current champion, Michael Bisping, with Dana White recently declaring that it’s the fight that “makes sense.” Romero looked as impressive as ever and finished the fight in the third round after connecting with an unbelievable flying knee that knocked Weidman out. Romero, or the “Soldier of God” as he likes to be called, will more than likely face Bisping within the next 4-8 months.
Another fighter that looked as deadly as ever was the Russian, Khabib Nurmagomedov, who fought Michael Johnson. Johnson, despite a bright start, eventually faded and succumbed to the dominant wrestling style that Nurmagomedov brought to the table. The undefeated fighter treat Johnson like a rag doll at times with takedown after takedown, thus brutally ending the fight in the third round after locking in a kimura, forcing Johnson to tap.
On a personal level, Nurmagomedov’s performance was in my eyes, the best of the night. The fighter never let Johnson breath and looked unstoppable throughout. Nurmagomedov seems to have proven himself a worthy title contender, but despite possessing the longest MMA winning streak of anyone in the company (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC), some still deem him as not quite ready. The new lightweight champ, Conor McGregor, even got in on the debate after his own victory, being quoted as saying;
“I need to see activity; I need to see consistency, if you want me to come change your life, if you want me to come pick you up, you better have some damn reasons for me to do that. We’ll see how that goes.”
Some see these words as fear, some see them as the truth. Something that can’t be disputed however is the fact Khabib Nurmagomedov has only fought twice in the last 31 months, so McGregor does seem to have a point.
In terms of McGregor’s future if he decides not to take up the fight with Nurmagomedov, I think it’s fairly safe to say the trilogy fight with Nate Diaz will be the route he takes at lightweight. The fight would attract millions of pay-per-view buys and it’s an incredible opportunity to finally put the record straight after suffering defeat to Diaz at UFC 196 in Las Vegas.
Where does that leave Nurmagomedov? Well it seems he may need to prove himself some more, by first fighting Tony Ferguson, who many put on a similar level to the Russian fighter- a bout that could comfortably co-main event anything hosted by the UFC. All in all, there’s some potentially incredible fights that could be made, and that’s without dipping into the speculation regarding the heated feud between Tyron Woodley and Conor McGregor!