Not since the Ancient Olympic Games has there been a fight night so historic … until now.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, the Ultimate Fighting Championship takes some of its biggest stars to New York City for the first time in mixed martial arts history.
After the MMA ban in New York was lifted this past March, the UFC immediately assembled an All-Star team to invade “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden, and this weekend, it all goes down. Featuring four current champions, three former champions, and a slew of hungry veterans right in title contention, UFC 205 is the promotion’s most complete card to date.
Below is the official fight card (subject to change) with some notes on each. The Aquarian Weekly will be on hand to cover this historic event, so be sure to follow along with the action at theaquarian.com for live updates and results.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (7:00 PM)
#9 Liz Carmouche (9-5) vs. #14 Katlyn Chookagian (8-0)
Since losing to Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title, Liz Carmouche is 2-2, and hasn’t fought since April 2015. She’ll make her long-awaited return to the Octagon against Katlyn Chookagian, a tough, undefeated prospect, who fights out of Kenilworth, NJ.
Prediction: Chookagian via decision
Jim Miller (27-8) vs. Thiago Alves (21-10)
Longtime UFC veteran Jim Miller has never been in a boring fight, and the eight-time bonus award recipient is coming off impressive back-to-back wins over Joe Lauzon and Takanori Gomi. Here, he squares off against Thiago “Pitbull” Alves, who hasn’t competed since a doctor stoppage loss against Carlos Condit in May 2015. This will be your classic striker-versus-grappler matchup—13 of Miller’s 27 victories have come via submission, while 12 of Alves’ wins have come via KO.
Prediction: Miller via submission
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 PM)
Vicente Luque (10-5-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (10-1)
Stepping in on short notice to take on Belal “Remember The Name” Muhammad is Vicente “The Silent Assassin” Luque, who’s finished each of his last three opponents in nifty fashion. While the Westwood, NJ native has looked great since entering the UFC last year, he’ll have to be at his absolute best to defeat Muhammad, a free-swinging boxer and former Titan FC welterweight champion. Look for Luque to shoot for the takedown immediately.
Prediction: Muhammad via knockout
#14 Rafael Natal (21-7-1) vs. Tim Boetsch (19-10)
Rafael Natal was on quite the roll prior to dropping his most recent bout to Robert Whittaker, having won four straight contests. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt simply known as “Sapo” will look to get back into the win column vs. Tim Boetsch, the gritty “Barbarian” who’s coming off a TKO victory against the recently deceased Josh Samman (RIP, Josh).
Prediction: Natal via decision
#1 Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) vs. #6 Michael Johnson (18-10)
After battling a myriad of injuries, it would appear Khabib Nurmagomedov is back and ready to make a run at the lightweight title. The undefeated Russian came back earlier this year after a two-year layoff, stopping Darrell Horcher in the second round, and now gets a big step up in competition against Michael Johnson in what will be his toughest fight to date. Johnson looked sensational in his first-round KO win over Dustin Poirier in September, and despite being a nearly three-to-one underdog, “The Menace” has a legitimate chance of handing “The Eagle” his first professional loss.
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via decision
#2 Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) vs. #7 Jeremy Stephens (25-12)
Former lightweight champion and Toms River, NJ native Frankie Edgar disappointed in his last bout, getting hit with brutal leg kicks and crisp combinations from Jose Aldo at UFC 200, in what was an interim featherweight title fight. He should return to form here, though, vs. Jeremy Stephens, the self-proclaimed “hardest-hitting 145-pounder.” Edgar is tough as nails, however, having never lost a fight by KO (or submission, for that matter). He also has the clear-cut cardio advantage, and will be looking to make a statement in his own backyard.
Prediction: Edgar via knockout
Pay-Per-View Main Card (10 PM)
#1 Miesha Tate (18-6) vs. #8 Raquel Pennington (8-6)
Don’t let Raquel Pennington’s record fool you—she has reeled off three straight wins, lands nearly four significant strikes per minute, and gets better each time she steps into the Octagon. Here, she’ll meet Miesha Tate, the #1 ranked bantamweight contender who’s looking to avenge her UFC 200 title loss to Amanda Nunes. Tate has a tendency to start off slow, but in a three-round battle, and against a powerful striker, she’ll need to settle in quickly in order to come out victorious.
Prediction: Pennington via decision
#2 Chris Weidman (13-1) vs. #4 Yoel Romero (11-1)
Had former middleweight champion Chris Weidman not been so vocal about getting MMA legalized in The Empire State, it may very well have remained banned. So, it only makes sense that the Baldwin, NY native gets his wish of fighting at home, where he’ll meet Yoel Romero, the hard-hitting, Olympic silver medalist (2000). Romero will be fighting for the first time since his controversial win last December against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (not only did the judges erroneously give Romero the split-decision win—he lost…clearly—but he also tested positive for a banned substance shortly thereafter, and was sidelined for six months). Here, Weidman will be looking for takedown after takedown, in an attempt to avoid Romero’s deadly punches (82% KO/TKO rate) and test the 39-year-old’s gas tank.
Prediction: Weidman via knockout
Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) vs. #2 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0)
There isn’t a single fight fan who doesn’t enjoy watching strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk compete inside the Octagon. The aggressive, lightning-fast, sweet-talking killer is arguably the most brutal striker in the sport, landing a staggering 6.36 significant strikes per minute (sixth in the UFC). Tonight, she’ll meet Karolina Kowalkiewicz in a rematch of their 2012 amateur bout (Jedrzejczyk won via second-round submission). Kowalkiewicz is one of the best Muay Thai fighters in women’s MMA, and she’ll need to close the distance and use her vicious knees in order to beat Jedrzejczyk, who will be defending her belt for the fourth time. I don’t know if Kowalkiewicz is ready just yet to defeat the #8 ranked pound-for-pound fighter (she should be top five), but this is going to be a bloody, epic battle between two Polish warriors.
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk via decision
Champion Tyron Woodley (16-3) vs. #2 Stephen Thompson (13-1)
Tyron Woodley did not deserve a welterweight title shot in his last bout versus Robbie Lawler, but he passed the test with flying colors and finished Lawler inside Round 1. Now, he’ll get to defend his belt for the first time against Stephen Thompson, the flashy striker known for his unpredictability and deadly knockouts. Surprisingly, the heavy-handed champion is a two-to-one underdog, as many fans are not yet sold on Woodley being the rightful titleholder. In a battle between two knockout artists, it’s tough to pick a winner, and the first to connect with a clean shot may very well win this in short fashion. It would not be surprising to see Woodley test the wrestling of “Wonderboy” right out of the gate, however.
Prediction: Thompson via knockout
Champion Eddie Alvarez (28-4) vs. Champion Conor McGregor (20-3)
Irish superstar Conor McGregor will be fighting for the third time since winning the 145-pound title in December 2015 (we were there!), but surprisingly, he has yet to defend his belt. Instead, he’s been jumping from one weight class to another, competing here against 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez, who’s fresh off his superb first-round TKO title win over Rafael dos Anjos. Both men have legitimate one-punch knockout power, with McGregor representing an 85% KO/TKO rate, and Alvarez a respectable 61%. McGregor will almost certainly need to do two things in order to win here: 1) Defend Alvarez’s takedowns (Alvarez has an underrated ground game, despite not owning a submission win since 2010), and 2) Pace himself out, not throwing everything he has in the first two rounds as he so often does. Can the brash Irishman become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time, or will the proud Philadelphian slow down the hype train?
Prediction: Alvarez via submission
For additional information on UFC 205, visit ufc.com, and follow along live at theaquarian.com, where live, round-by-round updates will be posted.