UFC Announces MSG Title Fights, Includes STL’s Woodley

McGregor vs. Alvarez

In a surprising turn of events, the UFC announced late last night that none other than “The Notorious” Conor McGregor would be headlining the arguably the promotion’s biggest event at Madison Square Garden following a ban placed on MMA in 1997.

What’s the reason for the surprise? McGregor, the UFC’s 145-pound champion, hasn’t defended said Featherweight championship since his knockout of Jose Aldo in 13 seconds for it last December at UFC 194. He has gone 1-1 against Nate Diaz at 170 pounds since then and has more than expressed interest in becoming a simultaneous champion of two divisions.

After saying that McGregor MUST take on Aldo in his next fight or surrender the belt, UFC President Dana White has now told ESPN that if McGregor wins, a joint reign isn’t happening. He would be a double champion in name only.

“So this [Lightweight championship] fight’s coming up [against 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez] and he wants to try to gain both belts. He will give up one of the titles after that fight in New York.”

Cutting weight to 145 pounds has been noted as being difficult for the Irish moneymaker in the past.

Woodley vs. Thompson

Despite knocking out “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler in just 2:12 to win the UFC Welterweight, championship, Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley has received little love from UFC fans. That was on display today at the UFC 205 press conference. For Woodley, his first title defense against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is mostly about earning respect.

“I like being the underdog,” he told Dan Hiergesell of MMAMania.com “I think my last five or six fights I’ve been the underdog, and I’ve only lost one. In general, statistically showing, I do well as the underdog…But to answer your question, I think that his [Thompson] fight style has been frustrating for a lot of people.”

In his over three years with the UFC, Woodley has amassed just three defeats, with only one being a stoppage. Thompson has gone 8-1 in the UFC (13-1 overall) with his only loss being by decision. The champion, a Mizzou wrestling product, takes on a 20-0 kickboxer.

Both are finishers with Woodley being at a 69 percent finish rate and Thompson at 62 percent. Expect fireworks.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Regardless of the result of this Women’s Strawweight (115 pounds) championship fight, the title stays in Poland.

After a quiet entry into the UFC with a decision victory over Julina Lima as part of the prelim bouts on the UFC Fight Pass streaming service in 2014 (UFC on Fox: Brown vs. Lawler), Jedrzejczyk has risen to fame as the 115-pound Ronda Rousey. She is coming off a dramatically lopsided win against heated rival Claudia Gadelha over the course of 25 minutes, is 12-0 in MMA, and mostly known for her Muay Thai kickboxing and the 27-2 record she compiled in the sport.

Kowalkiewicz made headlines after getting the nod of cageside judges in a scrap with Rose Namajunas. Seven of her 10 wins have been from points. She has one strawweight title defense for a Polish organization to her credit.

Although she has fought in title fights before, they have never gone the full length of 25 minutes. This will likely be a battle of better cardio, sheer volume of punches, and scoring points.

Someone will lose for the very first time.

The Rest of the Card

  • Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson

  • Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens

  • Tim Kennedy vs. Rashad Evans

  • Miesha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington

  • Tim Boetsch vs. Rafael Natal

  • Jim Miller vs. Thiago Alves

  • Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad

  • Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian