The freight train that is the UFC rolls into NYC, Sat Nov 12th with arguably their best card to date.
This night at NYC has been a long time in the making, with the lawmakers in New York approving MMA events to take place there in March of this year. Thus making NYC the 50th & final state legalizing & regulating the sport, this is seen as another milestone in their march to the mainstream, something new owners WME-IMG (who recently purchased the franchise for $4Billion) will be more than pleased with.
Although the prelim fight card in any other circumstance would be gratefully received by fans as the main card, the focus is understandably on the ridiculously stacked main card. This sees 7 fights, leading to three huge title fights with belts within three respective divisions on the line.
All of Poland will be tuning in when the woman’s Strawweight title is on the line between champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk & Karolina Kowalkiewicz. This has the making of an all-out war & the fact that this fight sits comfortably on the bill shows, rightfully, the regard in which the woman’s game is held currently.
This is also reflected by the fact that a further women’s fight (Miesha Tate vsRaquel Pennington) is on the main card. Tyrone Woodley vs Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is possibly the most difficult fight to predict. The Welterweight belt will be on the line here as two of the most exciting fighters in the UFC step into the Octagon together.
Wonderboy having a style that has rarely been seen in the UFC with an almost karate side-on stance and an ability to switch up distance with fakes & hip movement up against the champion with devastating one-punch KO power (see his victory vs Robbie Lawler to win the belt), is an expert in closing the distance better than most and has a sterling wrestling background & pedigree.Undeniably Conor McGregor being added takes the bill up a notch. Love him or loathe him, he is the biggest draw in the sport and has almost unheralded cross-over appeal. His task here is a tough one, facing Lightweight champion & UFC veteran, Eddie Alvarez, with the prize for McGregor to become the first fighter to hold two belts for two weights simultaneously.
For a number of McGregor fans, this will be seen as easy work further to McGregor’s revenge victory against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 but Alvarez will be no pushover. Having secured the belt knocking out another season pro in Rafael dos Anjos (a fight in which Alvarez was a 3/1 outsider to win), he will revel with an underdog tag again here.
Having both a striking game & ground technique which could cause any Lightweight problems, this is a more than intriguing match-up. McGregor’s voice finding a platform again during the official UFC 205 press conference (having had an almost publicity free build up to his return fight vs Nate Diaz earlier in the year) has sold the fight significantly more than any marketing campaign the UFC has rolled out (assume someone from the marketing department is within those recently let go by the new owners…”Can NotWait”…really?).
The main card also sees New York’s own Chris Weidman in a great match-up against avoided Yoel Romero; fans favourite Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in a Welterweight clash with Kelvin Gastelum alongside the aforementioned return of Miesha Tate vs Raquel Pennington. It would be brave to try and predict who will take the coveted ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus!
Before the end of 2016, the Light Heavyweight title headliner between champion, Daniel Cormier& Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, currently let down by a less than average card in Toronto at UFC 206(which has a gaping George Saint Pierre hole in it) & the franchise’s jewel in the crown, RondaRousey’s, return vs the women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes alongside the highlyanticipated co-main between Bantamweight title holder Dominick Cruz & Cody Garbrandt at207…UFC’s huge year for this particular freight train shows no sign of slowing.