Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC
November 12th. 2016, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor makes Octagon history. The then reigning featherweight champion made the move a division higher in a quest to become a multiple-weight champion held simultaneously as many before him have tried. Headlining the promotion’s first ever card in the state of New York City, McGregor clashes with incumbent 155-pound best, Eddie ‘The Underground King’ Alvarez.
Over two rounds, Crumlin born McGregor systematically batters Philidelphia native Alvarez to claim his second undisputed title under the UFC banner, and become the first mixed-martial-artist in company antiquity to lift two world titles at the same time. The performance McGregor lodged that night was breathtaking. It was a culmination of expert counter-striking, timing, movement and collectedness that seen the Straight Blast Gym trainee score four knockdowns inside just seven minutes. Simply put, I don’t believe we’ve witnessed a better outing for the Dubliner than that famous night at Madison Square Garden. The victory over the storied Alvarez, catapulted McGregor into a highly lucrative, cross-promotion boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. the following August.
Rounding off a three title-fight card, Alvarez vs. McGregor was backed by a welterweight showcase between then champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, while former strawweight best Joanna Jędrzejczyk defended her 115-pound title against compatriot, Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
In a brilliantly competitive showing between the two, Woodley and ‘Wonderboy’ battled to a majority draw over five rounds, as Missouri native Woodley successfully retained his title. At UFC 209 at the beginning of 2017, Woodley once more kept hold of the gold, this time via a split decision win over Thompson in the subsequent rematch. Also at her sparkling best that night, was Joanna Jędrzejczyk. The Pole point-fighting master exacted a sharp Muay Thai display against Kowalkiewicz as she managed a fourth successful title defense.
Before our triple-threat of title matchups, future three time title tilter, Yoel Romero launched his championship aspirations with a brutal third round flying-knee victory over former middleweight kingpin, Chris Weidman. Romero flew at Weidman as the latter attempted an early takedown, before famously scaling the Octagon fence and ‘frog’ marching around the perimeter. During his post-fight interview, then middleweight champion Michael Bisping, on desk duty with FOX Sports 1 was the target for an infamous call out by Romero. The Cuban also coined his now iconic, “I luh ju, see you soon, boi.” catchphrase that night.
In the main card opener, future bantamweight title chaser, ‘Rocky’ Raquel Pennington picked up a unanimous decision triumph over former division best, Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate. After the bout in her post-fight interview with UFC colour-commentator Joe Rogan, Tate announced her retirement from mixed-martial-arts competition with immediate effect. Tate has since assumed a major role with Asia based promotion, ONE Championship.
In our featured Fox Sports 1 preliminary bout, former lightweight champion, Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar rebounded from his second loss to Jose Aldo, with a unanimous decision display over the heavy-hitting, Jeremy ‘Lil’ Heathen’ Stephens. In more lightweight action, future lightweight best, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov buried deep in the prelims, dominated Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson before slapping on a third round kimura.
After the bout, Khabib called for a meeting with Conor McGregor, a bout which would finally materialize two years later. Veteran middleweight challenger Tim Boetsch managed a knockout victory over Brazil native Rafael Natal next, while in our preliminary opener, recent welterweight riser, Vicente Luque finished Belal Muhammad with strikes inside the opening two minutes.
In the featured UFC Fight Pass preliminary meeting, veteran lightweight mainstay Jim Miller picked up a unanimous decision victory over former welterweight championship challenger, Thiago ‘Pitbull’ Alves. In the event opener, former bantamweight and flyweight title hopeful Liz Carmouche handed now perennial 125-pound contender Katlyn Chookagian first career blemish.