Saturday night, the UFC has its biggest show in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, and the long awaited show doesn’t look like it will disappoint. Three title fights, a stacked card from top to bottom, and some of the biggest names in MMA all under one roof in one of the most famous arenas in America. Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her strawweight title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Tyron Woodley puts his belt on the line against Stephen Thompson, and Conor McGregor looks to take the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez and become a two-division champion. UFC 205 is definitely the show of the year and here are Pinche’s Picks of the year to go with it.
135lb -185 Miesha Tate (18-6) over +150 Raquel Pennington (8-6)
You might not be able to tell from looking at her record, but Pennington is 4-1 in her last 5 fights, and is riding a 3-fight winning streak heading into her fight with Tate. She is coming off of two decision victories over Bethe Correia and Elizabeth Phillips this year, but Tate puts an end to the streak Saturday night. Miesha Tate is overall a better fighter. Tate is coming off of a loss to Amanda Nunes where she lost her bantamweight title. Tate had a tough weight cut for her last fight, and it showed on fight night. Miesha Tate gets back into the win column on Saturday with a decision victory over Pennington.
170lb -160 Donald Cerrone (31-7) over +130 Kelvin Gastelum (13-2)
Although Gastelum has had issues with making weight in the past, he has put together some impressive wins in the welterweight division. Gastelum is coming off of a decision win over former welterweight champ Johnny Hendricks back in July. Now, he will test himself against a fast rising welterweight. Cerrone has been on a 3-fight win streak since jumping up to the welterweight division, finishing all 3 of those fights. Cerrone has been tearing up the welterweight division and Gastelum won’t slow him down. He will land his usual kicks from a distance and wear Gastelum down throughout the fight. Once Gastelum gets tired he will try to take the fight to the ground which is where Cerrone will land a submission and get the win.
185lb +150 Yoel Romero (11-1) over -185 Chris Weidman (13-1)
This is a huge fight for both fighters with a title shot expected for the winner. Weidman is looking to bounce back after suffering his first loss to Luke Rockhold in December of last year. He is coming off of a neck surgery which kept the fighter sidelined for most of 2016. Romero, himself, is coming off a bit of a layoff as well. The fighter was suspended after he defeated Jacare Souza in December of 2015 for testing positive for a banned substance. Romero claimed he was innocent and after months of waiting, USADA decided Romero unknowingly took a tainted substance and his suspension was lifted. Before the suspension, Romero was on a 7-fight winning streak; Romero will extend his streak Saturday night. Romero’s power will be too much for Weidman, he finishes the fight in the 2nd round. Romero gets the upset Saturday night.
115lb Title Fight -400 Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) over +300 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0)
This fight will be one of the best fights to ever take place in the 115lb division. Both fighters coming in undefeated, both known for their striking, and JJ has a win over Karolina when they were amateurs. This fight is definitely a step up for Karolina, who hold wins over Randa Markos, Heather Clark, and Rose Namajunas; for Jedrzejczyk it will be another day at the office. She’s gone 5 rounds, she’s been on big shows, Saturday night will be her night to shine. JJ will outscore Karolina and retain her title with a decision win.
170lb Title Fight -200 Stephen Thompson (13-1) over +160 Tyron Woodley (16-3)
There is a difference in fight styles between these two, Thompson comes from a Karate background, while Woodley is a former University of Missouri two-time NCAA All-American wrestler. Woodley is coming off of a shocking first round knockout over former champ, Robbie Lawler, back in July. He is on a 3-fight winning streak heading into this fight, but the difference of styles will not work in Woodley’s favor. Thompson will keep his distance and land his kicks and jabs from the outside. Woodley always has a chance to catch Thompson with a big punch on his way in, but the longer the fight goes the better Thompson will get. Leg kicks and body shots will slow Woodley down in the later rounds, Thompson takes the belt by decision.
155lb Title Fight -150 Conor McGregor (20-3) over +120 Eddie Alvarez (28-4)
Eddie Alvarez is 3-1 in the UFC since vacating his lightweight title in Bellator, and is looking to spoil Mcgregor’s plans of holding two titles in two different weight classes; It won’t be easy. McGregor is the toughest fight Alvarez has had since Donald Cerrone, which he lost. He had an easy path to his title, he beat a Gilbert Melendez who is 1-4 in the UFC, Anthony Pettis who he caught in the middle of a 3-fight losing streak, and Rafael Dos Anjos who just suffered his second loss in a row. McGregor is probably the most determined fighter in the UFC right now. When he says he’s going to take that belt, I believe him. I think this fight will be easier for McGregor than his last fight with Diaz. For the first time in his career, McGregor had to worry about reach when he faced Diaz. With Alvarez, he has a 5-inch reach advantage, and it will show. He will look more like the Conor McGregor that defeated Chad Mendes; it won’t be easy to finish Alvarez, especially the longer the fight goes. McGregor can go the distance, but slows down around the 3rd round. McGregor will hurt Alvarez early and get the highlight knockout. McGregor wins the belt then vacates his featherweight title.
145lb -335 Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) over +255 Jeremy Stephens (25-12)
155lb -285 Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) over +225 Michael Johnson (18-10)
185lb -160 Rafael Natal (21-7-1) over +130 Tim Boetsch (19-10)
170lb -145 Belal Muhammad (10-1) over +125 Vincente Luque (10-5-1)
155lb +135 Jim Miller (27-8) over -165 Thiago Alves (26-10)
135lb -185 Katkyn Chookagian (8-0) over +150 Liz Carmouche (9-5)