Conor McGregor takes on Eddie Alvarez in the inaugural UFC card in New York in November.
The bout headlines the historic UFC 205, the promotion’s first card in the Empire State, on November 12.
The stacked Madison Square Garden event boasts two additional championship bouts—welterweight titlist Tyron Woodley defends against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson and Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts her women’s strawweight strap on the line against fellow Pole Karolina Kowalkiewicz—as well as Long Islander Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero, Garden State native Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens, and New York-born Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy.
For many of the fighters, the card represents the realization of hopes repeatedly dashed by politicians.
“It would be an absolute dream come true,” Weidman told Breitbart Sports about fighting in Madison Square Garden two years back. “I’m working really hard fighting all around the world. [Mixed-martial arts] is legal pretty much everywhere else in the world. That it’s not in my home state is disheartening. Fighting in Madison Square Garden, or in the Nassau Coliseum, would definitely be a dream come true.”
The company worked for years to receive recognition by the state. But New York remained the last holdout among the fifty states to give its imprimatur to professional mixed-martial arts (MMA) bouts. A union grudge in Nevada against the previous owners of the UFC carried over into New York to effectively ban MMA. The arrest and conviction of Sheldon Silver, the longtime assembly speaker, on federal corruption charges opened up the blockage of the bill in Albany. It passed in April and went into effect earlier this month.
The Philadelphian defends the lightweight belt in his first title defense after upsetting Rafael dos Anjos. The Dubliner, who won the featherweight belt in a seven-second knockout of Jose Aldo in December, takes his third fight outside the division since winning the strap. He remains the 145-pound champ despite not defending the title. The 28-4 Alvarez boasts wins over Gilbert Melendez, Michael Chandler, Anthony Pettis, and dos Anjos. The 20-3 McGregor holds notable victories over Nate Diaz, Chad Mendes, Max Holloway, and Aldo.
McGregor brings elite, unorthodox striking and knockout power in his left hand to the lightweight division. Alvarez boasts excellent dirty boxing and possesses solid wrestling. Breitbart Sports watched cageside in January as Alvarez neutralized a smaller, quicker, favored fighter, Anthony Pettis, in Boston by using strength, a clinch game, and wrestling to grind Pettis and grab the win. One imagines him using the same strategy against the smaller, quicker, favored McGregor. The Irishman figures to rely on his superior athleticism, reach, and striking.
McGregor becomes the first man to simultaneously wear two belts in UFC history should he win. B.J. Penn and Randy Couture rank as the only two fighters to ever win titles in two divisions in the promotion’s 23-year history. Already, King Conor reigns as MMA’s pay-per-view champion, selling over four million subscriptions to his fights in the U.S. alone over the last year. Now he wants a new crown.
“The goal at the end of the day is world titles,” McGregor audaciously told Breitbart Sports last year before he owned a single UFC belt. “Like I said, I came into this promotion as a two-weight world champion. I vacated those belts when I signed with the UFC. I am in the process of regaining them.”