UFC 205 is just a few days away as the company prepares to make history. It will be their first show at Madison Square Garden in New York and it’s expected to be quite the spectacle. Of course, the centerpiece of the evening will be superstar Conor McGregor, who is set to make his return after avenging his unexpected loss to Nate Diaz.
McGregor (-150) will headline the card in a champion-vs-champion affair as he’ll move up in weight to take on lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. McGregor, of course, recently went up to welterweight to split a pair of fights with Nate Diaz. Meanwhile, Alvarez took the lightweight belt from Rafael dos Anjos, who had an earlier fight with McGregor cancelled because of injury. This should be a striking exhibition, although Alvarez has a big advantage on the mat if it goes there. Expect Alvarez (+120) to try and bring this fight to the ground.
Next is the welterweight belt on the line as Tyron Woodley defends against Stephen Thompson. Woodley (+160) makes his first title defense after a knockout win over Robbie Lawler. Thompson (-200) has been lighting up the 170-pound division with his kickboxing, scoring four TKO/KO wins in his last six fights. Woodley should try to use his wrestling background on Thompson, who has a massive edge in striking.
Women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-400) puts her title on the line against Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+300) in a Polish grudge match (both were born in Poland). This is a rematch as Jedrzejczyk submitted Kowalkiewicz in an amateur bout in 2012. Both have backgrounds in kickboxing and Muay Thai, so it should be a standup battle.
Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman makes his return to the octagon after losing the belt to Luke Rockhold (who has since lost it to Michael Bisping) last December. Weidman (-185), who was born in and fights out of Baldwin, New York, takes on Yoel Romero (+150), who has won seven fights in a row. He might be the most physically imposing middleweight in the division. The winner of this fight will be near the top of the list to face Bisping – especially as Rockhold’s upcoming match with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was cancelled because of injury.
At welterweight, Kelvin Gastelum (+130) will take on Donald Cerrone (-160). Gastelum has bounced between welterweight and middleweight for a couple years now. Cerrone has made a successful transition from lightweight to welterweight, but Gastelum is probably his toughest challenge to date at 170 pounds. Of course, this is Cerrone’s fourth fight of the year, keeping in line with his status as one of the busiest fighters in the UFC.
Finally, former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (-185) will face Raquel Pennington (+150) to open the main card. Tate won the belt from Holly Holm, then promptly lost it to Amanda Nunes. Pennington has quietly won three fights in a row in the bantamweight division. A win over Tate would vault her up the rankings. That could prove important as the winner of this bout might be in line to face the winner of the Nunes-Ronda Rousey fight later in the year. Nunes will try to defend the title against Rousey, the former champion, at UFC 207, which will be the company’s final card of the year.