UFC 205 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from McGregor vs. Alvarez at MSG
NEW YORK — There is a confluence of reasons that explain why UFC 205 is the biggest and best card in MMA history.
First, after a long and bruising legal battle, pro MMA earlier this year became legal in New York. New York was the 50th state to take this action. That made this event historic.
Second, as fans know, Madison Square Garden is a true cathedral of combat sports. This isn't just another belt notch. MSG has hosted Ali-Frazier, Joe Louis, Jake LaMotta and a million others in between.
Third, the most famous fighter on planet Earth attached his name to the project. That's a man by the name of Conor McGregor. Maybe you know him? He's the UFC featherweight champ, and in the main event of UFC 205, he made a bid to become the first fighter to ever hold two belts simultaneously.
In his way was Eddie Alvarez, the lightweight champ and native son from Philly. Alvarez also happened to be a compelling stylistic matchup for McGregor. This contest was no gimme.
Fourth, the entire card was stacked eight ways to Sunday. Three title fights on one card for only the second time in UFC history. In the co-main event, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson brought his kickboxing to Manhattan to challenge Tyron Woodley for his welterweight strap. In what you might call the co-co-main event, brilliant strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her title against fellow Pole Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Hopefully this confluence demonstrates the magnitude of this UFC 205 card. Records are very likely to be broken.
What did we just witness? Let's put it all in perspective. Cageside at the Garden, we took it all in from the ground level.
So what went down at MSG, in the main event and beyond? As always, the final stat lines only reveal so much. Here are the real winners and losers from UFC 205.
For the literal-minded among us, full card results appear on the final slide.
Winner: Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor made history Saturday at UFC 205. He is the first fighter to simultaneously hold two UFC title belts.
He did it like he does all of his business: efficiently and with his left hand, or whatever he has where normal people have a left hand.
After dropping Eddie Alvarez three times in the first round, McGregor finished the job in the second, turning a counter left into a four-punch combination that put out Alvarez's lights and shifted the ownership of the UFC lightweight title.
"I want to take this moment to apologize," McGregor told broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight, "to absolutely nobody."
And the crowd went wild. They were pretty much wild for McGregor the whole time. At times, the venerable Madison Square Garden sounded like it was going to implode from the noise and collapse into Penn Station.
It's classic McGregor in all phases. The tremendous left hand, the pressure that repeatedly pinned Alvarez to the fence, his impeccable timing and angle-taking, the grace, the unabashed brashness. We're watching an all-time great. If that wasn't cemented before, it is, indisputably, now.
Loser: Eddie Alvarez
After a performance as great as McGregor's, it's hard to assign a fighter like Eddie Alvarez the loser tag.
Still, outside of a couple of early leg kicks and a few late-first-round combinations, Alvarez wasn't able to mount any offense of any significance. He tried a few takedowns, but all were effortlessly stuffed by the challenger.
Also, after five (based on an informal count) knockdowns, it's clear Alvarez does not have a granite chin.
So, yes. Not only was Alvarez beaten; he was exposed. Then again, the person who did the exposing doesn't exactly have a perfectly replicable skill set.
Draw: Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson
It's a draw slide because—after some controversy—that's what these two reached after their electrifying five-round co-main event.
Tyron Woodley dominated the first round with his wrestling, then got away from it. That opened the door for Stephen Thompson, who found his striking range in the second.
Woodley tired a bit, but he also seemed more interested in a slugfest with Thompson, or using the clinch as a control method. And when those slugfests went Woodley's way, they were a sight to behold. Thompson's nose broke early and his face bled throughout. Woodley's right hand remains one of the most potent weapons in the UFC today.
Thompson displayed incredible toughness in fighting back through those shots, through getting dropped and through a nasty guillotine choke that turned his face beet red. Through it all, Thompson kept getting up and fighting back, sticking to his game plan, pushing Woodley repeatedly back against the cage, cutting off the champ's maneuverability.
The judges' scorecards were 47-47, 47-47 and 48-47. That, ladies and gentleman, is a majority draw. Inexplicably, though, announcer Bruce Buffer read the verdict as a split-decision win for Woodley. Not until Rogan and others got involved did they identify the mistake. Buffer got back on the mic and read the correct decision.
And to think New York was so close to pulling off its first pro MMA card with no controversy! Chalk it up to bad luck and growing pains—or maybe just a ring announcer having an off night? The world may never know.
In the meantime, Thompson told Rogan after the fight that "it is what it is. I want to do it again." That would be fine with me, as it was a terrific back-and-forth affair with an outstanding stylistic matchup.
Winner: Karolina Kowalkiewicz
It was a clear win for the champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She marked up her opponent from range and damaged her in the clinch with rapier-like elbows. And she earned the unanimous-decision win.
At the same time, it wasn't the same kind of bloody violence-fest so many fans have come to expect from the champ. That's due in large part to the toughness and skill of Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Kowalkiewicz landed the most significant offense of the fight when she rocked the champ with a right hand, then followed up with subsequent punches and knees.
She landed more rights down the stretch, causing a hematoma to grow to the side of Jedrzejczyk's eye. Furthermore, she didn't bow to the champ's standup.
Ultimately, her few bursts of offense weren't enough, but Kowalkiewicz still weathered the storm and probably emerged with plenty of new fans.
"I am very proud because I came and gave a good fight," she said to Rogan in the cage after the fight. "Maybe next time we can fight in Poland."
We'll see if she gets another shot at the champ, but at a minimum, she has secured herself as a name fighter in this division moving forward.
Winner: Miesha Tate
It may have been the worst fight of Miesha Tate's career.
In the pay-per-view opener, the teacher became the student as Raquel Pennington withstood Tate's squishy grappling game. It was a slow and grinding affair, and ultimately Pennington came out on top with a unanimous decision.
The loss was a mild surprise, but a far bigger surprise was in store for fans soon after.
Tate hung up her gloves after the loss, retiring in the Octagon to cap a wild year. She beat Holly Holm in March to capture the UFC women's bantamweight title, then lost the same title four months later to Amanda Nunes.
At age 30, Tate probably could have continued but decided the damage to her body had taken a toll and that enough was enough.
"I’m announcing my retirement, you guys," Tate told Rogan and the fans in the cage. "I love this sport forever, but it’s not my time anymore. It’s the future’s time."
Tate retires with a pro record of 18-7 and with titles in both the UFC and the defunct Strikeforce promotion. She's a pioneer of the sport and achieved a level of fame that will probably enable her to do more or less whatever she wants after fighting. Happy trails, Cupcake.
Loser: Preconceived Notions of Size
Jeremy Stephens is a lightweight fighting at featherweight. Frankie Edgar is a bantamweight fighting at featherweight. The math does itself.
Stephens was bigger, but Edgar was faster and ultimately even stronger. Edgar survived a massive jumping knee strike (and what looked to be an illegal follow-up knee when he was grounded) and came back to land big takedowns on the bigger man en route to a unanimous-decision win.
Not only did he land takedowns, but he landed them with pure muscle and will, just bullying Stephens to the ground. The MSG crowd, which hadn't forgotten about Stephens' verbal sparring match with Conor McGregor a little while back, was delighted by the New Jersey native's display of heart and guts.
Afterward, Edgar revealed in a statement to media members that he needed an epidural to fight through a torn MCL suffered in practice. If true, that brings Edgar's toughness to a whole new level.
All in all, just another great win for an often overlooked featherweight in an often overlooked featherweight division.
Winner: Yoel Romero
The terrifying Yoel Romero has staked his claim to a middleweight title shot, and everyone—champion Michael Bisping included—should find a safe place to duck and cover.
Chris Weidman was probably winning on judges' scorecards when a massive flying knee from the massive Romero put him down and out early in the third round.
A few follow-up punches ensued but probably weren't necessary.
The Cuban Romero is an Olympic wrestler, although Weidman probably had a wrestling edge in the contest. No matter. The flying knee wiped out that little detail as surely as it wiped out Weidman.
Forget those concerns about his gas tank, too. Romero now has finished the fight in the third round or gone the distance in all but one of his eight UFC contests.
Afterward, Romero challenged Bisping to a title shot, saying to Rogan, "Now you see the real champion." I believe I would watch that bout.
Winner: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov is a great in the UFC lightweight division.
He could end his career right now, with no belt or anything like that, and still be at the top of the list. Fighting for only the second time in two years, Nurmagomedov showed no signs of ring rust in fully manhandling a solid veteran in Michael Johnson.
Johnson made a few tactical and technical errors that helped swing the bout for the Dagestani early on. He connected with a few early punches but got a bit wild and was unable to stay balanced when Nurmagomedov went in for the inevitable takedown.
Then, Johnson attempted to defend himself with a guillotine choke following another takedown. Nothing doing. All the easier for Nurmagomedov to chain together a buttery smooth sequence of grappling and ground-and-pound.
The fight probably could have been stopped at the end of either the first or second round, as the will to live slowly seeped out of Johnson. It eventually stopped in the third when Johnson was submitted by a kimura.
Afterward, Nurmagomedov called for a shot at the lightweight championship. With all due respect to Tony Ferguson, this kind of performance makes it hard to say no.
Of course, we'll see what the champ and the UFC have to say.
Loser: Kelvin Gastelum
Who wouldn't want to be a part of this kind of card?
Apparently, the answer is Kelvin Gastelum.
That's probably not literally true. It sure feels that way, though, after Gastelum missed the 171-pound upper cutoff for welterweights by 10 pounds. He never officially weighed in. And his bout with Donald Cerrone was removed from the card.
Tellingly, Cerrone was quickly rebooked to face Matt Brown at UFC 206. Guess who was not quickly rebooked. If you guessed "Kelvin Gastelum," you are correct.
This was Gastelum's third time missing weight, and not his first time missing it by a lot or in a high-profile situation. Maybe that's why UFC President Dana White indicated Gastelum will no longer fight at welterweight.
"He's done nothing to prove he can make 170 pounds," White told Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting. "And when he does make 170 pounds, a) it's dangerous, and b) it screws a lot of things up around here."
That's not a glowing endorsement. Nevertheless, White has made a similar claim toward Gastelum before, pledging in 2015 to send Gastelum to middleweight. Gastelum stayed there for one bout before returning to 170 pounds.
Is White more serious this time? We'll see. For his part, Gastelum took to Twitter to apologize.
"We all have bad days but I promise it will not happen again," Gastelum tweeted. "I will come back stronger like I have before."
That's fine, but at this point a social media walk of shame might not be enough to cover the damages or convince anyone that welterweight is where Gastelum belongs.
Winner: The UFC
It's important in life to give credit where it's due.
At a news conference Thursday, Dana White said, "For the first time in Madison Square Garden, I just wanted to hit it out of the park."
Clearly, the UFC is not a one-man show. Give credit to the many staff members who crafted slick promos and pre-fight hype-centric content like a fantastic series of UFC Embedded video blog posts.
Lastly, credit the fans who traveled from all corners to attend the event and pay, at a minimum, $771 per ticket. That's the kind of buying frenzy that led White to proclaim UFC 205 had already broken the company's live gate record. There's a good chance it will break the pay-per-view record as well, itself only a couple of months old thanks to McGregor and UFC 202, which raked in 1.65 million buys.
Oh, and the fights were pretty good.
Yes, I think this is what you call a home run.
UFC 205 Full Card Results
Conor McGregor def. Eddie Alvarez by KO, 3:04, Rd. 2 (for UFC lightweight championship)
Stephen Thompson vs. Tyron Woodley ruled majority draw (47-47, 47-47, 48-47) (Woodley retains UFC welterweight championship)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (retains UFC strawweight championship)
Yoel Romero def. Chris Weidman by TKO, 0:24, Rd. 3
Raquel Pennington def. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision
Frankie Edgar def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Michael Johnson by submission (kimura), 2:31, Rd. 3
Tim Boetsch def. Rafael Natal by TKO, 3:22, Rd. 1
Vicente Luque def. Belal Muhammad by KO, 1:19, Rd. 1
Jim Miller def. Thiago Alves by unanimous decision
Liz Carmouche def. Katlyn Chookagian by split decision
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.