CONOR McGregor looks to make history on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) when the featherweight king guns for the lightweight belt of Eddie Alvarez to become the first fighter to hold two championships simultaneously in the UFC’s monumental debut at New York’s historic Madison Square Garden.
The world’s premier mixed martial arts organization holds its inaugural event in the home of some of the greatest moments in the world of sports. And the UFC is not holding back, presenting its biggest card to date with UFC 205 headlined by a champion vs champion match, along with two other title fights and exciting matchups featuring MMA’s biggest stars.
The stacked UFC 205 card promises to be one for the history books, which is only fitting as the UFC looks to add memorable MMA moments to the many career defining performances in sports made in The Garden.
A Fine Performance
In June 1994, basketball hall of famer Patrick Ewing put on one of the best individual performances ever to be seen in The Garden. Playing against the rival Indiana Pacers in a pivotal Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Ewing sealed his team’s victory with a resounding slam dunk in the final seconds of the game. He finished with 24 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks to lead the New York Knicks to the NBA Finals.
Brash Irish superstar McGregor looks to put on the single best performance of his career as well when he challenges UFC lightweight champion Alvarez. Since debuting in 2013, McGregor has been on an incredible meteoric rise that saw him become the undisputed UFC featherweight champion in 2015. He bounced back from a setback to Nate Diaz and showed no signs of slowing down in his quest to put his name in the history books.
Heard Around the World
From John Stark’s defining dunk over Michael Jordan in the 1996 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Larry Johnson’s unbelievable four-point winning play three years later, Stephane Matteau’s shot at double OT to send the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994 or Brad Richards’ game-tying goal in the NHL semifinals between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals eight years later, The Garden has seen its fair share of historic shots that made waves in the sports world.
When UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley takes on challenger Stephen Thompson, fight fans should be ready for some fireworks. With both fighters’ elite striking skills, Woodley and Thompson have proven on occasion to have the ability to end any fight with just one shot that will definitely be heard around the world.
There Can Only Be One
Madison Square Garden hosted the very first meeting between boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in what was dubbed as the ‘Fight of the Century.’ In a brawl for the ages, it was Frazier who came out the victor over Ali at the end of 15 rounds via unanimous decision.
The Garden will also play host to a similar match-up when UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her belt against fellow compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Both Jedrzejczyk and Kowalkiewicz have placed a lot on the line for their upcoming battle, including their undefeated records. It is also the perfect opportunity for both to cement their legacy as Poland’s best female fighter and as the undisputed champion of the world.
Perhaps the most memorable moment in the 1970 NBA Finals was when New York Knicks captain Willis Reed made a surprising return to the starting lineup after missing the previous game with a thigh injury. Taking on the Los Angeles Lakers, Reed stepped up when his team needed him most – sinking the first two shots of the game and providing an undeniable spark to lead the Knicks to their first NBA championship.
On November 12, New York native and former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman will also be making his return to the Octagon. After nearly a year-long absence following an injury, Weidman will get to do it in front of his friends and family in Madison Square Garden. A key figure in pushing the legalization of MMA in the state of New York, it is the perfect scene for Weidman’s return as he looks to earn a decisive victory, make another run towards reclaiming his belt and bringing back another championship to the Big Apple.