UFC 205 marked the organization’s long-awaited, highly-anticipated debut in New York City. The event, which took place at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening, featured a trio of title fights, as well as several former champions, top contenders, and former headliners.
Check out recaps of the final four non-title fights below.
Yoel Romero def. Chris Weidman via third-round TKO (flying knee and punches)
Yoel Romero started out slow in his UFC 205 main card fight against Chris Weidman. Weidman used a higher volume of kicks and punches, as well as a couple takedown attempts — some successful, some not — to narrowly take the first round.
Weidman found more success on the feet in the second round, but Romero landed a takedown in the second half and was on the former middleweight champion’s back for the majority of the final two minutes.
The pace picked up early in the third round. 24 seconds into the final five minutes, “The Solider of God” landed a vicious flying knee on Weidman’s head that severely hurt “The All-American,” and followed up with devastating ground-and-pound until the referee stepped in. It’s safe to say that that sequence was the highlight of the 185-pound bout.
Romero most likely earned himself a crack at middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping, who Romero was literally talking to during his post-fight interview (“The Count” was in attendance for FOX Sports duties). Although the top of the 185-pound division is stacked, Romero has done everything he should have to do to receive a title shot.
Weidman is now on a two-fight skid. It’s back to the drawing board for the New York native, who lost the championship last year to Luke Rockhold. He will need at least one or two victories to get back into title discussions at 185 pounds.
Raquel Pennington def. Miesha Tate via unanimous decision
Raquel Pennington picked up the biggest win of her career in the opening fight of the UFC 205 pay-per-view main card. She took on former champion Miesha Tate, her coach on The Ultimate Fighter 18, as a sizable underdog, but got the job done over three rounds. She lit “Cupcake” up on the feet, where she had a significant advantage, and didn’t allow Tate to grind her out with wrestling. Tate clinched “Rocky” often in the three-round outing, but was unable to do much damage in the dominant position. Instead, Pennington actually was the one who found success in the clinch with short shots. She also did well in top position — Tate’s bread and butter. After 15 minutes, Pennington, a new top contender in the women’s bantamweight division, was rewarded with the clear decision win, prompting Tate to suddenly announce her retirement out of nowhere.
The highlight of the fight came in the first round, when Pennington got her in a standing guillotine. It was a solid attempt, but Tate was able to escape in crazy fashion; she pulled a Diego Sanchez by literally leaping off the fence to escape the submission hold.
With Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena likely ahead of her and Ronda Rousey booked to challenge champ Amanda Nunes, Pennington will need at least one more win to receive a crack at the championship. But she’s the closest to the title she’s ever been.
Frankie Edgar def. Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision
Atop the four-fight televised preliminary card was a pivotal featherweight matchup between former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens. Edgar picked up yet another victory as the smaller, less strong and less powerful fighter. But it wasn’t easy.
Edgar looked good in the first round. He took Stephens down once in the first five minutes momentarily, but “Lil Heathen” got up very quickly, and Edgar was unable to do anything with the position. Known for his movement and high volume, Edgar used angles to outpoint Stephens on the feet.
But the second round was another story. Edgar scored a pair of takedowns — including a huge slam — but Stephens, back on the feet, landed a bomb, badly hurting Edgar. “The Answer” showed off his toughness and heart, however, and survived. At the end of the second round, Edgar got in his own near-finish; he locked Stephens up in a submission, almost forcing the tap.
Edgar smothered Stephens in the first half of the third round, dominating from top position. The round finished on the feet, with relatively even action, and Edgar was given the judges’ nod.
The highlight of the fight, which was a stunning, back-and-forth scrap, was absolutely the second round finish attempts from both fighters. Edgar and Stephens both came close to finishing each other at different points of the round, making the second round a round to remember.
Edgar is back in the title picture at 145 pounds. Where he goes from here depends on interim champ Jose Aldo’s next move. Aldo is in a lull with the organization right now, and it’s not too clear when/if he plans to return. Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis is happening next month, also, and that fight could determine the next title challenger. Edgar’s future somewhat depends on what happens with Aldo and that matchup, if the ex-UFC champ plans to stay at featherweight. He’s talked about dropping down to the bantamweight division, however, so perhaps he’ll try to go on a title run at 135 pounds if there isn’t a clear option for him at featherweight.
Stephens is still dangerous and a threat against anybody at featherweight. But he’s lost two of his last three, so he’ll need at least one win before getting another high-profile matchup.
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Michael Johnson via third-round submission (kimura)
In the middle of the UFC 205 preliminary card, top lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov dominated Michael Johnson, submitting him in the third round. “The Menace” made it very interesting early in the first round — he used angles to pick apart Nurmagomedov for the first half of the round and even stunned the Russian with a few powerful straight punches. But once “The Eagle” got Johnson down to the ground, it was all over. Nurmagomedov used his expert grappling skills to destroy the Blackzilians product on the mat, and eventually sunk in a third-round kimura.
But the highlight of the fight was Nurmagomedov’s post-fight interview, in which he went full heel in front of the New York City crowd, which was largely dominated by Irish fans. He called Conor McGregor a “chicken,” and cut an unbelievable promo in attempt to finally earn himself a lightweight title shot.
Nurmagomedov, no doubt, deserves a title shot — in 24 professional bouts, he’s undefeated, and holds a handful of massive wins, including a 2014 win over Rafael dos Anjos and now a submission over Johnson. But whether or not he’ll get it is another story; Tony Ferguson is right there in the title mix with him, and could easily pass Nurmagomedov for the next crack at the belt.
It’s back to the drawing board for Johnson, who has lost three of his last four. Johnson snapped a two-fight skid in September by knocking out the highly-touted Dustin Poirier, but, now back in the loss column, Johnson is quite a number of wins away from getting back into the title picture.