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UFC 205 Bumper Preview Pt. 2: McGregor, Thompson & Jedrzejczyk To Claim Glory

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (L) and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor of Ireland square up for a photo during the UFC 205 press conference at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

In a couple of days Madison Square Garden will play host to the biggest event in MMA’s short history. UFC 205 is set to be the best card of all time and from the early prelims to the main event the card is stacked.

In part oneI previewed the first three fights on the main card. Now we get to the business end. Three title fights, four champions and history to be made.

Let’s get to business.


Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Joanna Jedrezejczyk (12-0-0) won six world titles, four European titles and 70 fights in Mauy Thai before transitioning to MMA. So yeah, she’s a striker, and she throws everything at her opponent.  This fight is her fourth defence since winning the title and making mince meat of Carla Esparza at UFC 185.

In her second defence she set a new record for significant strikes landed in a championship fight at 220. She also set the new record of leg kicks landed at 70. In July she defended her title against Cláudia Gadelha. After a back and forth fight JJ beat Gadelha, for a second time, to set up her scrap with fellow Polish fighter Kowalkiewicz.

Kowalkiewicz (10-0-0) turned professional in 2012 and won the flyweight title in the Polish organisation KWS. She eventually made her way to America, and the UFC, where she has won three straight fights to continue her unbeaten streak. A Mauy Thai fighter, she won two unanimous decisions against Randa Markos and Heather Jo Clark before stepping up against contender “Thug” Rose Namajunas. A controversial split decision later and she’s dining at the top table with the best in the world.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: UFC president seperates Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz as they face off during the UFC 205 press conference at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The strawweight division is still in its infancy but JJ has brought stability and personality to the fledgling division. She’s also brought phenomenal striking and excellent scramble defence. Her take down defence is solid, her ground game was good enough to shake off Gadelha and she’s tough.

While you could draw comparisons between the two, JJ is simply the more gifted fighter technically. Her previous win against Kowalkiewicz is irrelevant here too. A submission win in a one-round amateur fight four years ago has no bearing on this. Championship level experience and violence does. Kowalkiewicz has never seen a fourth round and she won’t here.

Prediction: Jedrzejczyk via TKO, round 2.


Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley v Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson

Tyron Woodley (16-3-0) surprised most people when he defeated welterweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 via a first round KO. Woodley spent a year and half out after beating Kevin Gastelum. He devoted that time to making all kinds of noise for a title shot. A risky move that paid off big time.

His wins are pretty evenly split between KO/TKO (6), submissions (5) and decisions (5) so he’s dangerous everywhere. The champion has an excellent wrestling background but only resorts to it when knocking people out doesn’t work. This will be his first title defence against the super talented kickboxer, Thompson.

“Wonderboy” (13-1-0) is currently riding a seven-fight win streak, four of which have come by TKO or KO. His sole professional loss came against Matt Brown in 2012 and since then Thompson has defeated former champion Johny Hendricks and sent Rory MacDonald to Bellator. His kickboxing credentials  are quite something, including numerous titles and a perfect 20 professional fights, 20 wins. If you’d like to get a feel for what this man can do with kicks take a look at his spinning hook kick knockout of Jake Ellenberger.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson square up for a photo during the UFC 205 press conference at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

This fight could easily end up as Fight of the Night. It’s an incredibly difficult one to call as both fighters have knock out power, plenty of experience and are explosive. Woodley will likely start patient, keeping out of range of Thompson’s unorthodox striking style. Once he gets the range he’ll start rushing in, closing the distance and trying to push Thompson against the cage before retreating again.

Leg kicks will also be key to disrupting Thompson’s rhythm. The 33-year-old has no doubt prepared for this and if he gets his range right early he could end the fight from anywhere on the feet. He also has to avoid any Woodley takedowns as “The Chosen One” likely has the edge on the ground.

Thankfully for Thompson, Woodley rarely shoots for takedowns and “Wonderboy” has decent takedown defence. This fight will likely play out on the feet and if Woodley doesn’t get Thompson’s back to the cage his title reign is going to be a short one. The South Carolina native is a more creative striker and he’s incredible busy, which judges tend to enjoy. Sorry Woodley but your reign is over, we’ll keep an eye out for you in the next Spiderman movie.

Prediction: Thompson, via decision.


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Eddie Alvarez vs “The Notorious” Conor McGregor

“The Underground King” is apparently not Eddie Alvarez’s (28-4-0) official nickname but it really should be. He is the top lightweight in the world, former two-time Bellator lightweight champion, current UFC lightweight champion and is still underrated. His two title fights against Michael Chandler are the stuff of legend and the only loss of his UFC career came against Donald Cerrone after a year on the sidelines.

He beat former champions Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis before a first round TKO victory over Rafael dos Anjos to take the belt. There’s no easy fights in the stacked lightweight division and Alvarez is one of the toughest in the bunch.

Conor McGregor (20-3-0) is the biggest name in combat sports. He does what he wants with a swagger and an intelligence that infuriates his detractors and delights his often rabid fans. His recent ventures to welterweight were engrossing, if pointless, and his 15-fight win streak to the UFC featherweight title was always entertaining. His knockout victory over Jose Aldo was nothing short of phenomenal.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 12: Conor McGregor (R) waits for the official announcement of his victory after a first-round knockout over Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Now he aims to add the lightweight belt to his featherweight crown to become the first person in the UFC to be champion in two divisions simultaneously. Hell for contenders in both weight classes and match makers but history for McGregor and the UFC.

Eddie Alvarez is undoubtedly the toughest test of McGregor’s career. He’s incredibly tough, has heavy hands and is good on the ground. People question McGregor’s gas tank, but nobody doubts Alvarez’s. When he’s not swarming you with punches, he’s trying to take you down. And he’ll do that for five rounds. He’s knocked out 15 opponents and submitted seven more. He closes the distance quickly and once he hurts someone he ups the pressure. He enjoys a brawl and that leaves openings McGregor can exploit.

McGregor’s lack of wrestling credentials is often his detractors’ biggest criticism of him, other than his ever open mouth. He more than makes up for it with his boxing, particularly his left hand. His punching precision is key in brawls with Alvarez and his takedown defence, which has been good, is also vital. Expect “The Notorious” one to strike from range using his five-inch reach advantage and heavy kicks from every angle. If he can control the octagon, like he has done so well in his featherweight fights, he could put Alvarez away before the final bell.

McGregor should win this fight. This should be his best weight class, not cutting huge amounts of weight and not bloated from a diet of steaks and rage. You can expect his stamina to be far better. The loss to Diaz stung him but McGregor’s manic confidence has returned.

A little more cautious perhaps but that won’t be a bad thing against a warrior like Alvarez. The power he had at the lighter weight class should remain and that’ll be the key to finishing the reign of the “The Underground King”.

The king is dead, long live the king.

Prediction: McGregor, via TKO, third round.


Colin Keane, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.