With UFC 200 just around the corner, the promotion has already set it’s sights on the monumental first card in New York since the state lifted it’s ban on MMA earlier this year. In what is set to be a memorable occasion for the UFC, matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva are likely to stack the card from top to bottom.
The UFC have famously been lobbying for almost a decade to get the ban, which came into effect in 1997, lifted. But a vote on the matter didn’t make it to the Senate floor until this year.
A bill calling for the removal of the ban was finally passed in March and after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on it the following month, the promotion were quick to announce that their first event in the state would take place at the famous Madison Square Garden venue.
November 12th is already a significant date in MMA history as it will mark the 23rd Anniversary of the very first UFC event and now it will be etched in history as the date the UFC returned to New York.
With so many fights that are likely to impact the New York card scheduled for the coming weeks, we will not only try to predict the full main card for UFC 205, but also the outcomes of some of these bouts.
While many predict that New York native Chris Weidman and New Jersey’s Frankie Edgar will be joined by Ronda Rousey on the card, both Weidman and Rousey will struggle to return from surgery in time, while we are forecasting a loss for Edgar in July, which will reduce him to a prelim on the card.
Rafael dos Anjos vs Conor McGregor (Lightweight Championship)
Rafael dos Anjos should prove to be too resilient for a game Eddie Alvarez, in what could well be one of the fights of the year on July 7th. Alvarez has been accused of fighting too safely as of late and just doing enough to get the victory, but he has been in wars with Michael Chandler and Gilbert Melendez in the past. With Dos Anjos stronger on the mat, expect Alvarez to keep the fight on the feet, where the pair will trade.
McGregor who faces Nate Diaz at UFC 202, in a fight that has gone from an underwhelming rematch to one of the most anticipated in the company’s history, has his work cut out for him to overturn his first UFC loss. Should McGregor win however, he will likely get one more chance to become a two weight champion before he is forced to defend his title or be stripped of it.
Robbie Lawler vs Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Championship)
Lawler, who also has a tough bout against Tyron Woodley coming up at UFC 201, has been involved in some of the most exciting bouts in recent years. But he will struggle to get the same phone-booth type brawl out of Woodley. The champion will be favourite to retain and face-off against former long-time titleholder Georges St. Pierre.
GSP has suggested that his return is close and many are speculating that it will family happen on the New York card. There has been talk that he will only come back for the right fight and that he doesn’t want to challenge for the belt, but I expect a u-turn from the great Canadian.
Jon Jones vs Anthony Johnson (Light-Heavyweight Championship)
His rematch with Daniel Cormier is likely to become the defining fight of Jon Jones’ relatively short career thus far and could cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time. If DC falls there is only one option left at light-heavyweight before an anticipated move up to heavyweight. The New York native will undoubtedly yearn to make the first defence of his second reign as part of the first show at Madison Square Garden.
‘Rumble’ himself has a tough obstacle in the shape of Glover Teixeira to navigate before a fight for the title can materialise. But many believe Johnson is the man with the skill-set and physical attributes to unseat Jon Jones, so a fight at UFC 205 could be one of the big draws on the card.
Brock Lesnar vs Fedor Emilianenko (Heavyweight)
While Brock Lesnar is only signed to a one-fight deal, the boundaries have now been broken down between the UFC and the WWE to strike deals in the future. A relationship is likely to grow which would be mutually beneficial to both promotions, as the WWE would love to have Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Paige VanZant available for appearances, while the UFC could continue it’s use of Brock when he is fit and available.
The Fedor saga has been ongoing for years now and since the Russian came out of retirement for a New Years Eve fight last year, the rumours have sparked up again that arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time will sign to fight in the UFC. What has made the likelihood stronger is the company’s recent deal to air Fedor’s June fight on UFC Fight Pass.
Cris Cyborg vs Holly Holm (Catchweight)
All the big events have at least one women’s bout on the main card and with Rousey and Tate/Nunes likely waiting until January or February, this fight could be a runner.
Cyborg has said that she is open to further catchweight bouts in the UFC, but will remain in Invicta, as she is the featherweight champion. If the UFC introduce a women’s featherweight division, have no doubt that the Brazilian will make the move, but for the promotion to do so, Cyborg would need to beat a top level opponent on a big card.
Holm, who has said that she would not fight Cyborg, might be persuaded though, as she will have to play the waiting game at bantamweight, should she beat Shevchenko in July. Rousey’s return is now targeted for the start of 2017 and the UFC have openly said that she will fight for the belt in her first fight back. So Holm may have to wait until mid 2017 to get a crack at the belt.