Banished from the state for some 21 years, the UFC made it’s triumphant return to New York on Saturday night with an astounding card that included three title fights. UFC 205 was the promotion’s first ever show at the famed Madison Square Garden venue, as well as the city of New York itself.
This was a truly special event and one that, by all accounts, created a very special atmosphere.
Even Joe Rogan, the veteran UFC commentator who has been present on so many of the company’s biggest nights, was awestruck by the mood in NYC during the build-up to the fights and throughout the entire card.
“The weigh-ins felt surreal,” Rogan told Brendan Schaub on the latest edition of The Joe Rogan Experience. “It was crazy. The weight of the event was thick in the air. It had this feel to it that was very different than any other show we have ever put together.”
It was an event, then, that deserved a big performance in the headline slot. Something really memorable.
And UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor delivered exactly that by violently dismantling Eddie Alvarez inside two rounds to win the lightweight championship and become the first fighter in the promotion’s history to hold titles in two weight divisions simultaneously.
It was a display worth gushing over. And boy, did Rogan and Schaub do that.
“The main event was almost bizarre. It’s almost bizarre how good Conor is,” began Rogan’s ode to ‘The Champ Champ’. “It’s almost bizarre the way he picked apart Eddie Alvarez. Almost bizarre and, like, magical – that’s almost the word that I want to use. Like he touches motherfuckers with the left hand.”
“They didn’t even look like they were from the same planet,” Schaub responded, not to be outdone on the warranted hyperbole front. “One guy looked like he was from Mars and the other guy looked like he was just a normal dude that was just trying to figure it out.”
“You could see on [Eddie’s] face [when he was hit], he was like, ‘Holy bejesus, what am I doing here?’ And then he goes, ‘Well he’s not that good at wrestling, let me try this wrestling.’ And Conor was like, ‘That was you’re shot? Oh, bro you’re in for a long night.'”
“And how calm was he? Just calm, upright and just waiting. And the accuracy of that combo that finally finished Eddie, that’s what I think makes Conor so special, is his accuracy when he throws punches. Eddie’s moving as he is landing this stuff – I’ve never seen anything like it. Like you said, it was straight-up magical. I’m like, ‘Well, we’ve never seen a guy like this, we just haven’t.’ And I don’t know if we ever will either.
“What he is doing though, he is a once in a lifetime guy.”
After the plaudit slinging came to an end, talk moved on to to what might be next for the heavy-handed martian. Will it be a return to 145lbs, a 155-pound title defence against either Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson, or a trilogy-completing contest with old foe Nate Diaz? Or what about an outlandish but entirely plausible jump back up to welterweight for a shot at Tyron Woodley’s belt?
“If you think he is fighting Khabib or Tony Ferguson next, you are bat shit crazy,” Schaub said. “That’s not happening for a very long time. I think his next fight will be Nate for the belt at [155lbs]. If you look at Khabib and Tony, they are both deserving. And we are MMA purists, we are balls-deep in MMA, we love it, and one of those guys deserve it. But as far as numbers and a big Pay-per-view, it would have to be Nate I think.”
“I don’t think Nate or Conor will fight unless…that has to be the match-up.”
Joe, however, see’s things differently.
“I think Conor will fight someone else,” he said. “I think Conor might even fight Woodley.”
“I say let him do it. Let him try. Woodley would say, ‘Let him try'”
However, while he thinks the Woodley fight is a possibility, Rogan feels as though Nurmagomedov is the fighter who deserves it most. The Russian was pretty inactive in 2014 and 2015 due to injury, but his dominant win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205 was his second of 2016 and he is an impressive 24-0 as a professional.
“McGregor and Khabib is the fight,” said the comedian. “Khabib needs to get the title shot at least. That’s what I think. I think he deserves it. He’s the only undefeated challenger. He’s a monster. He’s mauled everyone in front of him. He hasn’t had a single goddamn close fight. He’s had one moment when he gets dinged.”
Rogan’s thoughts on Nurmagomedov are hardly unusual, as many feel that the 28-year-old has not only earned a crack at the gold but that he is the uncrowned king of the division.
What Rogan said next, however, is pretty far out there.
“The UFC is about to go to Russia. They’re going to do it. UFC in Russia: Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov. That’s what I think is coming. Giant. Giant!”
Conor McGregor revealed at the UFC 205 post-fight press conference that his longtime girlfriend Dee Devlin is expecting the couple’s first baby and that he will take some time to adjust to his new situation. In the meantime, expect to hear a lot more speculation as to who the Irishman might fight next.
You can watch the relevant segment of the podcast below…