The UFC heads to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan for UFC 205. The card is still very good despite the loss of Rashad Evans-Tim Kennedy and Kelvin Gastelum-Donald Cerrone from the card.
The lightweight championship bout between Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor promises to be a very entertaining battle, and ‘The Notorious’ figures to lap up the attention on the main stage in New York City. The welterweight battle between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson might not be as anticipated as the Alvarez-McGregor battle, but it will be a war between two fighters with 33 total fights and a combined four losses. The women’s strawweight bout between Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Joanna Jedrzejcyzk is a battle between two women who have yet to suffer a loss. Someone will leave the octagon with their first-career setback.
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Frankie Edgar ($9,200 vs. Jeremy Stephens): Edgar suffered a unanimous decision loss against Jose Aldo at UFC 200, failing in his bid to become featherweight champion. ‘The Answer’ looks to get back on track using his wrestling prowess against Stephens, a guy who is pretty solid defensively. Stephens is also a very powerful fighter, winning 17 of his 25 wins by knockout, something Edgar will need to be aware of from the start. Stephens has allowed six takedowns over his past four fights, and that’s not something he’ll want against Edgar. If Edgar gets him down on the mat, he’ll get his hooks in and it’s over, despite Stephens’ above-average defensive wrestling.
Conor McGregor ($8,600 vs. Eddie Alvarez): ‘The Notorious’ will be up against a very good fighter with very few holes in his game. However, Alvarez will not be able to keep McGregor from becoming the first fighter in UFC history to hold two titles simulataneously. Alvarez and McGregor are both very powerful fighters, and there is a good chance this bout ends by knockout. Alvarez has 15 knockouts in 28 wins, while McGregor has 17 knockouts in 20 wins, with six in the UFC which is tied for most since 2013. This bout is expected to see the fists flying fast and furious in the first round. If Alvarez is able to survive the first round, that’s not good for McGregor. However, that won’t happen. McGregor will end him in Round 1.
Khabib Nurmgomedov ($9,000 vs. Michael Johnson): Nurmagomedov will face a wounded, but still dangerous fighter in ‘The Menace’. Johnson has dropped two of his past three bouts, but he recorded a KO/TKO in the first round against Dustin Poirier. Nurmagomedov is 23-0 and looking for a title bout, and he cannot afford to be lax in his bout if he wants a crack at the winner of the Alvarez-McGregor fight. Nurmagomedov has managed a takedown in five of his past seven bouts, and he holds a plus-146 significant strike advantage in UFC fights. Nurmagomedov will look to get Johnson to the mat early and often. Six of Johnson’s 10 losses have come via submission, and if Nurmagomedov can get top position he’ll add to Johnson’s loss total by submission.
Rafael Natal ($8,100 vs. Tim Boetsch): Boetsch and Natal are a pair of veterans who will hook up in an entertaining battle. Natal will need to work on taking down Boetsch and avoiding the significant strikes. Natal has 36 takedowns since joining the UFC, most all-time among middleweights. Conversely, Boetsch lands 53 percent of significant strikes in UFC middleweight battles, sixth-highest among active middleweights. Natal can take a shot, but he needs to play defense and avoid the devastating shot. If he can tire the slow-footed Boetsch and get him down to the mat, he’ll be a tremendous value as your No. 4 fighter.
Yoel Romero ($7,700 vs. Chris Weidman): The Cuban fighter Romero has been impressive in his UFC, and he is a good value as a moderate underdog at +165 in Vegas. Romero might have a little bit of rust since he has been sidelined since December after a failed drug test. Romero had a potential two-year suspension reduced to six months, as he was able to prove the failed test came from a tainted legal supplement. The Cuban is a tremendous wrestler, but he also tends to get a bit winded the longer the bout goes on. He’ll need to use his powerful punching and wrestling ability to try and end Weidman early. If the fight drags on into Round 3 Romero’s DFS owners will have to hope he did enough to impress the judges while avoided a surprise punch from Weidman to turn the tables.
Tyron Woodley ($7,400 vs. Stephen Thompson): ‘The Chosen One’ is coming off a first-round KO/TKO of Robbie Lawler at UFC 201, so he is riding high. He puts his belt on the line against ‘Wonderboy’, who is on a seven-bout win streak himself. Thompson enters this fight with 4.7 strikes landed per minute, which is sixth-most among active welterweights. Woodley counters with a 68 percent significant strike defense, which is best among active welterweights. You can expect this to be a toe-to-toe battle, as Thompson has not allowed a takedown since 2012. Woodley will use his speed to bounce in and out of trouble, avoiding the KO/TKO. Woodley +155 is a slight underdog in this one, but he is a good value as your No. 6 fighter due to his tremendous defense.