By Adam Martin
Heading into the event, UFC 205 was the most stacked card in MMA history, and fortunately for the UFC the card lived up to the hype, as it was one of the most exciting nights of fights ever, a night that was historic in many regards. While everyone is talking about Conor McGregor's historic victory over Eddie Alvarez in the main event, and for good reason, there were tons of other storylines that are flying under the radar.
Here's a closer at look at some of the storylines coming out of the UFC's first card in New York City:
McGregor Is Now a Two-Division Champ: What's Next?
The main event of UFC 205 was a real beatdown, as Conor McGregor scored three knockdowns over Eddie Alvarez before referee John McCarthy mercifully stopped the fight in the second round, declaring McGregor the winner by knockout, and awarding him the UFC lightweight title. McGregor is now the first man in UFC history to hold two belts at once (with him also holding the UFC featherweight title), and he emerged as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC in the process.
It's hard to say what's next for McGregor. He's been extremely active for a champion, but he and his girlfriend Dee Devlin are expecting a child in 2017, which could push McGregor to the sidelines. But if he does keep fighting, he will have to choose whether he wants to defend his 145-pound or 155-pound belt. It seems clear he'll stick at 155 lbs considering how good he looked against Alvarez, so he'll likely be matched up against either Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov in his first lightweight title defense, but a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz can't be completely ruled out. Regardless of when he fights, or who he fights, though, it's clear McGregor is the biggest superstar in MMA, and his next time out should be another PPV blockbuster.
In the "Fight of the Night," Tyron Woodley battled Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson to a draw to retain his belt. It was an incredibly close fight, with Woodley winning two dominant rounds and Thompson winning three close rounds, and at the end of the day, it's hard to argue with the draw as the result. UFC President Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that the UFC will book a rematch between these two for the belt, and that bout should headline a PPV in 2017. The biggest loser in all of this is Demian Maia, who will have to wait even longer for a title shot.
Can Anyone Give Jedrzejczyk A Challenge?
UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk continued her reign of terror over the rest of the 115-pounders in the UFC, winning a unanimous decision over Karolina Kowalkiewicz for her
fourth consecutive title defense. Jedrzejczyk is now undefeated at 13-0 in her MMA career, including a 7-0 record in the UFC alone, and at this point it's hard to see anyone giving her a challenge for her title. One fighter who "Joanna Champion" hasn't yet fought is Jessica Andrade, who has the striking ability to at least give Jedrzejczyk a competitive battle. But at this point, it's hard to see the champ losing her belt anytime soon.
Romero Earns Middleweight Title Shot Against Bisping
Yoel Romero improved to 8-0 in the UFC with a brutal third-round flying knee knockout win over former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman. At 39 years old, Romero is a scary beast of a man, and with his freak athleticism and explosive KO power, he has a good chance to win the middleweight title. He'll get the chance to do so when he takes on UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping sometime in 2017 in what will be a highly-anticipated 185-pound title fight.
Pennington Retires Tate
Raquel Pennington picked up the biggest win of her career with a unanimous decision victory over former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate in the PPV opener. It was an ugly fight to watch, but at the end of the day Pennington did what she had to do and got the win, her fourth straight victory in the Octagon. What was most surprising about this fight came afterwards, when Tate announced she was retiring from MMA, citing a long career and a lot of damage taken. Though Tate is only 30, she is making a good decision to get out at the right time with her wits still intact. And considering she is both attractive and well-spoken, she should have no problem finding TV offers doing MMA analysis, and maybe even movies down the road.
Nurmagomedov Thrashes Johnson, But Will He Get A Title Shot?
Khabib Nurmagomedov tossed Michael Johnson around the Octagon like a rag doll and submitted him late in the third with a kimura. Nurmagomedov is now 24-0 in MMA and 8-0 in the UFC, and he clearly deserves to fight for the lightweight title, but with Ferguson also deserving, it's hard to say who the UFC will pick to fight McGregor. There's no doubting, though, that Nurmagomedov is one of the finest lightweights in MMA and will have a good chance to win the belt regardless of who he fights.
Other UFC 205 Nuggets
- In the “main event” of the prelims, Frankie Edgar earned a hard-fought decision win over Jeremy Stephens. Edgar is clearly the third-best featherweight behind McGregor and Aldo, but with two losses to Aldo, it's hard to see him getting a title shot anytime soon, so he'll have to keep winning fights to get another crack at the belt.
- Tim Boetsch knocked out Rafael Natal for his second-straight KO win. Boetsch is one of the most under-appreciated middleweights on the UFC roster, and this win over Natal should earn him a top-15 opponent in his next outing.
- The underrated Vicente Luque knocked out Belal Muhammad for his fourth-straight win in the UFC, with all those wins coming by highlight-reel knockout or submission. Luque is only 24 and is a serious prospect to look forward to in the welterweight division going forward. He deserves a top-15 opponent for his next fight.
- After losing a decision to Diego Sanchez earlier this year, it appeared Jim Miller was completely shot as a fighter, but he's now reeled off three straight wins, over Takanori Gomi, Joe Lauzon, and Thiago Alves, who Miller dominated at UFC 205 despite Alves coming in considerably overweight for the bout. Miller is an incredible gatekeeper to the top 10, and it's nice to see the veteran going on this late-career run.
- Liz Carmouche never gets the respect she deserves, but after beating Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 205, maybe she will. Carmouche is now 3-3 in the UFC, though the losses have come against elite fighters in Miesha Tate, Alexis Davis, and Ronda Rousey, and the win over Chookagian should get her a top-10 opponent in her next fight.