UFC 205 isn’t just 11 badass fights between some of the best fighters in the world. No, it’s much more than that -- these fights have meaning. Here are five storylines from Saturday night’s card that make it an absolutely must-see night for all combat sports fans.
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New York, New York
After years of blood, sweat and tears, professional MMA is finally legal in New York City, opening the door for the world’s biggest fight promotion to begin holding fights there. New York City, Madison Square Garden in particular, where UFC 205 is being held, is home to some of the greatest fights in the history of combat sports. UFC 205, headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez, joins that elite list and will surely be the first of a long line of incredible UFC fights to happen in the Big Apple.
Is Khabib really back?
Khabib Nurmagomedov is, hands down, one of the most talented fighters in the lightweight division. The only reason he’s not fighting for the lightweight title this weekend is because of his inactivity over the last two years. Since April 2014, Nurmagomedov has only fought once, and that was against an unranked UFC newcomer that took the fight on short notice. He needs to prove to fans, the UFC and himself, frankly, that he can still fight at a high level and that he can stay healthy. Because the last thing the UFC wants is a champion that only fights once a year. The climb back starts with Michael Johnson during the UFC 205 prelims on Saturday night.
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Polish superstars Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz will meet in the Octagon on Saturday in a strawweight title fight. But bragging rights are also on the line in this fight. Both women hail from Poland and bring undefeated records into their matchup at UFC 205. If their press conference staredown was any indication, both are eager to put that first blemish on the other’s record and prove who the best 115-pound fighter is in the world, but more importantly, Poland.
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GSP’s next opponent
Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson are fighting for much more than the welterweight belt on Saturday night. They’re also fighting for a potential matchup with former champion Georges St-Pierre and the huge payday that comes with it. St-Pierre has been on a career hiatus for three years but is ready to return to the sport. He was reportedly ready to fight at UFC 206 in December but a contract dispute has all-but killed those chances. Woodley instead will fight Thompson for the belt, which should give the UFC and GSP a bit more time to negotiate and figure out something for the winner of Saturday’s welterweight championship.
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On Saturday night Conor McGregor will try to become the first-ever simultaneous two-weight champion in UFC history. It is an incredible feat, but McGregor says if anyone can do it, it’s him. McGregor has had a meteoric rise to get to this point. He’s won eight of his nine UFC fights, six by way of knockout, and has used his charismatic yet sometimes brash personality to garner the attention of fans worldwide. There’s no doubt that a McGregor victory on Saturday night would take the promotion to new heights, mainly off the attention from the media, but also because the fight promises to be exciting. Regardless of how things play out, UFC 205 will be one fans remember for a very long time.