After years of blood, sweat and tears in their efforts to get professional mixed martial arts legalized in the state of New York, the UFC is finally ready to hit the “Big Apple” and they aren’t going back on their promise to kick things off with a star-studded card. To this point, the promotion has confirmed eight bouts for the card, which still leaves the door open for at least two more fights to be added to the event. And with no main event announced, one can assume there are still some exciting matchups yet to be announced. Let’s take a closer look at how UFC 205 stacks up so far.
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson
After weeks of speculation, Tyron Woodley is officially defending his title against No. 1 contender Stephen Thompson in what the UFC has confirmed will be the co-main event of UFC 205. Woodley is coming off a stunning first-round KO of Robbie Lawler and is a versatile fighter who can get it done in the stand-up or on the ground. His opponent, Thompson is a winner of seven straight and has finished four of those wins by KO or TKO. This is a great matchup between two of the best welterweights in the word.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Dominant strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk makes her fourth title defense against fellow Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz in what promises to be an action-packed title fight. Joanna Champion boasts some of the best striking in the UFC and she’s been punishing all-comers since winning the title in 2015. In her three title defenses, she hasn’t less than 126 significant strikes and crossed the 200 mark against Valerie Letourneau at UFC 193. Kowalkiewicz will try to match that intensity at UFC 205, and given her performance against action-fighter Rose Namajunas in July, it’s likely she’ll be able to keep up. Jedrzejczyk and Kowalkiewicz combine for a perfect 22-0 record, so someone is leaving Madison Square Garden with a new belt while the other leaves with their first professional loss.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Donald Cerrone
Donald Cerrone was originally scheduled to take on former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 205 but that fight was quickly scrapped when “Ruthless” realized he probably need a bit more time to heal from his KO loss at UFC 201. Instead, “Cowboy” will now battle fifth-ranked welterweight Kelvin Gastelum in a fight that could have title shot implications. Gastelum outpointed former champion Johny Hendricks back in May and also has wins over Rick Story, Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt. Cerrone’s legend has been growing exponentially since 2013, as he’s won an incredible 12 fights in that three-year span. The winner here could claim the next welterweight title shot.
Miesha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington
Miesha Tate returns for her first fight since losing the belt to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 face Raquel Pennington in New York City. Pennington and Tate actually have history, as Tate was Pennington’s coach on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. Since the show, both fighters have gone on to win five of their last seven fights and will now meet as two of the best women’s bantamweight fighters in the world.
Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
Seventh-ranked featherweight Jeremy Stephens takes on arguably his toughest challenge to date when he battles former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Stephens is coming off a hard-fought decision over Renan Barao and is eager to prove he deserves to be in the featherweight top five. Frankie Edgar will attempt to bounce back his second career loss to interim featherweight champion Jose Aldo, but has long been considered one of the top 145- and 155-pound fighters in the world. He can likely earn another shot at the belt with a strong showing at UFC 205.
Tim Kennedy vs. Rashad Evans
Middleweight contender Tim Kennedy makes his UFC return after more than two years away when he battles former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. Both Kennedy and Evans are both incredible wrestlers and are proficient in the stand-up -- while Kennedy chooses to attack with more power, Evans is more technical with his boxing. Considering Kennedy’s long absence from the sport, and Evans introduction to his third UFC weight class, this is a good opportunity to gauge where both fighters stand in the crowded middleweight division.
Tim Boetsch vs. Rafael Natal
In the second middleweight bout on the card, hard-hitting Tim Boetsch scraps with accomplished grappler Rafael Natal. Boetsch is riding the wave from his skid-snapping second-round finish of Josh Samman and is hoping to string together victories for the first time since 2012 against Natal, who just has one loss in his last five fights. This will be an entertaining bout, but given the magnitude of the card, and the other bouts currently slated for the card, this one is likely headed to the prelims.
Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian
UFC and Strikeforce veteran Liz Carmouche will try to snap Katlyn Chookagian’s eight-fight win streak when they go toe-to-toe at UFC 205. Chookagian, who trains with the likes of Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza, had a successful UFC debut back in July against Lauren Murphy and would like to continue her climb up the women’s bantamweight ladder. Standing in her way is the always-tough Carmouche, a two time title challenger who has battled the likes of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and Marloes Coenen. Solid matchup between two top-15 fighters.