NEW YORK -- UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor is now a two-division title holder, after knocking out ex-lightweight king Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205.
Winning the 145-pound title in December 2015, McGregor immediately set his sights on a second belt. He made UFC history by becoming the first fighter to hold two titles simultaneously; the second-round knockout coincided with the UFC's debut at Madison Square Garden, and in New York City.
McGregor dominated from the beginning, knocking Alvarez down on three occasions in the first round. Alvarez seemed to recover after a brief grappling exchange to close out the frame, but in the second period, McGregor returned to his impressive form, landing jabs and thwarting Alvarez's takedown attempts and clinch efforts.
Standing in the center of the Octagon, McGregor landed a perfect four-punch combination, alternating lefts and right, connecting on every hit. The striking exchange sent Alvarez to the mat for the final time. McGregor followed up with another left and right on the ground before referee John McCarthy stepped in to call the contest at 3:04.
"Eddie is a warrior but he shouldn't be in there with me. I am a different level. Now, I celebrate as champion of two divisions," commented McGregor following the bout.
McGregor also went on to add that his new status as the UFC's first two-division champion will come with new demands. "I want the ownership. I want the equal share. I want what I deserved ... I'm coming for mine now if you want me back," he said.
The record-setting fight, which was seen live by an audience of 20,427, earned McGregor a Performance of the Night bonus. McGregor's name atop the marquee also accounted for a gate of $17.7-million gate, making it the highest grossing event in the history of the UFC and the most famous arena in sports.
"We broke every record in UFC history tonight," offered UFC president Dana White. "[The fighters] went in and delivered ... tonight was a massive win for the UFC, a huge win for the sport."
In the evening's co-main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley retained his title after a five-round war with challenger Stephen Thompson. But after 25 minutes of fighting, the champion escaped with a majority draw, winning 47-47, 47-47, 48-47 and setting up a rematch.
Woodley came out fast, dominating in the first round. The welterweight champion took the challenger to the ground and smothered with elbows in the opening frame, but in the second and third, Thompson mounted a comeback, keeping his distance, and unloading with his unconventional striking techniques.
The UFC 205 Fight of the Night was nearly stopped in the fourth, when Woodley dropped Thompson twice with his right hand. Following up with punches on the ground, Woodley eventually attempted a guillotine choke. Thompson survived the frame and took the fifth on the judges scorecards.
"I thought I won the fight ... I thought they probably should have stopped the fight," stated Woodley. "I saw his eyes roll back ... I think I punched him and woke him back up."
The first of three title fights on the UFC 205 card, Polish strawweights Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkoweicz went the distance, with the champion retaining her belt via a unanimous decision, 49-46, 49-46, 49-46.
Jedrzejczyk delivered a technically brilliant performance through three rounds, rattling off four and five-strike combos on the feet. But in the fourth, Kowalkiewicz landed the most significant punch of the bout, wobbling, and then nearly finishing Jedrzejczyk.
The champion survived the scare and took the fifth frame en route to the victory.
"I wasn't hurt very badly but you never expect the knockdown," stated Jedrzejczyk. "Polish person are probably the toughest in the world."
In a middleweight title eliminator, Cuban Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero recorded a vicious knockout of former UFC champion Chris Weidman, landing a flying knee 24 seconds into the third round.
Weidman came out slow and methodical in the first round, landing kicks, low and to the midsection, before taking Romero to the ground. But Weidman was never able to gain too much momentum, and in the second round, Romero brought the former champion down.
A notoriously slow starter, Romero improved as the fight went on, taking Weidman down with increasing ease, while evading the New Yorker's best shots. In the third, it was a fast and vicious knee, followed by punches on the ground that finished the fight.
"There are no words to express how I feel in this moment. Every fight of this magnitude will always be difficult. There was a lot of back and forth and I did my best to take advantage of situations as they came," commented Romero, who took home a Performance of the Night bonus. "I waited on him to rush in. I thought he was beginning to feel comfortable enough to do this and then I caught him with the knee."
Opening up the UFC 205 main card, bantamweights Raquel Pennington and Miesha Tate went the distance.
Pennington landed her jab with ease throughout, finding Tate's chin and pushing the action against the fence. With Tate unable to do any damage, Pennington sunk in a deep guillotine choke attempt early on, but the former champion pulled off some wall-walking acrobatics to escape from the submission attempt.
In the second round, Pennington continued to box her way to a lead, but Tate hung close, landing a takedown.
Down on the scorecards, Tate pulled guard in the third round and attempted a number of submissions. The finish never came and Pennington walked away the victory via unanimous decision.
"We developed a friendship, but business is business. I knew I had to go out there and take care of business tonight," offered Pennington, who has won four-straight bouts. "I feel like a lot of people underestimate my ground game, but I am a grappler at heart and I feel my most comfortable there so her submission attempts didn't feel threatening. I just waited for her to make small mistakes and, when she did, I was ready to start teeing off."
Following the bout, Tate, a former UFC champion, announced her retirement.
In the evening's featured preliminary bout, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar returned to the win column with an impressive unanimous decision win over brawler Jeremy Stephens.
Coming off a loss at UFC 200, Edgar used his footwork and speed to seamlessly blended together boxing and wrestling, out-pacing Stephens throughout the first period.
Midway through the second frame, Stephens landed a head kick that briefly floored Edgar, followed by a knee. But Edgar would find his bearings and close the distance before implementing his takedown game.
The third round played out much the same, with Edgar using his boxing and movement to frustrate the heavy swinging Stephens. Recording his fifteenth career UFC victory, Edgar took the fight at Madison Square Garden despite suffering a serious injury in training camp.
"This feels incredible. It wasn't an easy camp, I actually tore my MCL and had to get an epidural in my back but nothing was going to stop me from fighting in New York City," stated Edgar. "That kick rung my bell for a second, but I felt I rallied back. Of course, one judge gave Jeremy the round but what can you do? He's a tough guy and I knew that could happen. I want to fight in Brooklyn. That's all I care about."
A lightweight contest between second-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson ended in a third-round submission, but the story of the fight was Nurmagomedov's wrestling and ground and pound.
Stunned by a Johnson punch combination early in the first round, Nurmagomedov quickly found an opening for his dominant takedown game, forcing the bout to the canvas. Nurmagomedov controlled Johnson's legs and arms, repeatedly frustrating the American with non-stop punches.
The second round played out much like the first, with Nurmagomedov taking Johnson to the ground, and following up with punches.
Johnson managed to survive the frame, however, in the third, Nurmagomedov finally found his finishing form, forcing Johnson to submit due to a kimura.
Nurmagomedov improves to 24-0 and 8-0 in the UFC.
"I came in and executed my game plan. Michael is good, but I am the best in the world," commented Nurmagomedov, who covets a bout with McGregor. "I want to stay humble but I have to talk. Ireland only has 6 million people, Russia has 150 million. I want to fight your chicken! Let's go! Let's go!"
UFC 205 Results
Conor McGregor def. Eddie Alvarez via KO (punches) Rd. 2, 3:04
Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson fight to a majority draw (47-47, 47-47, 48-47)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Yoel Romero def. Chris Weidman via KO (flying knee and punches) Rd. 3, 0:24
Raquel Pennington def. Miesha Tate via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Frankie Edgar def. Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Khabib Nurmagomedov def. Michael Johnson via verbal submission (kimura) R3, 2:31
Tim Boetsch def. Rafael Natal via TKO (punches) Rd. 1, 1:37
Vicente Luque def. Belal Muhammad via KO (punches) Rd. 1, 3:57
Jim Miller def. Thiago Alves via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Liz Carmouche def. Katlyn Chookagian via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)