So UFC 205 in New York City is finally upon us and we’ve got our predictions for all fights on this star-studded monster of a card below.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Conor McGregor
The price of being as big a star as Conor McGregor is that there’s no easy fights for him anymore, no matter which division he chooses to operate in, and that includes this match-up with Alvarez.
Alvarez has done very well to reach the top of the division and he’s a tough, well-rounded fighter, though while his win over RDA was impressive, he found the going tougher prior to that, with Donald Cerrone defeating him in his debut and then only just managing to grind out split decision wins over Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis.
That ability to use his wrestling and simply grind out a win rather than do something spectacular offers up a potentially solid route to victory here though, as McGregor can be taken down and controlled on the mat, and has shown signs of cardio issues in the later rounds too.
Alvarez does also like to get into slug fests on the feet though, and that’s good news for McGregor who’s got the height and reach advantage, and hits hard enough that even the normally granite-chinned Nate Diaz was dropped multiple times in their second meeting at 170lbs.
Alvarez’s chin can be cracked and he’s been rocked plenty of times in his previous fights, but he does have excellent powers of recovery. That’s a great quality to have, but it’s a finite attribute, and with the kind of power that McGregor is wielding, he may struggle to recover the way he normally does.
So, both men have routes to victory, but I think Alvarez’s tendancy to want to strike until he gets hurt could be his downfall as McGregor uses his lazer-accurate striking, excellent shot selection and natural power to stop the champion within the first two rounds of the fight.
Conor McGregor to win by TKO in Rd2
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson
This is an intriguing welterweight title match-up that features a distinct contrast in styles, with Woodley being a tremendous athlete with devastating KO power, while Thompson is the slick, elusive technician with a swiss-army knife of offensive attacks at his disposal.
Thompson comes into the fight with a 3″ height and 1″ reach advantage, which suits his rangey style, maintaining distance with fast-twitch karate kicks that come from all angles when you least expect it. Crucially it’s not all style over substance for ‘Wonderboy’, with four of the seven victories in his current winning streak having come by either KO or TKO.
That being said, Woodley does pack the bigger punch, with 5 or his 6 UFC wins to date ending by way of strikes. He doesn’t put his strikes together as well as his opponent, but he will happily bide his time waiting for the right moment to unleash, and has the speed to cover distances quickly to land the killer blow.
Woodley also has a solid wrestling background, and if he can get Thompson to the mat that could be his best chance to dominate the fight. That being said, ‘Wonderboy’s’ distance, speed and movement makes him extremely hard to get to the mat, and he’s worked hard to shore up his wrestling weaknesses.
Woodley can end the fight in an instant, but Thompson is a vastly experienced striker with tremendous technique and I expect him to outclass the champion in the stand-up exchanges. It may go to a decision, but with 25 minutes to work I’ll take Thompson to find a way to catch Woodley by surprise and end the fight by TKO.
Stephen Thompson to win by TKO in Rd4.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
It’s an all-Polish clash in the third title event on the card, and these two have met once before during their amateur career’s with Jedrzejczyk winning on that occasion by submission.
Both ladies are primarily strikers though, and very good ones at that. That being said, Jedrzeczyk is a cut above, possessing lightning-quick, accurate combinations, great footwork and sense of distance, and the cardio to keep going at a high-tempo for 25 minutes.
Against other fighters it’s Kowalkiewicz who would hope to push the pace and put together the better offensive onslaughts, but she’s simply outgunned by a better striking technician here.
Kowalkiewicz is tough however, and while there is a chance of a finish I think she’ll hang in there until the final bell.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk to win by decision.
Yoel Romero vs. Chris Weidman
This is a very interesting top-end middleweight clash with potential title implications for the winner.
Romero is a freak physical specimen, moving his muscular frame with unexpected speed, while also being armed with great power too. He’s not the most technical striker though and tends to pick his moments to burst to life rather than being a constant threat through the course of a fight.
On the other hand, Weidman is all about being in his opponent’s face all fight long, putting in a hard shift with solid, controlled striking and very good grappling skills. He’ll also enjoy a 5″ reach advantage on the night, but nonetheless will have to be wary of Romero’s ability to make up ground quickly.
It also has to be remember that Romero is a world class wrestler, though it’s an attribute he often doesn’t take full advantage of, and with Weidman being a very good wrestler himself and also possessing a submission threat, it’s unlikely we’ll see much of the fight fought on the mat.
This is a close one to call, but I favor Weidman’s pressure-game to stifle Romero’s own offensive output and enable the former champion to stay the more active fighter overall en-route to a decision victory.
Chris Weidman to win by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Fight canceled due to Gastelum not making weight.
Raquel Pennington vs. Miesha Tate
Pennington has been in fine form of late with three wins in a row, in addition to making life difficult for Holly Holm in her debut back in 2015, and she’s rewarded with a tough fight against former champ Tate on the main card of the year’s biggest event.
The striking battle should be competitive, though I feel that Pennington has a little more finesse and fluidity in her work, while Tate isn’t the most explosive, but is extremely tough and packs a punch.
Both fighters are very capable grapplers, but Tate in particular is a savvy veteran who does her best work on the mat and shows excellent control on top, and I think that’s where she’ll win this fight.
Miesha Tate to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson
Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad
Tim Boetsch vs. Rafael Natal
Thiago Alves vs. Jim Miller
Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian