Last weekend the Ultimate Fighter Championship made history in more ways than one.
After 20 years of being banned in the state of New York, mixed martial arts was legalized in March, paving the way for the inaugural event of UFC 205, which took place on Saturday. Joining the ranks of legends like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, UFC 205 participants battled in the iconic arena of Madison Square Garden.
The main fight card included three championship title fights, with Conor McGregor versus Eddie Alvarez as the headliner. During the main event, McGregor maintained control of the first round by utilizing his unorthodox movement and precise striking ability, totaling 20 significant landed strikes to Alvarez’s 6, according to the UFC.
One look into Alvarez’s eyes during that fight, showed his fear of McGregor’s abilities and it was all downhill from there. Alvarez, battered and tired after the first round, attempted to hold his own with the “Notorious One” during the second round but fell short. Nearly two minutes in, McGregor unleashed a 4-count combination, knocking Alvarez out and claiming the lightweight title. McGregor is now the first UFC fighter to hold two champion title belts for two weight divisions, featherweight and lightweight.
Two more championship title fights took place during this groundbreaking event. Welterweight champ Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley brutally battled it out with No. 2-ranked Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. After five bloody rounds of hard hits and chess-like movement, the judges scored the fight as a majority draw, although the UFC reports Woodley as having a higher amount of total strikes, 113 to Thompson’s 60.
It wasn’t just the men who contended for championship titles. Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk fought fellow Polish citizen Karolina Kowalkiewicz who ranks No. 2 in the 115 pound division.
Jedrzejczyk dominated the fight with fast-striking and opportunistic grappling, totaling 181 significant strikes and one takedown, according to the UFC. Kowalkiewicz took a good beating, but did show an excellent display of endurance and resilience to the champ’s seasoned skills. The judges scored the fight a unanimous decision for Jedrzejczyk.
Albuquerque continues to be an international hub for mixed martial arts. One of the country’s top MMA training facilities is located downtown on the corner of Broadway Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Jackson Wink MMA Academy is home to several UFC fighters, including high-caliber players such as Diego Sanchez, Carlos Condit, Donald Cerrone and former bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
Matthew Bivin, a UNM senior psychology major, trains at the Jackson Wink Academy and says that MMA is a big part of his life. He said that martial arts can instill values of discipline and respect in young children and adults.
“It’s something I’ve loved since I was a kid,” Bivin said. “My parents put me in karate when I was younger. Loved it back then. Love it now.
Bivin says that MMA is significant to Albuquerque because there is an innate fight culture within the Albuquerque community.
“A lot of people in this town have a chip on their shoulder,” Bivin said. “I think knowing some of the martial arts and being able to move and being able to defend yourself is an important aspect in Albuquerque.”
As for the UFC, McGregor is already rumored to fight for his third championship title in the welterweight division against Woodley, which may prove to be a more difficult feat than his past victories. Also in December, after nearly a year off, former legendary bantamweight champ, Ronda Rousey will return to the octagon to face current champ, Amanda Nunes.
Robert Salas is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.