5 historic UFC title fights at Madison Square Garden

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Since the UFC’s first event at Madison Square Garden in 2016, New York City has become an annual venue for the world’s premier MMA promotion. MSG has hosted some of the greatest moments in combat sports history, featuring some of the most iconic sports personalities of all time.

On this day in 1974, Muhammad Ali won his second of three fights against Joe Frazier in New York’s Madison Square Garden. 🥊📸: @LeiferNeil https://t.co/PYb3bJUU9Y

With the conclusion of UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira in the Big Apple, the UFC has now set up six pay-per-views at Madison Square Garden. The six blockbuster events featured many memorable title fights, which have been ranked below.

Here are five historic UFC title fights that took place at Madison Square Garden.


#5. Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz – UFC 244

The resurgence of Jorge Masvidal’s career in 2019 was a sight to behold. After suffering back-to-back split decision losses in 2017, Masvidal took a two-year hiatus from the octagon. Upon his return, “Gamebred” adopted a kill or be killed mentality, realizing the need for vicious intent in the cage.

He kicked off 2019 with a torrid knockout win over popular Englishman Darren Till in London and followed that up with a viral five-second knockout of Ben Askren. His star power reached new heights and continued to grow when he was called out by UFC superstar Nate Diaz, who was fresh off a win over Anthony Pettis.

Both Diaz and Masvidal are MMA veterans with tons of UFC experience. With both fighters having cult followings and known for their brash and unapologetic personalities, the unique BMF (Bad Motherf***er) title was created. The duo contested for the BMF celebration belt in the main event of UFC 244.

Masvidal vs. Diaz poster [Image via @espnmma on Instagram]
Masvidal vs. Diaz poster [Image via @espnmma on Instagram]

From the start, Jorge Masvidal pushed Nate Diaz back with his relentless pressure. The Miami native apparently also had the power advantage, as every time he landed cleanly on his counterpart, it clearly had an impact.

Masvidal picked up the pace over the next two rounds, catching Diaz with powerful elbows and hooks in the clinch. He even landed a flush head kick, dropping the Stockton native to the canvas. “Gamebred” also delivered vicious ground and pound strikes, leaving Diaz bloodied and battered.

A massive gash above Diaz’s right eye leaked profusely throughout round three. As the fourth frame approached, the doctor on call halted the action to avoid running the risk of further damage. Masvidal was thus crowned BMF champion.

Jorge Masvidal wins the BMF title [Image via @espnmma on Twitter]
Jorge Masvidal wins the BMF title [Image via @espnmma on Twitter]

#4. Israel Adesanya vs. Alex Pereira – UFC 281

After a successful career in the kickboxing ring, Alex Pereira moved into MMA. The hard-hitting Brazilian’s rapid rise through the middleweight ranks can be attributed to his rivalry with 185-pound kingpin Israel Adesanya. His two kickboxing victories over Adesanya, including one by knockout, helped ‘Poatan’ win a title with just three wins inside the octagon.

In the main event of UFC 281, Pereira faced Adesanya for the middleweight throne.

Adesanya vs Pereira fan made poster [Image via @diaztwinsmma on Instagram]
Adesanya vs Pereira fan made poster [Image via @diaztwinsmma on Instagram]

Alex Pereira was the betting underdog before the fight. It’s only his eighth professional MMA fight, the serial knockout artist hasn’t had much ring time in the octagon unlike Israel Adesanya.

“The Last Stylebender” started the fight well, badly injuring Pereira at the end of the first round. The Brazilian was probably saved by the bell. While the next three rounds were quite close, Adesanya was clearly ahead of his counterpart.

Heading into the fifth and final round, Adesanya was just five minutes away from securing a sixth title defense. However, two minutes into the game, Pereira landed a series of vicious shots, including a thunderous left hook, which put the champion on ice. After a few follow-up shots, the referee stepped in and a new middleweight king was crowned.


#3. Joanna Jędrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas – UFC 217

In 2017, Joanna Jędrzejczyk was among the most dominant champions in MMA. After winning the title in 2015, the Polish strawweight racked up five title defenses and looked unstoppable atop the 115-pound division.

Jędrzejczyk assumed TUFF runner-up Rose Namajunas and she was understandably a heavy betting favorite. After a week of fighting brimming with psychological warfare tactics from the strawweight queen, the duo locked horns in Madison Square Garden.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk, a multiple-time former Muay Thai and kickboxing champion, was widely regarded as one of MMA’s top strikers at the time. Since Rose Namajunas didn’t have much offensive wrestling in her arsenal, many expected the strawweight champion to retain her belt.

Namajunas shocked the world on the night, knocking out Jędrzejczyk in the very first round. She dropped the champion twice in the opening minutes and finished off the defending champion with some vicious ground-and-pound strikes, wrapping up one of the biggest upsets in promotional history.

UFC commentator Daniel Cormier’s immediate reaction to Namajunas’ sensational victory made this memorable moment even sweeter.


#2. Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre – UFC 217

After his narrow and controversial win over Johny Hendricks in 2013, then-welterweight king Georges St-Pierre opted to vacate his title and walk away from the sport. The victory over Hendricks marked St-Pierre’s ninth defense of the title.

While his CV until then sealed his place among the greatest fighters of all time, what he did four years later saw many hail the Canadian as the GOAT.

Georges St-Pierre has returned to the octagon after a four-year hiatus to contest the 185-pound championship. “Rush” faced then-middleweight champion Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in 2017.

The first two rounds were fairly evenly contested as St-Pierre nailed his takedowns while Bisping managed to do some serious damage on his back. The former welterweight champion took over in the third round, knocking down his English counterpart before locking in a rear choke to become a two-weight titleholder.

It was St-Pierre’s last appearance inside the octagon.

Nov 16, 2013 – GSP Walks Away as Welterweight Champion Nov 4, 2017 – GSP Wins Middleweight TitleThe legend is back! 🏆#UFC217 https://t.co/D45tMY29GV


#1. Eddie Alvarez vs. Conor McGregor – UFC 205

In 2016, New York became the 50th U.S. state to legalize and regulate mixed martial arts, after the sport was banned in the state in 1997. The UFC delivered a stacked and monumental card for its New York debut , featuring the sport’s biggest superstar as the headliner.

Ultimate Fighting Championship Inaugural Event at Madison Square Garden [Image via @SandhuMMA on Twitter]
Ultimate Fighting Championship Inaugural Event at Madison Square Garden [Image via @SandhuMMA on Twitter]

After claiming the featherweight title with a crushing 13-second victory over Jose Aldo and a two-fight streak with Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor has set his sights on becoming the first-ever concurrent two-division champion in history. promotional.

“The Notorious” locked horns with then lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez for the title in the main event of UFC 205 and produced arguably the best performance of his career. McGregor looked spot on from the start and made Alvarez look pretty distraught inside the octagon.

McGregor’s precise striking was evident in round one as he repeatedly dropped the champion. In the second, the Irishman looked untouchable as he separated Alvarez and finally put him away, making history and further establishing himself as the face of MMA.

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