There are massive stakes tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. Although Jon Jones will not be headlining the card, we have one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year, with Jiri Prochakza and Alex Pereira serving as the main event. The co-main event features Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall for the interim heavyweight title, with the winner likely getting that golden ticket to fight Jones at some point in 2024.
Madison Square Garden, the mecca of sports and entertainment, has witnessed some of the most thrilling and historic moments in combat sports history. Since the legalization of mixed martial arts in New York, the UFC has graced this iconic venue, delivering unforgettable spectacles. In this article, we'll look at the ten best UFC fights that have taken place at Madison Square Garden.
Kicking off this list is the featured bout of the UFC 281 card. Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler fought for a Lightweight title eliminator and delivered. Chandler found a lot of success in the early rounds, but Poirier took over late and submitted Chandler in the third round. It was wild, bloody, and very entertaining, and it was the fight that kicked off what was an action-packed UFC 281 card.
A clash of top Lightweight contenders, Kevin Lee and Gregor Gillespie put on an absolute show for as long as the fight lasted. Lee knocked Gillespie out cold with one of the most vicious head-kick knockouts you will ever see. The clip is still being shown to this day and the highlight reel finish solidified his status as a top fifteen talent in the division.
After Kamaru Usman defeated Colby Covington the first time, it was destiny that they would meet again, given that their first fight was very close up until Usman's fifth-round finish. The second fight, like the first was a war. Back-and-forth action, with both fighters finding success. In the end, it was Usman who earned a razor-close decision win over Colby, thus ending their rivalry.
The first meeting between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira was iconic. Their rivalry in the world of kickboxing had translated into MMA after Pereira came and made his presence known in the UFC Middleweight division after beating Andreas Michilidas, Bruno Silva, and Sean Strickland en route to his first UFC title shot opportunity. Adesanya was a star in the UFC, and Pereira would abruptly steal that spotlight, knocking Adesanya out in the fifth round.
After one of the greatest championship-winning performances in UFC history, Cody Garbrandt, now the UFC Bantamweight champion, looked ahead to his first title defense against bitter rival TJ Dillashaw. These two have had a long history of training at the same gym, and when TJ left and took his longtime coach with him, Cody took it personally. This was a very heated rivalry that met in the octagon, with Dillashaw finishing Cody Garbrandt, and winning the Bantamweight title from him.
Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler put on one of the greatest fights in UFC history at Madison Square Garden back at UFC 268. Similarly to the Poirier fight, Chandler found some success in the first round, rocking Gaethje. As tough as he is, Justin survived, and the two went to war for the remainder of the fight. This fight was action from bell to bell, and both men gave it their all for the duration of the fight. Nobody expected it to go to a decision, but it did with Gaethje getting the win.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk was in the midst of a legendary title run until she ran into Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. Joanna Champion was destroying everyone in her path but Namajunas pulled off a major upset, knocking the champion out in the very first round. This was a huge fight on the UFC 217 card that saw three champions lose their title.
At the peak of his stardom, Jorge Masvidal capped off an unbelievable year by winning the BMF belt, signifying him as the baddest dude in the UFC. The anticipation leading up to this fight was amazing, and the fight delivered. Masvidal and Diaz laid it all out there in the octagon until the doctor stopped the fight after the third round due to a gash above Nate Diaz's eye.
In a comeback for the ages, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre returned to the Octagon after a four-year layoff to face middleweight champion Michael Bisping. St-Pierre displayed his legendary skills, securing a third-round knockdown that led to a submission victory and adding another championship to his storied, Hall of Fame career.
Headlining the first-ever pay-per-view at the Garden, Conor McGregor made history as the first fighter to hold two title simultaneously, as he defeated Eddie Alvarez in the second round to become a double champ. McGregor's win made him a global superstar, and he etched his name in the history books forever.
With two title fights set to go down tomorrow night, we could likely see either of them get added to this list when the dust settles. This is one of the most highly anticipated cards of the year, the UFC always makes sure to put on exciting events whenever they travel to New York City, and UFC 295 looks like a can't miss event.