Was UFC 205 the Best Card in Promotional History?

The UFC put on their most stacked card in their history in New York, but did it live up to the title of “best card in MMA history?”

The UFC‘s long-awaited arrival in New York has finally passed, and it delivered for the fans.  The card had everything: great knockouts, surprises, wars, and of course, history.  A day later, is UFC 205 the best card ever?

Earlier this year, the promotion put on another stacked event in UFC 200 and on paper it was a tough card to top.  205 surpassed it with three undisputed title fights compared to the two (one for an interim belt) at 200.  Inside the cage, it’s hard to dispute that the fights delivered even better than in July.

The battle between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson was a back-and-forth affair that came down to the final five minutes to determine a winner.  So close and tense was the fight that Bruce Buffer was stopped mid-decision to go back and check that the scores had been tabulated correctly.  Even more, Buffer had to interrupt the post-fight interview to announce a correction.  Quite simply unheard of for an event, especially on such a monumental card.

Even before the draw for the welterweight title, fans were treated to one of the best talents in the UFC as Joanna Jędrzejczyk defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz to defend her strawweight title.  What was shaping up to be a blow-out after three rounds was suddenly turned around when the challenger landed a huge right hand that staggered her fellow countrywoman.  Fans watching got to see the champion battle through adversity to hold on and retain the belt.

It seemed as if there was a headline in every fight: Miesha Tate’s unexpected retirement fight to open the PPV, Yoel Romero’s knockout of the year candidate and subsequent exchange with Michael Bisping.  Even on the undercard, fans were treated to elite showcases by Frankie Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

And it cannot be understated, the electricity of the event to have a superstar like Conor McGregor participate and make history by dominating the main event to become the first two-division world champion in the UFC.

The fight card had a bit of everything, of that there is no doubt.  But, was it the best in history?

UFC 184 was certainly a special night.  Ronda Rousey seemed to cross the plateau from champion to cross-over star before our eyes in her record breaking 14 second submission victory over Cat Zingano.  In front of the Hollywood crowd, the main card saw finishes from names like Tony Ferguson, Alan Jouban, and Jake Ellenberger .  It was an electrified card that left the sports world buzzing.  But it wasn’t anywhere near as stacked as New York’s debut, despite delivering on the same level.

UFC 194 was another card that delivered.  The long-awaited bout between José Aldo and Conor McGregor ended in stunning fashion.  It was preceded by a battle between Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman and a fight between Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza.  Once again, that night set the bar high for the promotion.

Of course, UFC 100 may indeed live forever as the first card that was destined to be MMA’s biggest night.  It had a star unlike any the sport had before in Brock Lesnar who defeated Frank Mir in the main event.  Arguably the best fighter ever in Georges St. Pierre shut down his most threatening challenger at the time in Thiago Alves that night.  The moment that electrified the building that night was the infamous knockout by Dan Henderson over Michael Bisping.

Several cards have had moments that lived up to the hype for the promotion.  Plenty of others had memorable moments that defined the careers of several fighters.  UFC 205 certainly appears to have checked those categories, in bulk.  The anticipation and pay-off created by McGregor delivered the necessary exclamation point on the card.

Only time will tell if UFC 205 ends as the best card in MMA history.  By all accounts the card is the biggest ever in terms of numbers.  At least so far, MMA has never had a bigger night.  But, fans should be excited at the prospect of the UFC attempting to put on a card even bigger than this one.