UFC 205 PREVIEW: Peterson’s fight-by-fight preview of Saturday’s show headlined by Alvarez vs. McGregor, Woodley vs. Thompson

By Matthew Peterson, MMATorch contributor

It is finally upon us.  It’s the biggest card that the UFC has ever put on and that includes UFC 100 and 200.  This card is more stacked than any other card ever and you don’t need me to tell you how excited you should be.  There are three, count them, three, title fights on the main card as well as Cowboy Cerrone, Miesha Tate, and Chris Weidman all competing as well.  The prelims are headlined by Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens, a fight that could have headlined its own card.  As always, stick with MMATorch for all your fight week news, previews and predictions leading up to this epic beast of an event. 

Eddie Alvarez vs. Conor McGregor (155 lbs)

We have the first champion vs. champion bout since GSP took on B.J. Penn in 2009.  Unlike Penn and GSP, neither McGregor nor Alvarez have defended their belts yet.  Only the lightweight belt is on the line and McGregor will retain the featherweight belt regardless of the outcome.  Alvarez won his title as a huge underdog against Rafael dos Anjos and used his speed and power to TKO the champion in the first round.  There has been tons of hype around Alvarez his whole career and despite his wins against Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis, it didn’t pay off until the dos Anjos win.  Alvarez has clear KO power in his hands, he has speed and he has strong wrestling.  The problem was that he seemed hesitant to pull the trigger until he fought for the title.  He has a bad habit of getting dropped at least once per fight and while he is quick to recover, it is not a habit he wants to carry over when he goes against McGregor.  McGregor is a masterful striker who has amazing footwork and tremendous speed in both countering and attacking forward.  It’s doubtful that he’ll look to grapple with Alvarez but will instead look to stand and counter when Alvarez overcommits on big punches.  To win, Alvarez needs to pick his shots and utilize his wrestling where he may hold the advantage over McGregor.  I’m an Alvarez fan, I’ll admit it, but McGregor roared back after the Diaz loss and I think it will continue this weekend.  McGregor via 3rd round TKO.

Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson (170 lbs)

I was one of the many who were unimpressed by Woodley’s early fights in Strikeforce.  He seemed like a wrestler that rode out decisions based on control, which is why I was blown away when he demolished Hieron, Koscheck and Kim.  His KO of Robbie Lawler showed how much power he truly possessed and his speed cannot be overlooked.  On the flipside, Stephen Thompson came into the UFC as a karate fighter who was quickly humbled by Matt Brown but stormed back to win his last seven fights.  Huge wins over Johny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald sealed his place as a title contender and his spot against Woodley this weekend is well deserved.  I see this fight going much like Woodley vs Rory MacDonald.  Thompson, despite being known primarily as a striker, has strong takedown defense as well as a good sense of range.  Thompson should be able to use his movement to avoid any of Woodley’s big punches and be able to defend any takedowns coming his way.  Woodley may shock the world and find a way to land a big shot on Thompson but I can’t see it that way.  Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (115 lbs)

Both women are coming into this bout undefeated in their professional careers and as they say, “someone’s 0 has got to go.”  Joanna is one of the most dominant female champions we’ve ever seen at this point.  She is a vicious striker who utilizes elbows just as well as punches and has carved up the competition to this point.  Karolina is a very solid fighter who has a great control over all aspects of the game but this fight seems like it might be a bit too soon for her.  Karolina’s biggest win so far is her UD win over Rose Namajunas and if nothing else, she will be a big test for the champion.  With Joanna’s move to American Top Team to further her knowledge of the fight game, this is her fight to lose.  Joanna Champion via 3rd round TKO.

Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero (185 lbs)

Weidman returns from losing his title to Luke Rockhold while Romero makes his way back after serving a six month suspension due to tainted supplements.  The winner of this fight is expected to be on the shortlist for a title shot.  Both men come from a strong wrestling background but at this current point, Romero seems to have the superior record.  Weidman had strong wins over Anderson Silva, Machida and Belfort, but the further decline of all three men has weakened those wins over time.  Romero has wins over Tim Kennedy, Derek Brunson and Jacare, all three still highly competitive in the UFC still.  Weidman has great coaching in Ray Longo and will look to use footwork and countering to avoid Romero’s flurries and power wrestling.  Romero will look to overwhelm Weidman, either on the feet or be dragging him down to drop heavy punches.  I’m going against my gut here and picking Weidman on this one.  I think he roars back from the title loss and uses a superior gameplan to outpoint Romero.  Chris Weidman via UD.

Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum (170 lbs)

Cerrone looks to continue his winning streak at welterweight while Gastelum looks to build off his win Johny Hendricks.  Cerrone has looked amazing at welterweight and no longer suffers from the difficult weight cut and slow starts that plagued him at lightweight.  Weight issues and poor gameplans have stalled Gastelum along the way but he has had flashes of greatness that may still lead him to be a truly great fighter.  Gastelum’s overall game has progressed greatly since his time on TUF and the win over Hendricks puts him in the Top 10 in his division.  Still, this is Cerrone’s fight to lose and his experience will be his biggest asset to winning.  Both men hold wins over Rick Story but Cerrone absolutely destroyed him with his pinpoint striking and I see this fight going the same way.  Gastelum will keep it competitive for a round before Cerrone starts to zero in with punches and kicks.  Cowboy via 2nd round submission.

Miesha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington (135 lbs)

Miesha Tate lost her bantamweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 and looks to get a win back against the surging Raquel Pennington.  Pennington is currently on a three fight win streak but Miesha Tate will be the biggest test of her career so far.  Pennington has a respectable 8-5 record but has a history of falling short against the upper echelon in the division.  She has losses to Holly Holm and Cat Zingano and it is Tate’s fight to lose here.  Pennington has talents in all areas but Tate’s wrestling and submissions will be the difference.  Tate will look to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible and beat up Pennington before looking for submissions.  This is all Tate, all night.  Miesha Tate via UD. 

NOW CHECK OUT A ROUNDTABLE ON UFC 205: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1): Outside of the UFC 205 main event, what fight are you most looking forward to at UFC 205 and why?

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