On Saturday, November 12, 2016, the Big Apple finally welcomed mixed martial arts back to the city by hosting the historic UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. After nearly 20 years of the MMA ban, the ruling was at last overturned and fight fans were ecstatic. For UFC mega-fans worldwide, the monumental fight card was enough to hype them up. For New Yorkers, the chance to host the event on home turf was historic. In fact, UFC President Dana White referred to UFC 205 as the “biggest fight card” in the history of the organization.
The records it set would soon show the truth behind this statement.
If there had only been the headline fight, Alvarez vs. McGregor, UFC fans would have been more than excited, but the prelims and other main card fights proved to make this event every bit as big as Dana White claimed it would be. Needless to say, the city was aglow with party bus service and taxis as fans celebrated all weekend.
Despite some last minute changes, the stacked Fox Sports 1 preliminary card featured:
Frankie Edgar (winner) vs. Jeremy Stevens
Khabib Nurmagomedov (winner) vs. Michael Johnson
Tim Boetsch (winner) vs. Rafael Natal
Vincente Luque (winner) vs. Belal Muhammad
All eyes, however, were on the main event, the McGregor vs. Alvarez fight. The feisty Irishman UFC fans love to hate and hate to love proved that he has incredible heart taking his UFC lightweight title in the second round by TKO. McGregor’s decisive victory crowned him the very first UFC fighter ever to hold two titles at the same time. This win in the lightweight division added to his existing title in the featherweight division as well.
McGregor wasn’t the only to set records on that epic Saturday.
The weigh-ins for UFC 205 set the highest record of attendance by 15,480 spectators. The longstanding UFC mixed martial arts gate receipt record was shattered by Madison Square Garden’s $17,700,000. This was also the highest ever venue record for Madison Square Garden. When you consider the amazing events that Madison Square Garden has housed over the past decades, that’s no small feat.
In addition, the televised prelims on Fox Sports 1 set a record for the most watched UFC pay-per-view prelims in the stations history for specifically male viewers ages 18 to 49, and the general audiences of 18 to 49 as well.
On the social media spectrum, records too were broken. The event received 14 billion impressions via social media which also set a UFC record. It didn’t stop there however. Record breaking merchandise and retail sales have also made UFC an event that will be tough to beat.
Prior to airing these historic prelims, UFC’s �Fighting for History’ amped up fight fans and became the most-watched preview show ever in UFC history.
McGregor has inspired a new round of UFC fans. His trash-talking, yet strangely likable behavior, has earned him a place in UFC fan conversations around the world. Thousands turn out for his fights, wrapping themselves in the Irish flag and cheering this lightweight on. The crowd at the Garden didn’t disappoint. Fans by the thousands reveled in his historic dual title victory. Many party bus service companies saw their biggest numbers yet as fans revealed in the thrill of the greatest UFC event of all time.
New Yorkers and UFC fans alike couldn’t have planned a great return to MMA for the state after the nearly 20-year ban was finally lifted. The vote was overturned in March 2016 and with New York’s return to the MMA scene, the state now joins the other 49 that allow and regulate mixed martial arts events.