Image: UFC / Zuffa LLC
Madison Square Garden has been hallowed ground for combat sports since the first televised prize boxing fight was shown in color live from the arena in 1954. Prior to this, the likes of Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, and Muhammad Ali had made MSG their home within the boxing universe as the Garden was and still is the primary center of historical fights.
When the New York State Athletic Commission legalized mixed martial arts within the state, MSG welcomed the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) with open arms. And since 2016, the Garden has added a long list of legendary fights to an already extensive one.
The UFC was absent from MSG due to the covid ongoing pandemic. Still, in November 2021, the Garden returned with a double championship headliner featuring Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, Rose Namajunas, and Weili Zhang. We can only spectate, but it’s almost guaranteed that the promotion is preparing for a 2022 return to New York’s historic venue. This time, the event will be supported by the total legality of sports wagering.
Since The Big Apple joined the long list of U.S. states to legalize in-person, and online sports wagering, promo codes in New York sports betting have been rampantly available in their promotion to offer fight fans the best possible deals and odds. When the UFC returns in 2022, you can be sure the wagering revolution will play a massive role, adding to the atmosphere and excitement of a live MMA event from Madison Square Garden.
In light of MSG’s return to the UFC schedule in November 2021 post-pandemic and beyond, join us in reminiscing on the most spectacular UFC bouts that have taken place at Madison Square Garden.
UFC 205: Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez (Nov. 12, 2016)
The face of the company, the Irishman who assisted in propelling professional mixed martial arts to heights some believed it would never reach. When the state of New York commissioned MMA events, it was a no-brainer that Conor McGregor would headline the first event at UFC 205.
In the hunt for his second championship in a higher weight class, McGregor made MMA history at MSG knocking out Eddie Alvarez in round two.
The first UFC event hosted in New York had to be unique, and it was the second time in the company’s history that champions from different weight classes fought for the same title.
McGregor lifted the lightweight championship and became the first fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two titles simultaneously – referring to himself as “The Champ-Champ”.
The entire UFC 205 event was historic in itself, as a plethora of well-known talent stacked the card from the preliminary bouts right up until the three scheduled championship matchups.
UFC 217: The Return of Georges St-Pierre (Nov. 4, 2017)
The UFC’s second visit to Madison Square Garden was up against stiff competition if it wanted to top the previous year’s 205 pay-per-view. But who better than to hype up the New York locals than the legend himself, Georges St-Pierre?
GSP had been absent from the octagon for four years as he attempted to win another championship but in a higher weight class where he’d once competed. And, of course, that’s precisely what the G.O.A.T of MMA did.
UFC 217 joined UFC 205 and UFC 33 as the lone pay-per-view events to feature three title fights. However, the key difference was that all three champions lost the gold around their waist for the first time in history.
Notable Mentions: UFC 244
At UFC 244 on Nov 2, 2019, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz made history in the Garden when they competed for the first-ever “BMF” (Baddest Motherfu**er) title. The event set the second-best MMA gate record in New York, falling just behind UFC 205.
Barely conscious on his feet, the toughness of Nate Diaz was enough to prove he was worthy of the “BMF” title as the ringside doctor was required to stop the fight. Masvidal was awarded the TKO victory in another night of historic matchmaking at MSG.
UFC 280 or UFC 281: November 2022 at MSG
The UFC has never scheduled their pay-per-views at Madison Square Garden outside the month of November, and we should expect this tradition to continue in 2022.
Whether it’s UFC 280 or 281 – depending on the promotion’s PPV activity – you can guarantee another historic night of fights at Madison Square Garden.