The Ultimate Fighting Championship wanted to make history with their first-ever event at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and they certainly put on a show to remember just blocks away from the bright lights of Times Square and Broadway.
During Saturday’s UFC 205 event, the world’s leading mixed martial arts organization packed 20,427 fight fans into Madison Square Garden and totaled $17.7 million in ticket revenue, easily breaking any previous records for gate sales.
“If you look at how many people were here from different countries and different parts of the United States, they’re staying in hotels, they’re eating in restaurants every night, they’re shopping in stores,” UFC President Dana White said. “The economic impact for the city of New York was outrageous.”
The foremost fight organization took center stage at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden, for UFC 205, with a trio of championship fights at the top of the card in its New York City debut.
After preliminary and undercard bouts that could have been placed on main cards of other shows very easily, the UFC had its woman’s straw-weight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, defend against fellow Polish sensation Karolina Kowalkiewicz, followed up by Tyron Woodley putting his welterweight crown on the line against Stephen Thompson.
Following retentions by Jedrzejczyk and Woodley via unanimous decision and majority draw, respectively, in each of the first two main-event fights, featherweight king Conor McGregor knocked out lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez to become the UFC’s first-ever simultaneous two-division titlist.
“I told the fighters I’ve done everything I can do. All the bells and whistles, stuff that I’ve done, it’s up to you guys,” White said. “They went in and delivered.”
And White believes the UFC 205 show should silence those who spent years blocking MMA’s legalization in the state of New York.
“It wasn’t ignorant,” White said. “Dirty politics is what it was. Everybody knows the story. For those of you that don’t, the Fertittas, my old partners, own the fourth-largest gaming company in Nevada, and the Las Vegas Culinary Union is what kept us out of here and Shelly Silver. That’s really why we weren’t here.
“On a lighter note, because of all the eight years of dirty politics that went on, I would like to thank the Las Vegas Culinary Union for spending their members’ dues to help make this the biggest night ever in UFC history.”