So MMA is now legal in New York. In the words of Bruce Buffer, “It’s time.” In the words of Michael Buffer, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”
The UFC stands to make a lot of money with shows in The Big Apple and at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.
The list of great fights at the Garden is endless: Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis. Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Hulk Hogan vs. The Iron Sheik.
Who’s next? The UFC has several fights in mind, but here’s our take on the best fights the UFC should book New York.
5. Conor McGregor vs. Frankie Edgar
Now I know New York has a large Irish population, but methinks Frankie Edgar would turn Conor McGregor heel really quickly in MSG. The New Jersey-native would be more popular than Kim Kardashian on Instagram. We’d have dueling chants of “Let’s go Conor” and “Let’s go Frankie,” all culminating in a fantastic ending with someone tapping or getting knocked out. What more could you ask for in MSG?
4. CM Punk vs. Mickey Gall
Let’s face it. Madison Square Garden is synonymous with professional wrestling. So where better than MSG to see CM Punk get his lights punched out? It wouldn’t be the first time Punk “put over” someone in New York. And it wouldn’t be the first time he won a match in MSG. In fact, Punk has competed more than a dozen times in Madison Square Garden and would be the most experienced person on the UFC roster to fight in New York. And make no mistake about it, New York would be a CM Punk crowd. If Punk fights in New York, you’d have 20,000 people screaming “CM Punk, CM Punk, CM Punk,” and it might be just enough to wake up the sleeping giant inside the straight-edge superstar.
3. Chris Weidman vs. Jon Jones
Let’s presume that Chris Weidman actually trains and takes Luke Rockhold seriously when the two collide at UFC 199 at the Inglewood Forum (really, the Forum, what is this 1988? They don’t even have luxury suites there). Let’s presume Weidman performs well or actually defeats the UFC’s most handsome fighter. What about a “dream match” between Weidman and Jon Jones, two New York-born fighters? Even if Jones doesn’t wipe the mat with Daniel Cormier at UFC 197, a Jones vs. Weidman match would do great business; a battle between hometown boys who not too long ago were world champions. Talk about heat in the arena. And what if Jones beats Cormier and Weidman beats Rockhold? Why couldn’t that fight happen toward the end of 2016? Conor McGregor has already proven that when it comes to making money, weight classes don’t matter.
2. Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
This fight would be great anywhere — Madison Square Garden, Las Vegas, Australia (wait, scratch that last one). To see these two queens of MMA fight in MSG would be the ultimate solidification of women’s MMA. Who would have thought a few years ago that two women could main event a show at Madison Square Garden? It would be a testament to how far women’s MMA has come. True, Ronda Rousey will probably send shards of Miesha Tate‘s bone flying over the New York Knicks banners after she taps her to the armbar, but she would have done that in Las Vegas anyway. The first female fight in New York has to involve Rousey, the innovator of women’s MMA in the UFC.
1. Robbie Lawler vs. Georges St-Pierre
Short of signing Fedor Emelianenko to fight Cain Velasquez, this is the biggest fight the UFC could ever book. The man who walked away from the sport as champion, against a guy who won the title he vacated, walking through the welterweight division’s top fighters.
Georges St-Pierre is the world’s most famous fighter. Robbie Lawler turned his career around and went from average to elite. Lawler could probably knock out a hippopotamus with one left hook. GSP can take you down and ground-and-pound you. This fight also makes sense because the fans would respect both of them. MSG fans are smart and knowledgeable. Unlike some other fights, they would know this is not a gimmick fight, but a battle between two champions, one of the past and one of the present. New York fans would respect both of these guys and it’s exactly the type of fight they want to see. Two real men, fighting for dominance, in front of the smartest crowd in the world. The two best welterweights in the world fighting in New York MMA heaven.