UFC 205 headliners Conor McGregor, Eddie Alvarez begin war of words

UFC champions Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez will meet in the main event of UFC 205 on Nov. 12 in what appears to be the best card the organization has ever assembled.

The oral jabs already have started flying between McGregor and Alvarez, who were the star attractions at Tuesday’s news conference to officially announce the full card for the UFC’s first event at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“Mystic Mac predicts I’m going to KO you inside of one round,” McGregor said to Alvarez, who will defend his lightweight title for the first time against the featherweight champ.

Should McGregor fulfill his latest prophecy, he will be the first fighter to simultaneously have belts in two weight classes. BJ Penn and Randy Couture held belts in two weight classes but not at the same time.

“I’m going to wrap one around one shoulder and wrap the other around the other shoulder,” he said. “You’ll need an army to take them from me.”

UFC president Dana White said McGregor will have to give up one of the belts should he leave the cage with both so that he doesn’t keep them tied up.

Alvarez plans to make the issue moot. He said McGregor won’t take his lightweight belt and will be stripped of the featherweight title for failing to defend it.

“You’ll be beltless Nov. 12,” Alvarez said. “Beltless. You’ll have to give up the little boy belt, and you won’t have the big boy belt.”

The spirited exchanges were part of a public event at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden to unveil the full card, which features two other title fights. Officials promised one of the most stacked lineups in the history of the organization to commemorate the occasion of the UFC’s return to New York for the first time since a 1997 ban on professional mixed martial arts events was lifted this year.

Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will defend his title against Stephen Thompson, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will put the women’s strawweight belt on the line against Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

A surprise lightweight fight also was announced, as top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet Michael Johnson. That fight is particularly notable because it provides options should either McGregor or Alvarez not be able to compete.

McGregor, however, proclaimed he is now ready to take over the lightweight division after winning the 145-pound belt and competing at 170 pounds in his past two fights.

“I’m very happy with the 155-pound weight limit,” he said. “I feel like with all the divisions I ran around and ran through, 155 I feel will be the one where I take over the most.”

His inclusion came late in the process, as negotiations came down to the last few days. But in the end, he will be part of the historic card after he was pulled from UFC 200 in July over a disagreement about media obligations.

“I told the UFC to beg me, and they begged me,” McGregor said about headlining the show at Madison Square Garden. “That was all I asked.”

Well, that and a truckload of cash.

McGregor said by the time his pay-per-view cut is figured in, he will make $40 million in 2016 from two fights against Nate Diaz and the Alvarez bout.

While that figure is unconfirmed and will remain so considering the organization’s history of secrecy in regard to financial information, there is little doubt he is the UFC’s highest-paid star.

Now he finds himself topping what figures to be the UFC’s biggest card ever.

The event includes former middleweight champion Chris Weidman taking on Yoel Romero, and Las Vegan Miesha Tate, the former women’s bantamweight champ, fighting Raquel Pennington.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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