By Andy Young
This weekend sees UFC 205 head to New York City for the first time and Fox Sports Venues across Australia are expecting bumper crowds for the contest.
With three title bouts this was always going to be a big event, but with one of those bouts seeing UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor taking on Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez for the latter’s title, there is an extra dimension to this fight card.
Fox Sports Venues national pay-per-view manager, Japhy Duldig, told TheShout that venues showing the fight can expect a rush as fans come in to watch the fight.
“UFC 205 is arguably the biggest and best card the UFC have ever put on,” Duldig said. “With this being their first event at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York they have assembled three title fights including a mega-fight between Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez and Irish super-star Conor McGregor.
“Australia loves Conor and every time he fights we see a huge spike in interest and subscriptions. He brings not just Irish fans, but many casual sports viewers in to pubs and clubs around the country to watch him fight.
He added: “The card for UFC 205 is huge with over five hours of UFC action across FOX SPORTS and MAIN EVENT pay-per-view. With the UFC 205 prelims beginning at midday AEDT on FOX SPORTS ONE we expect many fans to come in early to see watch these fights.
“Venues should be prepared for a lunch-rush in the Eastern states as fans come in early to get a good spot and enjoy the day! The pay-per-view card begins at 2pm AEDT with six fights on the card including three World Title fights.
“This is one of the events that transcends just the UFC fan; groups of friends and families will make a day of it and enjoy seeing their favourite UFC athletes. By the time Conor and Eddie walk out venues will be packed with eager fans cheering them on.”
Kaine Bayfield of Bayfield Hotels told TheShout that he is expecting big numbers at the Light Brigade, which was recently named as the runner-up in Best Sports Venue category at the 2016 Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA).
“UFC has become one of the more popular sports for us at both Dee Why Hotel and the Light Brigade. It draws huge crowds in on a day and time we are usually quiet which is fantastic,” Bayfield said.
“We are expecting to be at capacity on Sunday at the Light Brigade as McGregor has become the most popular and entertaining fighter with a big cult following.”
A spokesperson for Solotel, whose venue The Sheaf just edged out the Light Brigade to win the Best Sports Venue at ALIA, said they were also expecting big crowds.
"We have seen some great traction for UFC in general however there is no doubt Conor is definitely a drawcard and therefore brings in a bigger crowd. With this being such a big event in general we are definitely expecting a high turnout and a great day overall." the spokesperson told TheShout.
As well as McGregor and Alvarez UFC 205’s title bouts see Tyron Woodley defend his Welterweight title against Stephen Thompson, while the third title fight is a Women's Strawweight Championship bout between the current champion Joanna JÄ™drzejczyk and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.