President Dana White has confirmed that MMA superstar Conor McGregor will feature in the headline bout of a stacked UFC 205 on 12 November, the company's very first show in New York since the state passed legislation to legalise the sport after a near 20-year ban. 'The Notorious', who remains featherweight champion despite having yet to defend that status, will attempt to add a second belt to his collection by challenging for the lightweight gold currently held by Eddie Alvarez.
"This is the fight the fans wanted, and I'm excited that our very first event at Madison Square Garden will be headlined by Eddie Alvarez defending the lightweight title against Conor McGregor," White revealed to ESPN. "This card has three world title fights and is the best card in UFC history."
For Alvarez, this will be the very first defence of the 155lbs title he won by upsetting Rafael dos Anjos in July. The American has been targeting a potential bout with McGregor ever since that surprise first-round victory in Las Vegas and recently called him out by confidently claiming that his future was not bright. He also insisted that the "illusion of greatness will soon be over".
McGregor was originally due to fight for the lightweight strap at UFC 196 last year, only for Dos Anjos to withdraw due to a broken left foot sustained in training. He subsequently moved up two divisions in a shock submission defeat to replacement opponent and now arch-rival Nate Diaz, but was able to successfully avenge that loss via a majority decision win at UFC 202 in August. Victory over Alvarez would make the brash Dubliner, set to enter the octagon for the third time in 2016 despite receiving a medical suspension of up to six months due to foot and ankle problems, the first fighter in UFC history to hold two championship belts concurrently.
Official confirmation of the headline bout for UFC 205 has understandably come as a bitter blow to Khabib Nurmagomedov, the undefeated Russian fighter whom White had previously suggested would likely get the chance to face Alvarez at Madison Square Garden.
Taking to Twitter to vent his fury, 'The Eagle' said: "I have two bout agreements that bull***t champ refuses to sign. I got used the whole time to make Conor and Eddie get on their knees and beg. Just for the record Alvarez and McGregor fear me I'm just a man. Your time will come to get my hands on you."
Jose Aldo will also be disappointed, with many having claimed that he would be announced as McGregor's next opponent in a rematch of that brutal, one-punch defeat in December 2015. He could presumably now face Max Holloway for the right to become interim featherweight champion. Also on the main card at UFC 205 will be Tyron Woodley's welterweight defence against Stephen Thompson, Chris Weidman vs Yoel Romero and women's straw-weight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk's clash with Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Donald Cerrone, Miesha Tate and Frankie Edgar are all set to compete on the undercard.