UFC 217 – BREAKDOWN
By: MJ Adelman
The UFC returns to Madison Square Garden arena Saturday night for UFC 217. First of all, if you are not excited for this fight card, you are probably not a real fight fan. The main card has three championship belts up for grabs and the main event is the return of GSP to the UFC for the first time in four years. Mix in some good prelim fights (including my buddy James Vick who is the last prelim fight) and this is one of the best fight cards we have seen this year in my opinion. OK, so let’s get it started.
EARLY PRELIMINARY FIGHTS
Are live only on UFC Fightpass at 6pm Central time and feature two bouts:
1. Bantamweights: Ricardo Lucas Ramos (10-1) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (7-0)
2. Heavyweights: Curtis Blaydes (8-1) vs. Alexey Oleynik (55-10-1)
MIDDLE PRELIMINARY FIGHTS
Are live and free only on Fox Sports 1 at 7pm Central time and feature four bouts:
1. Welterweights: Randy Brown (9-2) vs. Mickey Gall (4-0)
2. Light Heaveyweights: Corey Anderson (9-3) vs OSP (21-10)
3. Heavyweights: Mark Godbeer (12-3) vs. Walt Harris (10-5)
4. Lightweights: Joseph Duffy (16-2) vs. James Vick (11-1)
Some commentary on the final prelim fight. I flew out to Vegas for the Ultimate Fighter Live (season 15) finale because my good friend Chris “Bad Boy” Tickle was a contestant on that season. Chris ended up losing to Daron Cruickshank via unanimous decision, but later we met up with the rest of the contestants including James Vick, who was cool and real as shit. That is why I call him my buddy, even though I am sure he wouldn’t remember who the hell I was.
MAIN EVENT FIGHTS
UFC 217 is live on Pay per view starting at 9pm Central time and features five bouts:
Middleweights: Paulo Henrique Costa (10-0) vs. Johny Hendricks (18-7)
ODDS: Costa (-260), Hendricks (+220)
You know you are in for a good night of fights when Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Costa is the “curtain jerker” fight of the night. It is interesting to me to see Johny Hendricks a +220 underdog here. I would say Costa is a favorite for sure, but people are sleeping a little bit on Johny Hendricks. True that he has not looked as good as he did when he fought GSP the last time GSP got into the Octagon, but if you don’t think he can put anyone in the middleweight division out with a well placed left, you are fooling yourself. Overall I agree that Costa should be able to get the job done, but look for this to be a fun and competitive fight.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Paulo Henrique Costa def Johny Hendricks via decision.
Welterweights: Jorge Masvidal (32-12) vs. Stephen Thompson (13-2-1)
ODDS: Thompson (-185), Masvidal (+160)
Another great fight in the STACKED welterweight division. This has fight of the night written all over it for me. Look for a back and forth stand up battle that should be fun to watch. Both men have the ability to end this fight in the blink of an eye. Masvidal is a stud, but I see Thompson being under valued here coming off of two fights with the Champ Tyron Woodley where he took him to a draw and then lost the last fight. I see Thompson using his range and out striking Masvidal in a three round war.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Stephen Thompson def Jorge Masvidal via decision
UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0) vs. Rose Namajunas (6-3)
ODDS: Jedrzejczyk (-750), Namajunas (+525)
I have been a huge Rose “Thug” Namajunas fan since she came through the Ultimate Fighter season 20. No one gives Rose a chance here and that is with good reason in that Joanna has been on a terror and has made good fighters look bad while she has been doing it. But there is one thing I don’t think people are taking into account, and that is the heart and determination of Rose, she will never quit fighting as long as she is breathing and I think that is why I am going to throw this out as a major upset. Not to take anything away from the champ, she is a legit killer, I am just feeling this one. I see this fight going down as a beating for rose for the first couple rounds and then her being able to survive and pull off something miraculous.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Rose Namajunas def Joanna Jedrzejczyk via submission in round #4.
UFC Bantamweight Championship
Cody Garbrandt (11-0) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (14-3)
ODDS: Garbrandt (-175), Dillashaw (+155)
The last time out for both fighters was at UFC 207 at MSG at the end of 2016, where TJ beat John Lineker and Cody beat Dominick Cruz. I bring that up, because two of the best performances I have EVER seen were these 2 fighting on the same card on the same night. TJ won a unanimous decision over Lineker using footwork and movement that was on another level. Cody did to Dominick Cruz what Dom has been doing to people his whole career, using footwork and cutting angles etc.. To be short, he Dominick Cruz’d Dominick Cruz. So when this fight was made, it was immediately circled on my calendar as a must see. So, how does this fight go? If I didn’t see Cody dismantle Dom with my own eyes I would not have believed it, I knew Cody was good, but when you can make Dom look bad we have to start talking about being on another level. I believe Cody is there now. I see this going the same way for Cody as it did against Dom. TJ will be game, as he always is, but I see him getting beat up and stopped.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Cody Garbrandt def TJ Dillashaw by KO/TKO round 3
UFC Middleweight Championship
Michael Bisping (30-7) vs. Georges St. Pierre (25-2)
ODDS: Bisping (-110), St. Pierre (-110)
I have heard so many people trash this fight for whatever reason I won’t get into. GSP has been out for four years at this point, and I think people have forgotten what he was able to do back then. He cleared out the welterweight division twice and retired as champion, so naturally when GSP comes back he gets a title shot even though this will be up a division at 185. Michael Bisping scored a knockout over a cocky Luke Rockhold who had his hands down not respecting the power of Bisping, and Mike put him to sleep. So, throw out all the BS about Bisping not being a real champion and GSP not deserving a title shot first time back, to me that is all stupid. This is a good match up, Bisping will be the bigger fighter and look to keep GSP on the feet, GSP will be smaller (and hopefully quicker) fighter and will want to take Mike down, although the will not be afraid to stand and trade with him either. Throw in the fact that “ring rust” is real and counter that with the reports that GSP has stayed in great shape and has never stopped training even though he has been out of competition, and really anything can happen with this fight, and I am not going to miss it. Since I have to make a prediction, I will go with GSP grinding down Bisping like he used to down at 170.
OFFICIAL DECISION: Georges St. Pierre def Michael Bisping via decision