The UFC’s best fight card of the year is here, and it’s actually intact.
In a year full of fights falling apart at the last second, it’s about time that fight fans get to see some of the best in the world finally enter the Octagon and put their titles on the line. Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, UFC 217 will host three title fights, including the return of UFC legend Georges St-Pierre.
GSP will face off against current Middleweight champion, Michael Bisping, in what will be the former welterweight champion’s first fight in four years.
But even though that fight is considered the main event of the evening, it might not even be the best fight on the main card. That’s how stacked it is.
Here’s a full look at the night’s fight-card schedule, including updated odds for each fight.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark:
Main Card (PPV at 10 p.m. ET)
- Michael Bisping (+105, bet $100 to win $105) vs. Georges St-Pierre (-125, bet $125 to win $100): Middleweight title fight
- Cody Garbrandt (-200) vs. TJ Dillashaw (+160): Bantamweight title fight
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-600) vs. Rose Namajunas (+400): Women’s Strawweight title fight
- Jorge Masvidal (+155) vs. Stephen Thompson (-190): Welterweight
- Paulo Costa (-310) vs. Johny Hendricks (+240): Middleweight
Prelims (Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)
- Joe Duffy (-160) vs. James Vick (+130): Lightweight
- Walt Harris (-360) vs. Mark Godbeer (+270): Heavyweight
- Corey Anderson (+125) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (-155): Light Heavyweight
- Randy Brown (-110) vs. Mickey Gall (-120): Welterweight
Prelims (Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. ET)
- Curtis Blaydes (-360) vs. Aleksei Oleinik (+260): Heavyweight
- Ricardo Ramos (-200) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (+160): Bantamweight
Joanna Jedrzejczk vs. Rose Namajunas
History is on the line for Joanna, as she can tie Ronda Rousey’s record of six title defenses with a victory at UFC 217, while recording her ninth straight victory.
But in this instance, history takes a back step. All we care about is finally seeing Jedrzejczyk back inside the Octagon against Thug Rose.
On paper, this is the champ’s fight to lose. Rose is too young, inexperienced and has never fought someone like Joanna. Having said that, Rose does offer one thing that the champ can’t prepare for: the unpredictable.
Namajunas has submitted her opponents in various ways from all sorts of angles. Getting Joanna on the mat will be a challenge, but never say never. For Jedrzejczyk, she’s easily the most skilled female striker in the game and pound-for-pound, regardless of gender, in the world.
During Thursday’s press conference, Joanna told her audience what to expect on fight night, and who are we to disagree with her?
The boogey woman is, indeed, coming, and she’s going to take out Rose with a third-round TKO finish.
Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw
For all the cringeworthy trash talk that’s been surrounding this fight over the past six months, this is still one hell of a fight that could easily take Fight of the Night honors.
The bad blood, the Team Alpha Male drama—this fight has it all, and the UFC has struck gold having it as the night’s co-main event. Garbrandt, as we’ve seen during his brief-yet-meteoric rise in the UFC, has the kiss of death in his hands and boxing skills that would give Conor McGregor a run for his money.
For being such a hot head outside of the Octagon, his patience with his strikes and his fluid footwork once the fight starts is surprising, and it showed how much Dominick Cruz underestimated his skills when Garbrandt won the bantamweight title with a masterclass performance last year.
We know what Garbrandt is capable of inside the Octagon, but the real question surrounding this fight is how much Dillashaw has improved since the last time we’ve seen him fight for a title.
After losing his title to Cruz, Dillashaw went on a mission to become one of the most complete fighters at 135 pounds in the world, even if it meant leaving Team Alpha Male to do so.
In his last performance against John Lineker, Dillashaw looked—for lack of a better word—incredible. If that version of Dillashaw has improved even more since then, it could be a long night for Garbrandt. But as we all know when it comes to those four-ounce gloves, it only takes one punch.
I anticipate Dillashaw showing Garbrandt different looks, even looking to shoot for a couple takedowns to take away Garbrandt’s advantage on the feet.
Dillashaw will win the first round handedly, but Garbrandt will soon figure out his timing and solve the puzzle, allowing him to unload a right-hand bomb that sends Dillashaw to the canvas in the second round. A little ground-and-pound should be enough for the referee to stop the fight and give the champ his first title defense of his career.
Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre
Yeah, this card just gets better and better as the night goes on.
GSP might not have been the most entertaining fighter when the history books are written, but no one can deny his wrestling skill set and fight IQ. As for Bisping, when have you ever been bored watching The Count inside of the Octagon? Even if he does get viciously knocked out a la Dan Henderson.
In many ways, this is a bizarre matchup. Not only is GSP fighting at 185 pounds for the first time in his career, he’s fighting one of the best strikers the UFC has ever had in Bisping, who owns the record for most significant strikes landed, most wins inside of the Octagon and most fights.
He’s coming off a war against Henderson and a knockout victory over Luke Rockhold, and now Bisping has his eyes set on putting himself in the GOAT conversation with a win over GSP. The game plan is rather simple for Bisping, who wants to keep this fight on the feet as much as he can.
After all, he did say his greatest fear is getting cuddled to death by GSP yesterday, and he’s not exaggerating.
GSP’s wrestling and jiu-jitsu is world-class and he would be foolish to try and exchange with Bisping on the feet, even if he does have legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach in his corner.
GSP may have made the 185-pound weight limit easily, but how comfortable is he fighting a five-round fight at that weight against a guy like Bisping, who never seems to slow down?
The former 170-pound champ bit off more than he can chew with this fight, and it will show after a strong opening couple of minutes where GSP looks like his old self until the adrenaline wears off. The extra muscle and weight he’s carrying around will work against him as his movement slows down and his breathing becomes heavy.
Bisping will use his cardio to his advantage and load on the pressure with well-executed combinations, backing GSP up against the cage. From there, Bisping will have his way with the former champ, ultimately getting the finish with a second-round TKO after GSP goes down to the mat and covers up, waiting for the referee to stop the fight.
With the loss, it’s safe to say that this will be the final time (for real this time) that fight fans will see GSP fight in the UFC.
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