The UFC produced one of the best PPV main cards in MMA history in UFC 217
It will be hard to top UFC 217, which had three great title changes along with the return of a legend
After the massive success of UFC 205, the thought was that there was no way the UFC could top that. Back in New York City, a lot of pressure was on the companies shoulders. Well, Dana White is laughing himself to the bank, as UFC 217 did just that. History was made once again inside Madison Square Garden as three titles changed hands, the last one won by a returning Georges St-Pierre. The first win in over four years for “Rush” was a true moment to remember. It was a dramatic evening that was filled with enough shock and awe to last a lifetime in the MMA world.
There is a lot to discuss after an epic UFC 217. Let’s break it down from the bottom to the top.
The event itself had it’s ups and downs in the beginning when UFC 217 started around 6:30-7:00pm EST. Several fights ended in dramatic fashion, like Ovince Saint Preux’s victory over Corey Anderson. OSP has proved he can take down his opponents in any way, whether it’s by the the Von Flue choke or his kicks. He used the latter on Anderson, striking him down with a sick spinning kick to the temple. The victory for OSP (22-10) gives him just cause to be a serious contender for the Light Heavyweight Title.
Besides that fight, the prelims were pretty tame but interesting at the same time. Curtis “Razor” Blaydes defeated Oleksiv Oliynk after the doctor stopped the fight. Blaydes was almost disqualified for what seemed like an errant kick to the face, but got the win. New York’s Randy Brown got the win over New Jersey’s Mickey Gall, ending his undefeated streak at four. To cap it all off, James Vick beat Joseph Duffy via TKO in an entertaining affair between to brawlers. In convenient timing, Vick put Duffy down just a few minutes before the PPV began.
From there, everything changed. Are you ready for some excitement?
The first two fights of the main card were solid bouts. In what seemed like an inevitable result, Paulo Costa (11-0) beat Johny Hendricks (18-8) via TKO in the second round. Hendricks looked good in the first but could not bring any momentum with him in the second. Once on top of the world, Hendricks has gone on a 1-5 fight streak skid. Does he have one more fight in him or is this the last time we see “Big Rigg” in an octagon? On the other hand, the 26-year old Costa proclaimed himself to be next big Brazilian star in MMA, and it’s not that far off to say that. Costa challenged Derek Brunson after the fight, which would be an extremely interesting bout between two of UFC’s hottest stars.
Next up was Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who defeated Jorge Masvidal in an energized bout that was far different compared to his rematch with Tyron Woodley at UFC 209. Thompson’s (14-2-1) kicks were smooth and his strike game was strong. He beat Masvidal (32-13) via UD and was already thinking about Woodley after the fight. So far, two big challenges came out of UFC 217.
This is where the momentum shifted for UFC 217. Rose Namajunas walked into Madison Square Garden and acted like she did all throughout the week, calm and collected. She used that to her advantage as she shocked the world by defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk to become the new UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion. The fight only lasted one round as Rose (7-3) dominated Joanna (14-1) with strikes that knocked her down twice. The second time she was down, Rose rocked her hard enough to the point that Joanna tapped to the tags. The Garden exploded, and we just reached the halfway point. When previewing this fight, I mentioned that Rose should not have been underestimated, as Joanna was pulling a Ronda Rousey to Rose’s Holly Holm. As you can tell, the difference a few minutes can make is staggering.
Next up was the blood fight between former Alpha Male teammates Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw for the UFC Bantamweight Title. Just like Joanna, Garbrandt was doing most of the trash-talking, trying to get under Dillashaw’s skin. The fight was as physical as expected, with both fighters landed vicious punches. It was the calmer Dillashaw (15-3) who ended up landing a stiff kick to Garbandt’s (11-1) temple before knocking him senseless to end the fight in the second. You could almost see Garbrandt’s eyes go into the back of his head. Another new champion was crowned and the crowd was even louder. A great moment that eased Dillashaw’s mind a bit. Dana White later confirmed that TJ will be getting a shot at Demetrious Johnson and the UFC Flyweight Title. Not too shabby.
There was no way this night could get better right? The main event immediately answered that question. After a four-year absence, Georges St-Pierre returned to the octagon and defeated Michael Bisping for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Like the other former champions, Bisping did most of the trash-talking. GSP (26-2) looked sharp in his return, taking down Bisping (30-8) early while also connecting on a few strikes. Bisping did bloody up GSP a bit and looked to take advantage of the targeted area. GSP would not give up so easily however, and while he looked tired he made sure to do the same to Bisping.
GSP then rocked the champion with a shot the face in the third round, and went for the ground and pound. When Bisping wouldn’t give up, GSP went for the rear-naked choke, and while Bisping didn’t tap, he was out for the count. At this point, the roof almost came off of The Garden. With that, GSP was on top of the world once again.
A common theme happened tonight: The former champions owned up to their losses. After the event ended, Joanna spoke to the media, trying not to compare herself to Rousey in any way. It takes a lot to do what she did after her amazing title run and undefeated streak ended. That will not stop her however from coming back ASAP to try and reclaim the title. The same can be said for Cody Garbrandt and Michael Bisping, who both praised the work ethic of both fighters and didn’t count themselves out. It was a wonderful display of showing how humble they were, hopefully setting a precedent for the future.
For about 40+ minutes, The Garden was the place to be. Dramatic title changes along with epic fights around it helped cement UFC 217 as one of the best events the UFC has ever had. There’s something about New York that just makes magic happen. It will be tough to top this event, but you just know Dana White will try his hardest. Just like for the title winners, UFC 217 is a night MMA fans will never forget.