UFC 217 Revisited
By Jack Maher
UFC 217 from Madison Square Garden had a high standard to live up to following the success of the UFC’s first event in the famous arena the year previous.
Fans wondered if UFC 217 would be able to capture the same magic as UFC 205, and the event went down as one of the best in the company’s history.
Taking place on 4/11/17, the card was topped by three world championship bouts.
The main event of the evening was a middleweight championship bout, with Michael Bisping putting his belt on the line against returning legend and former welterweight champion George St-Pierre.
The prelims of the event weren’t stacked with massive stars, but did feature impressive stoppage wins for James Vick and Ovince Saint-Preux. Mickey Gall took his first professional loss at the hands of Randy Brown and Curtis Blaydes bested Aleksei Oleinik on the Fightpass prelims.
Paulo Costa took on the veteran Johnny Hendricks to open the main card, with the young Brazilian prospect looking to add a well known name to his resume.
Hendricks on the other hand was looking to refind the form he had shown in his prime down at welterweight, where he briefly held the world title, but after a number of losses and struggles to make weight forced ‘Bigg Rigg’ to make the move north to middleweight.
Costa proved to be too big, too powerful, and at this stage of their respective careers, likely more motivated to get the victory and finished Hendricks with strikes in the second round to extend his record to 11-0. This was Hendricks last MMA bout.
The next fight on the card was a battle between popular welterweights Stephen Thompson and Jorge Masvidal.
Thompson was coming off two unsuccessful attempts to win the welterweight championship, and Masvidal was also coming off a loss against Damian Maia in a title eliminator.
Thompson managed to stay a step ahead of Masvidal throughout the fight, even konicking him down in the second round.
Masvidal never stopped swinging for Thompson and his effort couldn’t be faulted, but he found himself outclassed by ‘Wonderboy’ who won a comfortable decision.
The first of three title fights, Joanna Jedrzejcxyk aimed to defend her strawweight title for a sixth successive time when she took on Rose Namajunas.
Joanna had looked next to faultless in her UFC career so far and was backed to beat Namajunas going in to the event, but her world came crashing down in the first round when she was dropped by Namajunas with an overhand right.
Joanna managed to make her way back to her feet before being dropped again heavily, this time by a right-left combo. Some heavy ground and pound followed and Joanna appeared to tap to strikes as the referee waved off the bout, bringing a shocking end to Joanna’s title reign.
A bantamweight grudge match between former teammates turned rivals co-headlined the show, with Cody Garbrandt putting his bantamweight championship on the line against bitter rival TJ Dillashaw.
Garbrandt nearly had the fight won in the first round, seriously hurting Dillashaw towards the end of the round. Dillashaw recovered in the break between the rounds and returned the favour to Garbrandt in the second, knocking his rival down then going on to stop him, snatching away the title from ‘No Love’.
After almost 4 years away from the cage, GSP made his return to competition, aiming to become a two-weight world champion.
The fight was a cagey affair, with GSP mixing in takedowns with his strikes to mainly control the fight against the established middleweight.
In the third round GSP dropped Bisping with a stiff left and followed him to the ground to unleash some vicious strikes, before taking the British fighter’s back and sinking in a rear-naked choke.
This left the defiant Bisping unconscious, and GSP with his hand raised as the new middleweight champion. This was the first time in history three UFC titles changed hands in one night.