GSP returns to face Bisping for MW title at UFC 217

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Madison Square Garden with three title fights, Michael Bisping vs. Georges St. Pierre headlining.  UFC 217 takes place November 4th at the Madison Square Garden in New York City with three fights webcast at UFC Fight Pass, four prelims broadcast on Fox Sports 1, and a five-fight main card broadcast as a pay-per-view.

2017 has been a year of holding up weight divisions in favor of blockbuster fights first with Conor McGregor and the lightweight division, now the main event of this card which was originally announced in March.  TUF Season 3 light heavyweight winner Michael Bisping has won the past five fights in his 30-7 career.  His last loss was to Luke Rockhold in November 2014 while wins over C.B. Dollaway, Thales Leites, and former champion Anderson Silva set up a rematch against Rockhold which resulted in Bisping taking the belt.  Bisping’s first defense of the title was against Dan Henderson which Bisping won by unanimous decision in October 2016, this being his first fight in almost a year.  Georges St. Pierre has been off even longer with his last fight being a split decision over Johny Hendricks in November 2013, four years ago.  At that time he was the most dominant welterweight with nine title defenses in his second run as champion with an overall MMA record of 25-2.  “Compelling” may be the term used by UFC brass for this fight but considering there hasn’t been a middleweight title fight in a year while GSP hasn’t even fought this weight class when he was active “debacle” or “prostitution” may be more appropriate.

The co-main event between bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt and #2 ranked TJ Dillashaw makes up for the main event.  Garbrandt is still undefeated at 11-0 with six of those fights having taken place in the Octagon.  2016 was a huge year for Garbrandt with victories over Augusto Mendes, #10 ranked Thomas Almeida, and Takeya Mizugaki setting up his successful title fight against then-champion Dominick Cruz all in one year.  14-3 Dillashaw his 10-2 in the UFC.  After losing to #1 ranked Cruz in January 2016 Dillashaw defeated #4 ranked Raphael Assuncao and #5 John Linker to take the #2 ranking with both fights coming by unanimous decision.

Also making the card well worth the cost is Joanna Jedrzejcyk defending the women’s strawweight title against Rose Namajunas.  Jedrzejcyk enters this bout 14-0 with eight of those wins being in the UFC and five of them being title defenses.  In the past twelve months Jedrzejcyk defeated#3 ranked Karolina Kowalkiewicz and #1 ranked Jessica Andrade, both by unanimous decision.  6-3 Namajunas holds the #4 ranking with a loss to Kowalkiewicz followed by a rear-naked choke of Michelle Waterson.

Prelims at UFC Fight Pass

  • BW: Aiemann Zahabi vs. Ricardo Ramos
  • LW: Ion Cutelaba vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
  • HW: Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Curtis Blaydes

Prelims on Fox Sports 1

  • WW: Randy Brown vs. Mickey Gall
  • LHW: Ovince St. Preux vs. Corey Anderson
  • HW: Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
  • LW: James Vick vs. Joseph Duffy

Main card

  • MW: Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Borrachinha
  • WW: Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
  • W Strawweight title: Joanna Jedrzejcyk vs. Rose Namajunas
  • BW title: Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw
  • MW title: Michael Bisping vs. Georges St. Pierre