The Ultimate Fighting Championships returns to Madison Square Garden on November 4th and it features the comeback of former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
GSP will be looking to put another title on his resume when he takes on middleweight champion Michael Bisping. The Canadian is coming out of a quasi four-year retirement to make another run in the Octagon and the UFC could really use his star-power right now. Will a win over Bisping set up a super-fight with Conor McGregor?
Also on this blessed card is a bantamweight title fight between champ Cody Garbrandt and archenemy T.J. Dillashaw. There is no love lost between these two former teammates who will finally settle their differences the good old fashion way.
In case that wasn’t enough, the main card also features strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her title against Rose Namajunas, while Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson tries to put himself back in the welterweight title mix when he goes toe-to-toe against Jorge Masvidal.
Even the undercard, with the likes of Mickey Gall, Johny Hendricks, and James Vick to name a few, makes for a pure pugilist party, popcorn and pizza included.
Everything is bigger in New York, so below are two large previews and predictions for the main and co-main event of the evening. Head over to our sportsbook reviews before making your bets. They’ll help you find the best site for your wagering needs, along with the best sign-up bonuses.
UFC 217 ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
Michael Bisping (c) (+115) vs. Georges St-Pierre (-145) (Middleweight Title)
Now that this fight is officially happening, it’s time to break down the matchup.
Let’s start with Michael Bisping (30-7), a dangerous striker who has done a fantastic job of blending boxing and kickboxing into his overall MMA game. When allowed to strike freely, he has the pure knockout power to end fights, as 58% of his wins have come via KO.
The Manchester native has shown that he can handle himself on the ground too, but he has never faced anyone with GSP’s wrestling acumen and so you know his game plan will be simple, to try and avoid the takedowns and keep the fight standing.
Although the Brash Brit hasn’t lost in three years and had a 2016 that most UFC fighters could only dream of, the 40-year-old has been on the shelf for the last 11 months. Yet nobody is talking about the possible ring rust that Bisping may have to deal with.
Perhaps that’s because the man on the other side of the ring will need a CLR bath, himself. Standing across from Bisping will be the challenger (that’s weird to say) Georges St. Pierre (25-2) who will be looking to prove the naysayers wrong and show he is still as dominant as he was four years ago.
When you average nearly four takedowns per fight with a gaudy accuracy of 74.4%, it’s clear what your game-plan should be. St. Pierre dominated the welterweight division for years largely because of his imperious wrestling. Bisping has shown in the past he can stuff takedowns, but he has never faced anyone like St. Pierre. Not even close.
If (and it’s a big if) Bisping can keep the fight standing, GSP won’t be out of his comfort zone. He grew up a karateka and has developed solid boxing skills over the years. The Canadian loves to use his striking to set up takedowns and possesses one of the best jabs in the game. He averages 3.77 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 53.8%. Anytime you have famed boxing coach Freddie Roach in your corner, that’s a big plus.
Bisping might have the size and reach advantage, but the only way he will be able to win this fight is by landing a lucky shot.
On paper, this looks like a great matchup, and I normally shy away from taking guys who have been off for an extended amount of time, but GSP has continued training during his absence and he and his team will be fully prepared for what Bisping will present. I’m expecting to see GSP 2.0 and I think the odds are actually being too nice to Bisping.
St. Pierre is dominant on the ground, and well-rounded enough to win if the fight stays standing. We are going to have a new UFC Middleweight Champion.
Winner: Georges St-Pierre
Cody Garbrandt (c) (-145) vs. TJ Dillashaw (+115) (Bantamweight Title)
This is a fantastic fight that could easily be the main event on a pretty stacked card.
Since winning the bantamweight title last December, Cody Garbrandt (11-0) has been nursing an injured back. But it appears it’s all systems go for the champ, who is looking to put away his former teammate and current archenemy T.J. Dillashaw (14-3).
The still-undefeated Garbrandt is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the sport. Not only does he bring fantastic boxing to the Octagon (ending 82% of his fights by KO), his background in wrestling allows him to keep the fight standing or shoot for the takedown when needed. He’s a volume striker who stays very active and aggressive, and he’s able to keep a high pace through five rounds due to his freakish conditioning. His armor doesn’t appear to have any chinks for Dillashaw to exploit.
That’s not going to stop the former champ from trying. Dillashaw, winner of two straight fights, is a powerful and accurate striker who also possesses some of the most vicious ground and pound in the game, ending 40% of fights via KO. The 31-year-old also has cardio for days and loves to keep a frenetic pace, similar to the style of former champ Dominick Cruz.
You can make a case for either guy. Both men throw lots of strikes and, in this sport, all it takes is for one to land on the button. Dillashaw might have the versatility and longer reach, but Garbrandt brings ruthless aggression along with a toolbox full of dangerous weapons.
The champ took the title from Cruz with ease and I expect him to retain against a game Dillashaw.
Winner: Cody Garbrandt
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk (c) over Rose Namajunas (Women’s Strawweight Championship)
- Stephen Thompson over Jorge Masvidal