UFC 217 was an absolute monster of an event. Three title fights, and some fantastic match ups all the way from the early prelims. There have been several amazing performances over the years, but to see so many come together on one night was something astounding!
For the casual fans – this was a card with 11 fights – 9 of which were stoppages. Two of these stoppages were highlight reel material – Ricardo Ramos stopping Aiemann Zahabi with a spinning back elbow, and Ovince St. Preux landing a Cro-Cop-esque head kick and finishing Corey Anderson. We had a couple of controversial fights as well, but they just added to the excitement of the event and did their bit to move the needle. Curtis Blaydes vs Alexei Oleynik was a weird one, but definitely took Blaydes a step up the ladder in the heavyweight division. Paulo ‘Borracinha’ Costa probably took the biggest step forward in his young career at UFC 217. The young Brazlian absolutely dominated former WW champ Johnny Hendricks and finished him in decisive fashion. We might have our next Brazilian superstar in this kid, guys.
Let’s talk about three main event(s) now, shall we? Every fight had a ‘Holy Sh*t’ moment and I was barely seated once the main card started.
First up was Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas. Anyone who has been watching MMA for the last couple of years knows what a dominant champion JJ has been. She’s so good, she’s scary. At UFC 217, Jedrzejczyk was on the verge of beating Ronda Rousey’s record for successful title defenses. Rose Namajunas had gradually made a name for herself and earned this well deserved title shot. Everyone knew she was a good fighter, but many felt that JJ was in a different league altogether. Jedrzejczyk is a great fighter, but she also likes to talk trash before fights and try and get into her opponent’s heads. At 217, it all fell apart for her. Namajunas showed some serious skills and finished JJ in impressive fashion. This was such a huge upset, I was actually reminded of the time Matt Serra finished GSP some 6 years ago. Such a great performance by Namajunas, who remained humble in defeat and showed amazing poise for a 25 year old.
The next fight was the epic grudge match between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. These former team mates have been going at it for a while now. The tension between the two fighters had been at fever pitch for the last few months, and there’s some genuine bad blood there. Garbrandt was the favourite, but Dillashaw got the job done. After being dropped and losing the first round, Dillashaw came back strong and finished Garbrandt in Round 2. What a thriller this was!
Georges St. Pierre vs Michael Bisping for the Middleweight title. It’s insane that this fight even happened. GSPvacated his welterweight belt and stepped away from the sport four years ago, at the very peak of his career. He announced his comeback, and walked straight into a title shot at Middleweight belt. Did he leapfrog a bunch of legit contenders? Sure he did. But then again, GSP is GSP – the most dominant welterweight of all time. Leading up the fight, Bisping repeatedly pointed out how much larger he was than GSP. Pretty much everyone acknowledged that while GSP was a great fighter, Bisping would simply be too big for him. Plus there’s the matter of four years of ring rust.
The first two rounds were great. GSP didn’t show any signs of ring rust, but did seem to move slower than he did at Welterweight. He seemed to be tiring in Round 3, and Bisping managed to cut him up pretty well. Then, he caught Bisping with a hook that sent the Brit to the canvas. GSP pounced, sank in the rear naked choke and became the new UFC middleweight champion. Unreal.
UFC 217 was something rare. Three title fights in one night. All titles changed hands. All champions finished. JJ vs Namajunas – Round 1, Dillashaw vs Garbrandt – Round 2 and GSP vs Bisping – Round 3. It is this chaos and unpredictability that makes me love MMA! The UFC has put up some great events, but in my book, UFC 217 was the greatest MMA event of all time.