UFC 217 review and predictions

Edward L'Orange Roar Pro

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    UFC 217, possibly the most exiting line-up of the year, is finally upon us this weekend. Headlined by the return of Georges St-Pierre against the middleweight champion Michael Bisping, this card is packed with great fights.

    So let us get into the breakdown.

    The night begins with the middleweight bout between Johny Hendricks (18 wins seven loses) and Paulo Borrachinha (10-0). Journeyman fighter Hendricks is coming of a salty resent record, having lost six of his last nine fights.

    However, as his loses come largely from names such Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, or Georges St-Pierre, and the majority being decisions, he is still very much in contention. However, his opponent is the undefeated Brazilian monster Paulo Borrachinha, who has a record of ten wins and nine KOs.

    Having only made it out of the first round once in his career, Borrachina is the quintessential knockout artist, and has an imposing seven cm height advantage over Hendricks.

    Hendricks’ best bet in this fight is to try to get the match into the last round and tire the big Brazilian. However, this is a hard task, and I expect Borrachina to win by TKO in first or second round.

    Next is the very exciting match between Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (12-2-1 draw) and Jorge Masvidal (32-12). Although two years his junior, Masvidal is a true MMA veteran, with an impressive 44 professional fights.

    Besides his last split-decision loss against Demian Maia, Masvidal has a decent recent record, with victories over Donal Cerrone, Jake Ellenberger and Ross Pearson, and a win against Wonderboy may well get him a title shot against Tyron Woodley.

    Stephen Thompson is also coming of a loss, his now infamous match against Tyron Woodley. However, he had a very impressive record previous to his two fights against Woodley, with an eight match winning streak including a win over Rory McDonald. Both being upright fighters, this bout is hard to call.

    However, I expect Wonderboy to get the better of this fight in what for him is a return to the big stage after his loss to Woodley. His karate style will prevail to get the points over Masvidal, who will lose by decision.

    The next is the first of three championship fights on this card, with the Women’s Strawweight belt on the line between champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk (14-0) and Rose Namajunas (6-3). Joanna is an outstanding champion, with endurance to be marvelled at. Her undefeated record puts her well on top in the odds for this fight.

    Indeed, on paper, the 25 year-old Numajunas does not seem to compare to the champ. However, with fierce, unorthodox submissions, including a spectacular flying armbar, she is difficult to train for, and is likely only just coming into her prime as a mixed marital artist.

    With five of her six wins coming from submission, she will be looking to take the bout to the mat early, or surprise Jędrzejczyk with a submission from a outside the box.

    However, against the experience and skill of Jędrzejczyk this is a tough ask. I am interested to see how this one pans out, but I think we will see Joanna avoid the take downs and pace herself to win points and take the match by decision.

    Next we have the much anticipated bantamweight champions between Cody Garbrandt (11-0) and T.J. Dillashaw (14-3). With genuine animosity between these two, and both being outstanding competitors, here we have one of the fights of the year: one I think should have been the main event.

    Former teammates, Cody and T.J. share after a long saga of dislike and confrontation which is far too long to go into. How the two approach this fight will be interesting. Certainly, any outright head to head banging will benefit Garbrandt.

    With nine of his 11 wins coming from knockout, Garbrandt is possibly the best striker the weight-class has ever seen, and he will be searching for an early KO.

    Dillashaw, however, is the more well rounded fighter. He owns an impressive background in college wrestling and solid Jiu Jitsu, but still can strike with the best.

    If he is smart, he will look to evade Garbrandt’s early onslaught and take the fight to the ground and win points. However, an infamously competitive and emotional fighter, it is possible T.J. may let pride and animosity get the better of him and attempt bang with Cody.

    This would be a mistake. If Dillashaw keeps his head, this has the potential to be an all-time classic fight, and is very hard to predict.

    However, I will go out on a limb and say that T.J. has seemed the more focused fighter in the lead-up, and will keep his head to outscore Garbrandt and win by decision.

    The final fight of the night is the middleweight champion bout between the champion Michael Bisping (30-7), and returning legend Georges St-Pierre (25-2).

    UFC 114: Michael Bisping v Dan Miller

    (Photo: Zuffa – Flickr)

    Returning from a four-year retirement, the former champ ‘GSP’ jumps straight back onto title contention in this match against Englishman Bisping.

    There has been some contention about the bout, with claims that the fight is not in the best interest of modern UFC fans.

    Nevertheless, the fight has been endlessly promoted by the UFC, with Bisping doing more than his share of the talking.

    The fight itself is an interesting one. Both fighters are veterans, with incredible wins over outstanding opponents. Indeed, GSP is possibly one of the greatest champions of UFC history, defending the title nine times in one of the most competitive weight-divisions in the UFC.

    Both are well rounded fighters, with GSP perhaps having the edge on the skills front. Both also have excellent cardio, having fought five rounds multiple times, but Bisping, being the more current fighter, would seem to have the edge here.

    In the end, the biggest factor in this fight is GSP’s four year stint on the sidelines. He has come back and gone up a weight-class, and how ring rust and his new weight will impact his performance is a huge unknown.

    Bisping is the reigning champion and has much more recent fights, and thus despite being almost 38, is more ring ready than St-Pierre. Because of this, I am going to go against the odds and say that Bisping will win an underwhelming, but nevertheless entertaining, match by decision.

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