This Sunday sees the most anticipated event of the 2017 UFC calendar finally arrive. With struggling PPV numbers, the Las Vegas tragedy overshadowing UFC 216, in addition to the general feeling that 2017 has offered little in comparison to the feast that was last year, the UFC needs this weekend’s event to deliver, and deliver big.
UFC 217 boasts 3 world title fights, and a tantalising undercard with some mouthwatering clashes that have all the ingredients to make the card an event for the ages.
UFC 217: Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre – World Middleweight Championship
The main event sees two MMA legends do battle for the middleweight title. This bout contains so many X factors that it is tricky to adequately cover them all. The first is Bisping’s title reign has been arguably one of the least impressive in middleweight history. Since his upset win over Luke Rockhold (16-3) to claim the title in June 2016, he has only defended the belt once, and that was against a fighter not even ranked in the top 15. He also managed to do his best to avoid the fearsome number one contender Yoel Romero long enough to have questions asked about his legitimacy as the true king.
Bisping (30-7) however, now gets his opportunity to defend against a truly elite fighter in Georges St-Pierre (25-2). Firmly in the top 5 of anyone’s P4P list, St-Pierre is a truly majestic mixed martial artist. Working with the finest coaches his entire career, he has so many weapons in his arsenal that he can exploit, including Jiu Jitsu under John Danaher, boxing from Freddie Roach, and his all round athleticism which is overseen by head coach of Tristar Firas Zahabi.
St-Pierre though also has several potential questions over his head that will need to be answered on Sunday. After a 4 year layoff from competition, will we be seeing the former phenom of several years ago, or is ring rust real? He’s also fighting at 185lbs for the first time in his career, how will his cardio be impacted by the added muscle that he has added in his year of preparation? Also, after boasting that he could make 155lbs if a potential super fight with Conor McGregor was on the table, is he really a middleweight, and will the gigantic Bisping be simply be too big for him?
St-Pierre says he could “easily” fight at lightweight.
All these factors make this an intriguing match-up, but it seems that ticket sales have been slow for the MSG showdown, possibly because the trash talking between the pair has seemed a little manufactured in the build up. It’s doubtful that there is any true animosity between the pair, and after the event there is sure to be nothing but respect between them in the octagon.
Regardless, we will find out on Sunday whether size really does matter, or is the former king of the welterweights back to rule a new division.