UFC 217: The Second Coming
Well, it’s done. UFC 217 is in the history books, and it was truly an event for the ages, possibly the greatest UFC event in history.
Who would have thought that Bruce Buffer would be exclaiming “And the New” 3 times. UFC fans around the world have been treated to 3 of the most scintillating and unpredictable title fights in a single event in living memory.
Namajunas new strawweight champion
First of all came Rose Namajunas’ (7-3) emphatic KO win over the previously unbeaten Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1). Rose was the biggest underdog of the three title fights.
Many gave Namajunas little chance of dethroning a formidable undefeated champion. But she showed steely nerve and exceptional timing to detonate a left hook on the chin of Jedrzejczyk and claim the strawweight title.
Dillashaw regains bantamweight belt
Then came the grudge match between ex teammates turned bitter rivals Cody Garbrandt (11-1) and TJ Dillashaw (15-3). The atmosphere in MSG was electric for this one, with almost the entire arena chanting “Let’s go Cody” during the first round demonstrating who the vast majority of the fans were behind. The accusations of betrayal, PED use, and ending the career of a teammate against Dillashaw all hung heavy in the air tonight.
Garbrandt displayed his lightning quick hands early in the first round, and dominated TJ on the feet. The final moments of the round saw Garbrandt catch Dillashaw clean and proceed to mount and drop huge right hands on top of him attempting the finish, but the bell came to Dillashaw’s rescue just in time.
The second began in similar fashion to the first with both fighters wary of the other’s power. Until Dillashaw exploited a momentary lapse of Garbrandt’s defence and landed a huge head kick over Cody’s dropped right hand. This sent Garbrandt to the canvas and spelled the beginning of the end to the fight. Cody found his way to his feet and both fighters engaged in a firefight which culminated in TJ landing a left hook and handed Garbrandt his first career loss in emphatic style.
While it lasted, this one was a treat. Two dynamic fighters in their prime duelling is always a pleasure to behold, but when the back-story is this intense it makes for a memorable battle. One that’s sure to be done again, maybe more than once.
And answered they were
Next came the main event, with Michael Bisping defending his middleweight strap against the returning Georges St-Pierre. By this point the arena was at fever pitch in anticipation of perhaps the greatest MMA fighter of all time returning to the octagon after 4 years, and all the questions about his layoff about to be answered.
GSP looked a natural middleweight, he was faster, more dynamic, and as technically brilliant as ever as the fight picked up speed. Bisping was tough and durable but was beaten to the punch on many occasions, with St-Pierre utilising the crisp jab that he had picked up under the guidance of Freddie Roach.
As the fight went on, there were suspicions of GSP losing some of his speed, and carrying the extra weight up to 185lbs, this could have been an issue for him, especially against the famously well conditioned Bisping. But, tonight was about the left hook and mid way through the third, St-Pierre caught Bisping clean and sent him to the canvas. After a flurry of heavy strikes, GSP took Bisping’s back and choked the life out of him with a rear naked choke. Bisping, in true warrior fashion would rather be deprived of his consciousness than tap, and the referee stepped in to save him from himself and reignite the oxygen flow to his brain. And just like that, a legend returns.
Greatest of All Time
There have been 3 common criticisms leveled at St-Pierre during his reign as champion. Firstly, he doesn’t finish enough fights. Second, that his fights are technical but not exciting, and finally that he never stepped up in weight to face a bigger man.
Those criticisms were all answered at UFC 217, and answered emphatically. There used to be a debate to be had, not any more. George’s St-Pierre is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.