NEW YORK CITY—On Saturday, November 4, Madison Square Garden in New York will host the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 31st event of the year, UFC 217: Bisping vs. St.-Pierre. The event is largely considered to be the UFC’s premier affair of 2017 and will feature no less than three title fights in addition to a host of undercard bouts.
The headlining event is a middleweight title bout between current champion (and California resident) Michael Bisping and former two-time welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Both fighters are known for their relentless determination, their ability to withstand punishment, and tendencies to grind fights out to a decision. Bisping has over 13 years of professional experience in the octagon and currently holds a record of 30 wins and 7 losses. His last fight (which he won) was against Dan Henderson in October 2016 at UFC 204. In 2016, Bisping also fought at both UFC 199 and UFC Fight Night: Silva vs. Bisping, where he triumphed over Luke Rockhold and Anderson Silva respectively.
St. Pierre, on the other hand, has not been nearly as active. In fact, he announced his retirement from fighting in 2013, after a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. His Saturday evening match against Bisping will be his first time fighting competitively in the last 50 pay-per-view UFC events. If St. Pierre is to shake off the rust, he has a good chance of outlasting Bisping in what is sure to be a no-holds-barred brawl of unmatched proportions.
UFC 217 will also feature a bantamweight title fight between the undefeated champion, Cody Garbrandt, and challenger T.J. Dillashaw. Garbrandt has an uncanny amount of power behind his right hand, especially for his height and weight. His ability to combine the speed and agility of his 5 foot and 7 inch frame with the striking force of a larger man has made earned Garbrandt his rightful position as the sixth-best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. Both fighters are experienced wrestlers and this fight is one that could play out in equal parts standing and grappling.
For Dillashaw’s part, he has become known for a unique fighting stance and high-speed footwork, both of which will play in his favor when it comes to avoiding haymakers from Garbrandt. This fight will be personal for both men as there is little love lost between these quarreling contenders, both of whom have regularly traded barbs with one another over recent days.
The third and final title bout of the evening is a women’s strawweight battle between current champion Joanna Jedrzejckzyk and Rose Namajunas. Jedrzejckzyk is a five-time defender of the title and for good reason. So far, no other fighter in her division has been able to match her resilience and the sheer quickness and power of her Muay Thai based striking. She also receives high marks for her conditioning and her capacity to maintain a consistent, incredibly intense pace for the duration of any given fight. If Namajunas is to win, she needs to secure an early takedown (Jiu-Jitsu being her specialty) and go for a choke – before Jedrzejckzyk’s relentless striking wears her down.
Two bouts –welterweight and middleweight respectively- pitting Stephen Thompson against Jorge Masvidal and Johny Hendricks against Paulo Costa will round out the night’s main event. While neither of these are for championship titles, both will determine the future standings of the participants and should not be missed.
With such a stacked lineup of quality talent, it only makes sense that the UFC would secure Madison Square Garden for the event. This is only the second time the venue has hosted the UFC. The last event, UFC 205, was referred to by company president Dana White as the “biggest fight card” in the industry’s history. Assuming all its contestants make weight, 217 is almost certain to give 205 a run for its money.