UFC 217 will take place on Saturday in Madison Square Garden. The highlight will be the return (for the second time) to MSG as well as the return of former UFC legend Georges St-Pierre. The 36-year-old has been away from the sport for nearly four years but prior to that had been among the sport’s pound-for-pound kings. Can he reclaim his spot at the top after being away for so long?
Michael Bisping vs Georges St-Pierre – Middleweight Championship Bout
Odds: GSP -120
Bisping (30-7) aims to defend the title against St-Pierre (25-2), the former welterweight king who returns to action after four years on the sidelines. Bisping is a natural middleweight who is a very good striker while St-Pierre uses his striking to set up his takedowns. But how effective will those be at a larger weight and after a long layoff? A win in this match and St-Pierre could go down as the best fighter in the history of the UFC.
Cody Garbrandt vs T.J. Dillashaw – Bantamweight Championship Bout
Odds: Garbrandt -180
Garbrandt (11-0) will try to defend his belt against former champion Dillashaw (14-2). The two used to be teammates at Alpha Male, so they know each other very well. Both can wrestle, with a slight edge to Dillashaw, but Garbrandt is the better striker, so like the middleweight title bout, this will be a matchup of styles.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas – Women’s Strawweight Championship Bout
Odds: Jedrzejczyk -500
Jedrzejczyk (14-0) hasn’t had a serious challenger since winning the belt. Namajunas (6-3) is next up to try and her strategy is likely to take her to the mat. If Namajunas can’t do that, it could be over early as Jedrzejczyk is one of the best strikers in the UFC, male or female. Namajunas will have to go through a slew of leg kicks and Muay Thai strikes just to get close to the champion and by that time, she could be too beat up to do anything about it.
Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal – Welterweight
Odds: Thompson -175
Thompson (13-2-1) is looking for another title shot after a draw and a majority-decision loss to champion Tyron Woodley. Some argue that he won both of those fights but that’s a separate story. Masvidal (32-12) lost a split decision to Demian Maia that probably cost him a title shot.
This fight could be the best on the main card. Both men love to strike and they can take a punch as well. While Thompson usually sits back and is more patient, Masvidal has promised to bring the action to him.
Both fighters are also ranked in the top five in the welterweight division where Woodley doesn’t have much going on, so a comprehensive win would at least get them in the conversation for a title match.
Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Borrachinha – Middleweight
Odds: Borrachinha -225
Hendricks (18-7) was the last man to fight St-Pierre, losing a split decision. Then he won the welterweight belt against Robbie Lawler before losing it in a rematch. Since then, Hendricks is 2-5 and has missed weight in three of his last four fights – including in his last middleweight fight, a TKO loss to Tim Boetsch. This looks like a situation where he’s being sacrificed to Borrachinha (10-0), whose UFC debut was a TKO win over Oluwale Bamgbose. That was the first time that Borrachinha had been out of the first round and he looks like a fighter who is on the rise. This should be an exciting fight to kick off the main card.