UFC 217 Recap: GSP makes return; Three new champions crowned

UFC 217 had it all… awesome finishes, upsets, and three different belts changing waists. Some are saying it’s the best card of all-time. This card was incredible and did not disappoint, that’s for sure. Let’s take a look at how it all happened.

Main Card Results:

36 year’s old. Retired for 4 years. Career welterweight. There’s no way George St-Pierre is going to come out of retirement and not only win a belt, but do it at middleweight against champion, Michael Bisping. I said those exact words many times. I was wrong. GSP came out in the first round looking like he hadn’t missed a beat, out striking Bisping and taking him down late in the first to secure the first round.

The tables turned a little in the second round as GSP secured another takedown but Bisping was able to get right back to his feet and get the better of the exchanges, finishing strong with a right hand and a high kick that barely missed a tired looking GSP.

As the third round started GSP almost immediately took Bisping down again, for the third time in the fight. But it was Bisping who wrapped into guard and was damaging GSP with elbows from the bottom, cutting him open on the nose with one. After getting up though, GSP rocked Bisping with a perfect left hook sending him crashing to the canvas. After dropping hammer-punches and fists GSP took Bisping’s back and sunk in a rear-naked-choke and Bisping, refusing to tap, went lights out. Crazy finish and what a return for the legend.

George St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3, 4:23.

I’m not sure we’ve seen legitimate bad blood like this in the Octagon before. Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw really don’t like each other. I think more so from Garbrandt’s side, however. We all know the story by now of how Dillashaw left Team Alpha Male with Coach Duane Ludwig and the resentment ‘TAM’ and Garbrandt has for that move. Well, these two finally got to settle the score in the Octagon and it didn’t disappoint.

Garbrandt was his typical self in the Octagon to start the first, using his speed and precision to dodge Dillashaw’s kicks and land some nice counters. Just before the round ended Garbrandt caught Dillahsaw with a right hand that dropped Dillashaw and Garbrandt jumped in nearly getting the finish but Dillashaw was saved by the bell as he stumbled back to his stool, clearly shaken.

Dillashaw looked to have recovered to start the second round, just missing with a kick and a superman punch. Another kick landed and sent Garbrandt to the canvas but he recovered quickly. The two exchanged a little more and Dillashaw landed a right hook and Garbrandt was down again. This time Dillashaw was making sure he didn’t get back up. Dillashaw jumped on him and landed punch after punch until it was called. Huge win for T.J. and his team. ‘TAM’ has to be reeling after this loss. I don’t think the rivalry ended in the Octagon tonight.

T.J. Dillashaw def. Cody Garbrandt via knockout (punches) Round 2, 2:41.

Rose Namajunas stepped into this title fight as the biggest underdog of the night. She came out as the new strawweight champion. Joanna Jedrzejczyk had dominated the division since winning the title in 2015. She was coming off her fifth title defense and didn’t look to have a formidable challenger in site… well, that’s why they fight. There was some buildup of bad blood between the two coming into the fight with Jedrzejczyk questioning Namajunas’s mental state, among other things. But just as Namajunas remained calm throughout the buildup, she was just as calm inside the Octagon.

I think everyone expected for Namajunas to try to take Jedrzejczyk down early, considering Jedrzejczyk has some of the best striking the sport has seen, but instead Namajunas remained standing wanting to prove she can strike with her. The two exchanged some routine strikes but it was Namajunas landing the first significant strike dropping Jedrzejczyk and following up trying to take her back but ultimately letting her back up. Then comes another left hand sending Jedrzejczyk down to the mat again and Namajunas started dropping bombs forcing Jedrzejczyk to tap due to strikes. Unreal finish.

For those comparing Jedrzejczyk to Rousey, just stop. Jedrzejczyk is one of the most elite strikers in all of MMA. She will be back. As for Namajunas, just an awesome performance and she’s just hitting her stride at 25 years of age.

Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via knockout (strikes) Round 1, 3:03. 

In a matchup of welterweight challengers we saw Stephen Thompson face off with Jorge Masvidal. Both fighters were coming off losses and attempting to reestablish themselves as contenders to Woodley’s crown. Although, I think GSP will be that contender sooner than later but I’ll save that for another segment.

This fight was pretty much all Thompson as he used his length and counter striking to stifle and frustrate Masvidal causing Masvidal to chase him around the Octagon for most of the fight in an attempt to make it ugly. In the end, it was Thompson getting back into the win column and Masvidal looking for answers now dropping two in a row.

Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision.

Here’s a name you may want to remember if you didn’t already know it. Paulo Costa. Costa continued his onslaught on opponents, this time against Johny Hendricks. In all fairness, Hendricks did take Costa longer into a professional MMA fight than Costa’s ever gone before. But that’s not saying much. That record was at 6 minutes and 6 seconds. It now stands at 6 minutes and 23 seconds.

Costa was a force from the beginning forcing himself inside Hendrick’s reach. He insisted, at least twice, during the fight that Hendricks comes in after Hendrick’s had landed a couple of nice strikes. Hendrick’s didn’t take the bait, however. Hendrick’s landed a couple of good shots towards the end of the round and Costa laughed.

To start the second Hendricks was aggressive landing a left and a kick. An accidental eyepoke stopped the action temporarily, but quickly resumed. After that it was all Costa who was just too much for Hendricks, landing some huge punches and a head kick. More punches followed and the fight had to be stopped.

Costa (3-0 UFC) is propelling himself up the middleweight ladder while Hendricks needs to contemplate retirement, going 2-6 since winning the title at UFC 171.

Paulo Costa def. Johny Hendricks via TKO (punches) Round 2, 1:23.

Prelim Results:

  • James Vick def. Joseph Duffy via TKO (punches) Round 2, 4:59
  • Mark Goodbeer def. Walt Harris via disqualification (illegal kick) Round 1, 4:29
  • Ovince Saint Preux def. Corey Anderson via knockout (head kick) Round 3, 1:25
  • Randy Brown def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision
  • Curtis Blaydes def. Aleksei Oleinik via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) Round 2, 1:56
  • Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi via knockout (spinning back elbow) Round 3, 1:58

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