The most anticipated night for fight fans across the world has been and gone. It did not disappoint that is for sure. A card stacked with top quality fights headed up by 3 world title fights provided non stop action and enough drama to satisfy UFC fans for the rest of the year. Georges St-Pierre’s return after a 4 year absence was the main draw. He faced off against Michael Bisping for the middleweight belt. Ex Team Alpha Male team mates Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw battled it out for the right to be called the bantamweight champion of the world. The third title fight was in the women’s strawweight division pitting Polish champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk against Rose Namajunas. It was a night that would see silverware change hands regularly.
Rose Namajunas Def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via KO in round 1
As Joe Rogan said on commentary, who would have thought Namajunas would have knocked out Jedrzejczyk who was widely considered the best female fighter in the UFC. Namajunas is a submission specialist and many believed if she was going to cause an upset she would make the champion submit. She landed a heavy left hook to score her second knockdown of the fight in the first round. She piled on the pressure and the champion had no response. It appeared that Jedrzejczyk tapped from the punches landing on her from the challenger.
Namajunas was cool during the build up and even cooler in the ring. As a huge underdog with bookmakers she was available at 9/2 while the champion was 1/6. She took everything in her stride and with the quality of opponent in front of her shows how good her mindset is. Even after the win she was calm, no adrenaline infused celebrations, just a calm gracious attitude which will surely grow her fan base.The future is bright for ‘Thug Rose’ as she is still only 25 years of age.
It was not just the bookies who were favouring Jedrzejczyk it was the wider MMA comunity as well. A rematch is certainly on the card and the ex champion has already signalled her intent to set the record straight.
“I must sit and talk to Dana and the UFC. I think I’ve been a good athlete and good champion for the UFC. That’s it. I think I deserve the rematch, if I will not get the rematch, we’ll see. I want my belt back and that’s the thing, it’s probably going to be the biggest goal right now to get my belt back because s**t happens everywhere, so it was a mistake, it was a big surprise.” (Joanna Jedrzejczyk)
‘The Boogeywoman’ went on to say that it was not a lucky punch and that Namajunas had a great game plan. The rematch is the logical option for both women and with Jedrzejczyk being brought back to earth expect a closer fight next time.
TJ Dillashaw Def. Cody Garbrandt via KO in round 2
The build up to this fight was electric. Crosswords, tension on the Ultimate Fighter series and former friendships really made the run up to the fight sizzle. The action delivered as well. After such a fantastic build up it is sometimes an anti-climax when it comes to the fight.
The first round was slow. Garbrandt stalking his opponent waiting for him to make errors coming forward so he could land a massive shot to end the contest. Dillashaw moving around the octagon and looking loose trying to connect with a kick to his opponents head. When the two came together it was frantic. Garbrandt landed a huge right hand inside the last 10 seconds of the round and totally floored TJ.
Dillashaw will be grateful it landed so late. The punch landing 30 seconds earlier could have been a win for the champion.
TJ recovered and proceeded with caution in the second. A wild kick missed and Garbrandt show boated, which now looks foolish. But at the time he was in control. Moving out of distance as TJ came forward and letting his fast hands go when the chance presented itself.
The dynamic of the fight changed when TJ landed a high kick right on the sweet spot of his opponents head. Garbrandt went down and was clearly shaken. Then later in the round the two came together and TJ was able to land the killer blow. Flooring Garbrandt TJ pounced and ended the contest loading up shots on his grounded opponent.
After all the animosity in the build up the two came together and were respectful to each other. That was after somebody in TJ’s camp shouted something which caused Garbrandt to react. It was quickly forgotten and a handshake between the two represented a huge moment in the rivalry.
What next? TJ wants to go down and fight Demetrious Johnson. He still has unfinished business in his current weight division. A close defeat against Dominick Cruz, which saw TJ lose the belt in January 2016 means that a rematch must be on the agenda. However, down the road the rematch with Garbrandt will happen. The pair are evenly matched and with Garbrandt only being 26 he is still well and truly on the bantamweight radar.
Georges St-Pierre Def. Michael Bisping via submission (rear naked choke) in round 3
What a way to end the night! Going into the fight the odds were against GSP. He started well and put Bisping on the back foot. Then he was cut open as Bisping landed viscous strikes and elbows on the ground from the bottom. A left hook dropped Bisping and as GSP put the pressure on before retreating slightly he was able to take Bisping’s back and put him to sleep. The momentum of the fight swung between each fighter and it really entertained.
It was the perfect way to round off the night with the third world title changing hands. Bisping humble in defeat congratulated the new champion and after all the words exchange the respect was obvious. GSP back and it seems he is here to stay. He looked strong and quick at 185 but questions will be raised about his stamina as he seemed to become tired in the second round.
History made and a legacy enhanced. What next for GSP? Robert Whittaker in Australia looks like the next step and defending the title will even further cement GSP’s legendary status. Bisping on the other hand maintains he will not call it a day. Age and now fight options play a factor in rumours he is finished. He still has enough in him for a couple more fights but does he want it?
UFC 217 delivered that is 100% true. The title fights were the main highlight but the prelims and undercard was also good viewing.
The option for rematches are open to all the title fights and the level of fighters involved it is no impossible that the all the titles could return to the losers at this event. The event certainly helped the reputation of the company. With Conor McGregor off the scene for sometime and a gap in UFC cards as he took on Floyd Mayweather hurt the reputation. With new stars emerging the UFC brand improves and the entertainment and drama on show in New York highlights the growing strength of the roster.
3 world title fights, 3 new champions – there is a lot to live up to for UFC 218. Who would bet against the organisation getting even stronger next year.
If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.