UFC 217 gives company needed boost
This year has been sluggish for the UFC. On Nov. 2, UFC 217 desperately needed to prove that it was capable of running a big-time show without relying on box office attractions like Jon Jones, Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey.
UFC 217 was the shot in the arm that the organization needed that proved that, given the proper hype and booking, it could deliver at any time. The event was significant as it was the first time in UFC history that three titles changed hands in one night, and it has sold over 1 million pay-per-view buys. Five “performance of the night” bonuses were handed out, a rare feat that shows just how ferocious the competition was.
In what can be described as the biggest upset of the year, Rose Namajunas took on the defending champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a quick match that saw the challenger floor the champion three minutes into the first round. Jedrzejczyk had maintained an undefeated streak with 14 wins up until that point and it looked like she was closing in on Rousey’s record, which had dominating title defenses leading up to that point.
Jedrzejczyk fights with a bullying style that relies heavily on her offense, using it to overwhelm her opponents with little regard for defense. It is often said the best of fighters are those who take an opponent’s strength and turn it into a weakness, a feat that Namajunas used to outfight her opponent.
Moving forward, the 25-year-old strawweight champion has a plethora of opponents to look forward to, including Jéssica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz as options, as well as future prospect Cynthia Calvillo if she defeats Carla Esparza at UFC 218.
As for the former champion, Jedrzejczyk’s future remains uncertain as a rematch for the title seems unlikely. An unwritten rule of the UFC is that rematches are not a given and that it depends on various factors to determine a rematch, such as crowd response, performance and performers’ shelf life. At 30 years old, Jedrzejczyk might not be the same fighter she once was. A move to the soon-to-be-created women’s flyweight division is an alternative, as she would be an instant title contender.
Georges St-Pierre came back from a four-year hiatus, moving up from the welterweight class to defeat Michael Bisping and become the new middleweight champion.
It has been a long road for St-Pierre, and his victory over Bisping was his first decisive finish in over a decade.
St-Pierre showed that he had not lost a step, and although he was fighting a true elite of the 185-pound class, he showed that he could hang with the best and earned the submission victory.
Moving forward, many have speculated that St-Pierre might not be able to continue at the middleweight class and might go back to the welterweight division. His next title defense is in the air and fans can only speculate the direction the UFC may be headed with the middleweight champion.
As for Bisping, he recently fought at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai against Kelvin Gastelum in the main event. Two fights within a 21-day span was always a questionable choice made by the UFC, but with Anderson "The Spider" Silva’s drug suspension, it desperately needed a big name to replace him and fill the card. Bisping had his medical suspension reduced from 30 days to seven in order to make the fight, while the loss to Gastelum has made the argument for his retirement even more credible.
It is true that he is everyone’s favorite underdog and has pulled out performances that have silenced even his harshest critics, but questionable booking from the UFC has left most scratching their heads.
Joe Rogan, on his podcast, questioned Bisping’s booking and did not understand the logic of Bisping accepting another fight within three weeks of the brutal beating he received at the hands of St-Pierre.
“It just does not make sense … It’s just not smart. I know Bisping wanted to do it,” Rogan argued, adding that “[they] really have to protect the fighter from themselves.”
The last of three main events saw former Team Alpha Male partners Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw settle their bitter rivalry over the bantamweight championship.
In the second biggest upset of the night, Dillashaw overcame the odds and took out Garbrandt in the second round in a vicious strike fest.
Dillashaw was in no way the underdog, but no one expected him to take out Garbrandt so brutally in the second round. As the second undefeated streak broken in the night, Garbrandt is still in the contention for the title and a rematch is not out of the question.
As for Dillashaw, he called out flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson for a super fight during the post-fight interview. Even if the challenge is accepted and approved, there is no certainty regarding the title for which would be fighting.