Coming up this weekend we have the UFC's biggest card of the year, taking place at one of, if not the most legendary venue in entertainment and combat sports, Madison Square Garden. Of course to go along with the grandeur of MSG and New York City, the UFC brings a STACKED card featuring important fights in the preliminaries and huge match-ups in the main card, including 3 title fights!
Lets get into it!
UFC217 Embedded vlog series
Watch the related UFC vlog series for all the inside information about UFC217
Aiemann Zahabi vs. Ricardo Lucas Ramos
To kick off the card, we have a bantamweight contest, between two UFC newcomers. Canadian Aiemann Zahabi and Brazilian Ricardo Lucas Ramos. Aiemann, the younger brother of Notable MMA Trainer and Tristar Gym head coach Firas Zahabi, has proven to be very well rounded and dangerous in his first 7 fights, finishing 6 of his 7 wins, splitting those wins with 3 T/KO's and 3 submissions. He also won his UFC debut. Ramos has proven to be a great prospect as well, however he is more of a ground specialist, winning 6 of his 10 victories by way of submission. He won his UFC debut as well, and both of these young fighters are looking to climb the ranks in the UFC's 135-lb division. It will be interesting to see which will prevail, as both fighters have great ground skills. Perhaps we will see a striking match between grapplers.
Ion Cutelaba vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Next up, we have a Light Heavyweight contest between UFC up-and-comer Ion 'The Hulk' Cutelaba, and debutee Michal 'Lord' Oleksiejczuk. Moldova's Cutelaba has split his record in the octagon going 2-2 in the UFC, losing his debut against Misha Cirkunov, but most recently taking home a dominant KO victory over Henrique da Silva in June. Oleksiejczuk makes his debut in the octagon with an impressive 12-2 professional record with 8 KO/TKOs out of his total 12 victories. He has huge momentum coming into his UFC debut as his last 3 wins have all been by way of KO. Both of these 205ers are known for their KO power, with 18 KO/TKO wins between the both of them. They are both on the rise in their careers, Ion is 23 and Michal is 22, and this fight should be a very entertaining contest of striking between two very dangerous and tough European men. However they also both have submission victories under their belts, so this fight could go anywhere. Keep an eye on this one.
Aleksei Oleynik vs. Curtis Blaydes
Next, on the last fight of the early UFC Fight Pass prelims, we have a Heavyweight bout between #9 ranked Submission specialist Aleksei 'The Boa Constrictor' Oleynik and #12 ranked Curtis 'Razor' Blaydes. Oleynik comes into this fight with one of the more impressive records in all of MMA, at 55-10! He is a true veteran at 40 years old, and the way he has survived such a long MMA career (he began in the dawn of the sport in 1996) was his extremely high-level grappling and submission-first strategy. He may have 6 T/KO's in his career but he has 45 submission victories and 3 of those in the UFC. He made his debut in 2014 after 18 years dominating in other pro promotions. He most recently submitted UFC vet Travis Brown. Blaydes is on the other spectrum of the MMA age group, at only 26 and his style is more of a wrestler. He doesn't have any submissions, his strategy is to get people down and keep them there with his Freestyle wrestling, and ground and pound until he finds a TKO or submission. He is currently 3-1 in the UFC, most recently beating Daniel Omielanczuk by decision, which is interesting because this is the only man who has bested Oleynik in the Octagon. This will be a grappling match for sure, as we will see who's strength's play to the others' weaknesses. Blaydes is younger and can find different options against Oleynik, but if they go to the ground, it will be tough for Blaydes to escape the grip of 'The Boa Constrictor'.
Mickey Gall vs. Randy Brown
To kick off the Fox Sports win Prelims, we have an interesting Welterweight contest between undefeated submission specialist Mickey Gall going up against UFC up-and-comer Randy 'Rude Boy' Brown. Gall has impressed so far in the UFC, with his young career going well as he has 4 finishes in his 4 fights. 3 of them came in the UFC, as he came onto the map with his fast win over Phil Brooks aka CM Punk, and most recently his impressive showing against talented young UFC up-and-comer Sage Northcutt. Brown has had ups and downs in his UFC career after an explosive run of finishes in the promotion Ring of Combat. He's 3-2 so far and is looking for a win to show that he is looking seriously to climb the ladder in the stacked UFC 170 lb division. However Gall is looking to do just the same, he is seeking his 5th straight win and 4th in the UFC, and he wants to prove that he can back up every bit of talking he does, as he's done in his previous fights. Brown is well rounded but Gall has underrated striking. What he does have is extremely slick BJJ and with his long limbs, this Gracie Brown Belt is tough to avoid getting tapped by. Brown has been submitted by a lower ranked welterweight who is no longer in the UFC, so if Gall can get it to the ground, it could be trouble.
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Corey Anderson
Next up on the prelims we have an important bout in the Light Heavyweight division, as #6 ranked Ovince Saint Preux will take on #7 Corey Anderson. This division is a bit scrambled right now but this fight will give some ideas as to who's more prepared to go to tougher opponents. St. Preux is a veteran in the UFC, going 9-5 in the promotion. He's currently on a two fight winning streak, beating both of his previous opponents with the Von Flue Shoulder choke, and he wants to extend his winning streak. Anderson is a veteran in the octagon as well, as he holds a 6-3 record in the UFC. He's 1-1 in his two most recent fights, but he's coming off of a KO loss to Jimi Manuwa, and he's looking to get back on the winning track with a good performance against St. Preux. Both men have strong backgrounds in Freestyle Wrestling, so we could see them grapple a bit. However they both have underrated power, just not as precise striking games as the more elite strikers, so its not out of the question we could see them strike it out, looking for a KO. It will be interesting to see which direction this fight goes in and who comes out on top.
Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
In the 3rd fight of the prelims we have a Heavyweight contest that was rescheduled to this pay-per-view after Walt Harris stepped up to fight Fabricio Werdum at UFC 216. In this Bout, Walt Harris will face Mark Godbeer in a 3 round contest. Harris has had a couple of runs in the UFC, but his most recent is his most successful. He has found success recently, with Finishes over Chase Sherman and Cyril Asker, however he still stands at 3-5 in the promotion, and needs a win in this fight with Godbeer as we saw that he is not at Top-Heavyweight level in his performance against Werdum. Godbeer has found success in his most recent fight, and the UFC newcomer stands at 1-1 in the promotion. He is also looking for a win to get his momentum going, hoping to advance in the UFC 265 and under division. The majority of both of these men's wins come from KO/TKO's, so it is safe to assume that these Heavyweights will slug it out to determine the winner. In this division, a finish can come out of nowhere, so don't miss this one!
James Vick vs. Joe Duffy
In the final fight of the preliminaries we have an interesting Lightweight match-up, between up and comers James 'The Texecutioner' Vick and 'Irish' Joe Duffy. Vick is coming into his prime, and after suffering a tough KO loss to Beneil Dariush, he's gotten into the best form of his career, coming back with a Submission win over Abel Trujillo and a TKO over Marco Polo Reyes in May. He now stands at 7-1 in the promotion and is seeking to build his momentum and seek to take on tougher talent in the deep 155lb division. Duffy seeks to do the same, as the Irish MMA vet and UFC newcomer looks to derail the Vick hype train and get another win in the Octagon, where he currently has built up a 4-1 record in his two years with the promotion. This fight is a clash of well rounded fighters that stick to their own style, but can have success with other options. Duffy has had a KO in the UFC, but he's a submission specialist winning 10 of his 16 victories by submission, even owning a Sub win over a young Conor McGregor back in 2010! Conversely, Vick has had his own success with submissions in the UFC, but he primarly uses his boxing style and long reach to keep his opponents at bay. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out, and if there will be a finish!
Paulo Costa vs. Johny Hendricks
To kick off the main card, we have a Middleweight showcase between explosive UFC newcomer Paulo 'Borrachinha' Costa, and UFC veteran Johny 'Bigg Rigg' Hendricks. Hendricks is a true UFC veteran, having been in the promotion since UFC 101 in 2009. He found great success at welterweight over his career, however after going 1-4 in his last 5 fights, he desperately needs a win to show that he still has a bit left in the tank to be able to keep going at the highest level. He's recently made a move to Middleweight where he found success against Hector Lombard, but has most recently been finished by Tim Boetsch. Paulo Borrachinha is the opposite of Hendricks. He's an explosive newcomer who's finished all 10 of his opponents. He's currently 2-0 in the UFC with two TKO victories and his nickname, Portuguese for 'Eraser' could very well make that nickname very relevant as he could erase Hendricks from the current UFC picture in terms of contention. This fight will likely go down on the feet, but it could be interesting to see if Hendricks can incorporate more of his wrestling base to help him get the victory. If he's not careful however, he will just become another finish on the record of Borrachinha, and Paulo will then continue his destructive run.
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
In the last 3 round bout of the night we have a very exciting Welterweight match-up between two top 5 contenders. #2 Ranked Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson will face off against #4 ranked Jorge 'Gamebred' Masvidal. This will be Thompson's first fight since his pair of Battles with current UFC Welterweight champ Tyron Woodley. He's built up a pretty good resume since his debut in 2012, 8-2-1 with wins over the likes of Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, and even current Middleweight interim champion Robert Whittaker when he was at 170 lbs (Thompson stopped him via 1st round TKO). However this will be a tough fight back for him, against a serious contender in Jorge Masvidal. Toughness is his #1 trait, he is simply not scared of fighting anyone. He's found success both at Lightweight and now Welterweight, and owns wins over Ross Pearson, Jake Ellenberger, and even the very tough Donald Cerrone. He's built up a 9-5 record in the UFC and although he's most recently come short against Demian Maia, he is still riding serious momentum and would definitely be in the conversation for a title shot with a win. Both men are skilled strikers and this match up will show who is in their best form between the two. Will Wonderboy's Karate style be too much for Gamebred to handle? Or will Masvidal be the one who uses his unorthodox and powerful striking to put it on Thompson? This one could go either way, and should be very fun to watch.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
In the first of three title bouts on this card, we have a 5 round contest for the UFC Women's Strawweight championship. In this showcase we will have undefeated and defending Women's 115 lb champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk going up against #4 ranked contender and title challenger 'Thug' Rose Namajunas. Joanna comes into this fight feeling invincible, and rightly so. At 8-0 in the UFC, she's fought her way to the top of the Women's 115lb. Division and hasn't looked back. After taking the title from Carla Esparza by KO back in 2015, Joanna has successfully defended her title 5 times, showing her ability to bring constant punishment over 5 rounds, or until her opponent drops. However it's hard to say whether or not she's faced someone as mentally tough as Rose. She's currently 4-2 in the UFC and although she's faced some adversity, she shows that she is still one of the top contenders at 115 lbs and with dominant wins over Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson, she shows that she's ready for a shot at gold. With this division and how new it is, the limited talent, it's hard to say exactly how this fight will go down, but one thing is for certain is that both of these women will fight to their last breath for that title. Joanna has great scrambles that get her out of trouble on the ground, but can Rose find a way to keep her down and submit her? We'll see!
UFC 217 Countdown: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas
Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillasha
In the co-main event of the evening we have a huge Bantamweight contest, another 5-round showcase this one, for the UFC Bantamweight Championship of the world. 135 pound champion Cody 'No Love' Garbrandt will face off against former teammate turned rival, TJ Dillashaw. Cody Garbrandt, the young Team Alpha Male product, has lit the UFC on fire with his stint in the Octagon and subsequent title win. He came off a 5-fight T/KO win streak to debut, and after winning that he has since gone undefeated in the Octagon, a perfect 6-0. His latest win was dominant performance, which came by way of Unanimous Decision over Dominick Cruz, winning him the title. His dominance over skilled 135ers like Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugaki showed initially how good he was, and he hasn't stopped since. Now, enter the man who held the 135 title before Cruz, TJ Dillashaw. In his recent wins over top Bantamweight contenders Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker, he showed that he is still to be considered one of the top 3 Bantamweights in the UFC. He's built up a 10-3 record in the UFC since his debut in 2013, and he's always been one of the best in the promotion. This fight is somewhat of a clash of styles. TJ likes to incorporate takedowns with his striking and his wrestling base allows him to do this with ease, along with the fact that he has trained grappling with Team Alpha Male's skilled ground artists before. Cody on the other hand, fights mostly on his feet, and uses his hands primarily. We will see if the emotion surrounding this fight causes these men to stand and bang it out, or if they will be strategic and take it step by step. Considering all of the pre-fight drama and hype, this one should be one of the best fights of the year and will definitely not disappoint.
UFC 217 Countdown: Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw
Michel Bisping vs. George St-Pierre
In the main event of this card we have one of the most anticipated returns in UFC history, and one of the biggest fights of the year. In the 5-round main event, we will have a Championship bout for the UFC Middleweight title. Champion Michael 'The Count' Bisping will be defending his title for the 2nd time, this time against former UFC welterweight champion, Georges 'Rush' St-Pierre. Bisping comes into this fight as one of the best UFC fighters to step in the octagon. He's a true veteran of the UFC, and since winning the Ultimate Fighter 3, he's built up a 20-7 record. His most dominant run has come most recently, when he won his title against Luke Rockhold on short notice. He has since defended the title against Dan Henderson and remains one of the great fighters in UFC history, but he wanted something still, a money fight. That money fight came, and it came from one of the other greatest in UFC history: GSP. St-Pierre can be considered a UFC original, making his debut when it first started gaining traction, in 2004 at UFC 46. After that he went on to build up a tremendous 19-2 record in the octagon, winning himself a championship in the process, and winning fights against some of the best to ever participate in MMA, beating the likes of; Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, and more. This fight is essentially a fight between to UFC greats, and although it may not make sense in the current picture of the UFC, it is one for all of the longtime fans and those who have wanted to see a fight between these two veterans. While GSP has utilized takedowns well before, we will see if his nearly 4 year octagon layoff will be too much for him to handle, or if he will find a way to beat the count. Or will Bisping's skill and cardio be enough to hold off a freshly returning GSP? This fight is easily the most hyped on the card and for good reason, we all just want to see the outcome!! This one is interesting, and has the potential to make or break the card, and the future of the UFC middleweight division.
Let's see how this one goes!