UFC 217 - The Complete Main Card Breakdown

Date: Sunday 5th November, 2am (UK)

Location: New York City, New York

Venue: Madison Square Garden

Michael Bisping vs Georges St Pierre

Georges St-Pierre’s long-awaited return comes in the form of a glittering main event for Michael Bisping’s middleweight championship. St-Pierre (GSP) has been out of the game for four years but during his career he thoroughly earned his reputation as one of the best champions and fighters of all time. With the absence of Conor McGregor, the UFC are desperate for stars and have decided to push GSP to the front of the middleweight queue to headline one of the biggest cards of the year.

For a detailed breakdown of this fight, click here: https://www.thestatszone.com/michael-bisping-vs-georges-st-pierre-all-the-stats-you-need-to-know-for-the-superfight

There is a lot on the line for both fighters and this isn’t just a money fight. GSP is a legend and is desperate to remind the fans of how dominant he was. Many feel he won’t return the same after such a long time out but GSP has always remained in fighting shape, training tirelessly behind the scenes and in the build-up for this fight he has repeatedly stated that he is in the best shape of his life. This has given him the confidence to call out the current champion in the weight class above the division he gained all his success.

Taking offence to this call-out, Bisping believes GSP has hand-picked him for an easy fight. Never been more motivated in his career, Bisping is riding the wave of his superstardom, aware he hasn’t got much time left at the top of the game. He wants this fight and this win badly and if he does come out on top, he has to be considered as one of the all-time greats of the UFC.

It will be fascinating to see how GSP tackles the heart and will of Bisping as well as the size, stepping up from welterweight. The key stat highlighted in the statistical breakdown is the takedown accuracy and the takedown defence. We have outlined how their attributes compare but the result of the fight could easily hinge on whether Bisping can either avoid or spring back up from the inevitable takedown attempts of GSP. The size of Bisping will aid him but the stamina of both men will also be crucial.

Bisping v GSP.JPG

Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw

The second title fight of the night is a colossal clash and one of the most anticipated bantamweight fights of all time. Cody Garbrandt makes his first defence of his belt against former team mate and foe, TJ Dillashaw. This is a genuine grudge match overflowing with bad flood originating from Dillashaw’s departure of their team (Team Alpha Male), a decision which Garbrandt took very personally.

They now square off after Garbrandt surged up the bantamweight division and took on one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in Dominick Cruz. Garbrandt was a big underdog but carried confidence of finishing all but one of his fights via knockout. On the night he was mesmerising. He took Cruz on at his own game - out-working, out-moving and out-striking the champion. Debilitating injuries throughout Cruz’s career and on the night played its part in his performance but taking nothing away from Garbrandt – he earned the belt and champion status.

In 2014, Dillashaw had his own Garbrandt moment when he toppled Renan Barao when the Brazilian was sitting on a record of 32-1-0 (1). After a couple of title defences, he lost the belt to Cruz via a tight decision but has earned a shot to get his belt back and with the history of these former training partners, this bout was inevitable.

Watching closely from the sidelines will be Cruz who was really the inspiration of both these fighters. The division was practically built on his achievements as Garbrandt and Dillashaw looked on in admiration and jealousy. For years they studied his fighting style, knowing one day they would meet him in the cage and you can see how elements of their success have stemmed from Cruz’s fighting style.

They are now ahead of him in the pecking order and have evolved their own successful styles. They are both incredibly athletic and quick with immense stamina but Dillashaw is the more cerebral fighter, leveraging his skills via tactical game plans, whereas Garbrandt is more of an assassin and an emotional fighter with one-punch knockout power.

This fight combines the highest skill level in striking with the highest amount of animosity and there is so much more on the line than just the belt. Pride will be an overwhelming factor but holding the belt means opportunities for super fights and these will evaporate with a loss.

The key stat highlighted is the significant strike defence, which is on a different level to most fighters as it is with hypnotising movement patterns. As they are both expected to throw at their usual ferocious pace for five rounds, their defence will be crucial to gaining the upper hand.

Garbrandt v Dillashaw.JPG

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas

The first title fight of three in Madison Square Garden features two of the most exciting female fighters in the UFC. The ascending fan-favourite Rose Namajunas is gunning for the strawweight title which belongs to the imperious Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

As usual, Jedrzejczyk is the favourite. She has looked phenomenal is every fight in the UFC and she has amassed her unbeaten record by sticking to her strengths and application of Kickboxing and Muay Thai, dismantling every opponent that has stood in front of her, whether that be grapplers or fellow high-level strikers – she is simply on a different level. The Poland native has been tested and been in wars with the likes of Claudia Gadelha, Jessica Andrade and Karolina Kowalkiewicz but she has battled like a true champion, always finding a way to wreak the most damage and earn the victory.

The next threat to her crown is the #4 ranked Namajunas. Although this looks like a mismatch on paper, she possesses a dangerous skillset and has improved drastically in each fight since her introduction on The Ultimate Fighter and has earned her shot after an extremely impressive win over fellow strawweight prospect, Michelle Waterson. Namajunas is also a nasty striker, owning black belts in Karate and Taekwondo, but in the octagon we have seen more of her blossoming ground game with three rear-naked chokes.

So Namajunas has the credentials to stand and trade with Jedrzejczyk. However, matching the quality and output for five rounds instead of three is a different ball game. The champion has experience enduring the championship rounds, extinguishing takedowns and out-striking with high octane but Namajunas has little to lose. She is young, hungry and gets better in every fight, bringing more unpredictability than all of Jedrzejczyk’s previous opponents.

There are two key stats highlighted for this fight. Firstly, the takedown defence of Jedrzejczyk will have to be on point as usual. Namajunas is expected to take the fight away from Jedrzejczyk’s strengths and to the ground but if she can’t, she may hold her own on the feet but the sheer volume of strikes the champion will throw is likely to be the deciding factor in the result.

JJ v Namajunas.JPG

Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal

What an incredible match-up, the perfect appetiser for the three title fights to follow. Stephen Thompson and Jorge Masvidal epitomize what fans love about MMA. Two impeccable, contrasting yet similar athletes. Masvidal - a born fighter, mean and rugged up against Thompson - a true artist and graceful master of his art, yet they both possess the same toughness and impermeable will to win.

Thompson is coming off his unsuccessful chapter with Tyron Woodley where he challenged for his title twice, drawing the first and narrowly losing the second. These were very close fights where the champion demonstrated the perfect tactics to nullify the striking expert.

Masvidal is also coming off a loss which was at the hands of Demian Maia. However, even in defeat, Masvidal showed his class in going toe-to-toe with the world class grappler, again, narrowly missing out via decision.

This fight promises to be a different exhibition. Masvidal is expected to go at the champion kickboxer in his usual aggressive manner, apply pressure and make him fight which Thompson will happily oblige, waiting for the smallest of opportunities to pounce. Thompson loves to force his opponents to engage in a chess game, almost like a puppeteer, setting traps and countering with laser-like precision, but Masvidal doesn’t play any games inside the cage. If he wants to inflict damage on the feet or on the ground, he usually gets his way.

As the fight is only three rounds it will be fought at a high pace and it will be riveting to see how Masvidal copes with Thompson’s exceptional range control. If he struggles to close the distance and is getting picked apart by Thompson’s snake-like attacks he may call upon his wrestling. However, Thompson has proven just how difficult it is to be kept down and on the other hand, Masvidal has proven how adaptable he is, whether it’s grappling with Maia or out-striking Donald Cerrone. Who’s to say his seasoned boxing won’t be enough to inflict damage of his own on the feet? What we do know is that they both have the toughness and durability to weather any storm and take the fight into deep waters.

See below for the statistical breakdown. The key stat highlighted is the reach and in particular, the leg reach. Thompson will rely on all four limbs combined with movement to control the distance but we will have to see whether that will be enough to stop the offence and aggression of Masvidal.

Thompson v Masvidal.JPG

Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Borrachinha

The main card for UFC 217 kicks off in style featuring two bruisers at two very contrasting stages of their career. Johny Hendricks is a UFC veteran but since earning the welterweight title in 2015 he has gone 2-5 in the UFC, hardly showing a glimpse of the performances that lead to him becoming the champion. Borrachinha on the other hand has rocketed to 10-0, disposing every opponent in brutal fashion.

Hendricks has not enjoyed his middleweight chapter so far. He moved up from welterweight after a string of losses and several gruelling weight cuts. However, after a successful middleweight debut against Hector Lombard, he missed weight before his fight with Tim Boetsch. Missing the weight again with 15 more pounds to spare clearly shows Hendricks is out of sorts and is desperate for a win to rejuvenate and even save his UFC career.

Unfortunately for him, he has been handed an absolute beast in Borrachinha. He is young, hungry and a natural finisher with explosive power. He is a lot bigger than Hendricks with a height and reach advantage which stacks the odds in his favour. Another stunning finish in just the Brazilian’s third UFC fight will surely throw him into the middleweight rankings, but you cannot sleep on the experience of Hendricks and on the biggest stage at Madison Square Garden, anything can happen.

See below for the statistical breakdown with the key stat highlighted as their tally of knockouts. Borrachinha will be hunting the chin from the bell but Hendricks has proven he can also end the night of his opponents in one single blow. If he doesn’t back himself to stand with the young prospect, Hendricks will surely rely on his wrestling which is a different class. If he does decide to stand, the fight could be over very quickly.

Hendricks v Borrachinha.JPG