UFC 217 is live tonight on PPV from the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden in New York City. The card is stacked from top to bottom with not one, not two but three huge title fights and the return of a legend!
Here are my official predictions for the entire card. Stay tuned to FightPurist.com throughout the night for updates.
Quick Pick Prelims:
Aiemann Zahabi def Ricardo Ramos via 2nd RD TKO
Oleksiy Oliynk def Curtis Blaydes via 1st RD TKO
Mickey Gall def Randy Brown by 1st RD submission
Ovince St-Preux def Corey Anderson by split decision
Mark Godbeer def Walt Harris by unanimous decision
James Vick def Joseph Duffy by 1st RD TKO
PPV Main Card:
Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Costa
Hendricks has looked awful since dropping the title in 2014 to Robbie Lawler, going 2-4 since that fight and not showing any signs of improvement. After his last loss, Hendricks packed his bags and moved to Albuqerque, NM to train at Jackson-Wink MMA.
Because that worked out great for BJ Penn right?
Nothing against Jackson-Wink but it’s a little too late to teach an old dog new tricks. Look for Costa to make his mark and put the former welterweight champ out of his misery. Costa is one of the most dangerous strikers in the middleweight division and he will showcase that tonight live on PPV.
Prediction: Costa by 2nd RD TKO
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
Despite coming up short in his recent attempt at claiming UFC gold against Tyron Woodley, I still consider Thompson one of the best fighters on the planet pound-for-pound. In terms of pure striking ability, there’s nobody in the division that can outpoint him on the feet.
Masvidal is a very explosive fighter with a ton of knockout power but I don’t see him being able to catch “Wonderboy”. Look for Thompson to put on a striking clinic en route to a landslide unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Thompson by unanimous decision
UFC Women’s Strawweight Title- Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
Normally I would pick Jedrzejczyk to retain her title here but my gut is telling me otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Jedrzejczyk is an incredible champion–arguably one of the greatest that this sport has ever seen but Namajunas isn’t someone you want to rile up.
In the lead up to this fight, Joanna has been vicious in her trash talk of the challenger. She has gotten inside of Namajunas’ head and has tried to break her mentally before they step into the Octagon. This type of mental warfare would work on a lot of girls but Namajunas isn’t one of them.
“Thug” Rose is a straight up killer and the more you piss her off, the harder she’s going to come at you when the cage door shuts. Of course, that is probably Joanna’s strategy but I could see it backfiring in a big way.
Is Namajunas a better fighter than Jedrzejczyk? No, I don’t believe so. But she’s hungrier than ever and this could be her time. I’ll take a chance here and pick the upset.
Prediction: Namajunas by 4th RD submission
UFC Bantamweight Title- Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw
After seeing Garbrandt dethrone Dominick Cruz back at UFC 207, I said publically that he will rule the bantamweight division for a very long time. But I also said the same thing when Dillashaw beat down Renan Barao three years ago.
These two former training partners turned bitter rivals are more alike each other than they are different. Both have amazing footwork, phenomenal speed, superior head movement, solid wrestling and heavy hands.
I’ll give Garbrandt the slight edge and will pick him here to win a fairly close but unanimous decision victory to retain his title.
Prediction: Garbrandt by unanimous decision
UFC Middleweight Title- Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre
After a four year hiatus, longtime welterweight kingpin St-Pierre has finally returned to the Octagon and is looking to capture gold in a heavier weight class against middleweight champ Bisping.
This reminds me of when Randy Couture moved up in weight at UFC 68 to challenge then heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia. It worked out well for Couture but I don’t expect GSP to have similar success with Bisping.
While it is difficult to determine how much GSP has improved over the years, moving up in weight against a guy like Bisping is a mistake.
For GSP to win this fight, he’s going to have to put Bisping on his back and keep him there. I think he’s going to have a hell of a time doing that.
Say what you want about Bisping but he has some of the best takedown defense in the sport. Even when he gets taken down, he usually props back up to his feet pretty quickly.
Yes, I know it’s St-Pierre; the guy who took down everyone at 170 lbs and dominated the division forever but middleweight is a different ball game. Look for Bisping to keep the fight standing and brutalize St-Pierre with strikes throughout five rounds.
Prediction: Bisping by unanimous decision
Mitchell Ciccarelli is the owner and Chief Editor of FightPurist.com. His work has been syndicated on SI.com and FoxSports.com. He is a U.S Air Force NCO and a brand ambassador for DAS Labs/Bucked Up Supplements. Follow Mitchell on IG @Sarge_America