Three New Champions in the UFC After Wild UFC 217 Lives Up to Hype
UFC 217 was anticipated as one of the biggest cards of the year and didn’t fail to meet those expectations.
Updated: Nov. 5, 2017 • 2:55 PM ET
Georges "Rush" St-Pierre reclaimed UFC gold this past Saturday.
Thanks to a wild and crazy night at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, the UFC has three new champions.
Some tagged UFC 217 as the best card of the year, and the event certainly lived up to the hype. The card gave people what they want to see out of a high-priced event: finishes. Some were more unexpected than others, but the event was quite a spectacle and now opens a forum of many questions heading into 2018.
In the first of the three title fights, and perhaps the most shocking, Rose Namajunas claimed the women’s strawweight title by making longtime champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk tap due to strikes in the first round. Namajunas landed a picture-perfect overhand right, dropping Jedrzejczyk, which led to the strikes on the ground that finished the fight. This came after Namajunas had already dropped the champion shortly after the first round started.
It was a one-sided fight that couldn’t have been predicted by anyone but Namajunas and her team. The loss was the first in nine fights for Jedrzejczyk and ended one of the greatest championship reigns in UFC history. So the question now will be, how quickly does the UFC give her the chance at getting the title back?
Meanwhile, Namajunas claimed her first title at just 25 years old and has answered whether she has reached elite status.
In a bantamweight title fight and co-main event of the evening, TJ Dillashaw reclaimed the belt after a second round knockout of Cody Garbrandt. The win gives Dillashaw the title for the second time in his career and solidifies an enduring chase of the crown that he felt he never lost.
“This belt was around my waist the whole time in my head,” Dillashaw said during his Octagon interview.
Garbrandt dropped Dillashaw at the end of the first round and the fight could have ended differently had he had more time in the round to finish the fight. Dillashaw recovered between rounds and used his trademark movement and footwork to land a head kick in the second round that created the necessary momentum for him to finish the fight.
“He’s a hell of a fighter, he’s young, he’s going to be back,” Dillashaw said of Garbrandt. “The kid’s tough, he hits hard. You can condition your chin. I got caught with a big right, but I bounced right back.”
Dillashaw previously held the title from May 2014, when he defeated Renan Barao, until January 2016, when he lost a split decision to Dominick Cruz, who then lost the title to Garbrandt. The win was the seventh in eight fights for the new champ.
As for what’s next for Dillashaw, he wants to go for a second belt against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
“Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you,” Dillashaw said. “You’ve got that record that’s fake, you dodged me, and I’m coming for that belt and you know it.”
In the main event, Georges St-Pierre cemented his legacy and reminded everyone that he’s on a short list of greatest UFC fighters of all time. The former, longtime UFC welterweight champion returned to the Octagon for the first time in four years and captured a tremendous upset over Michael Bisping to win the UFC middleweight title. St-Pierre became just the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold championships in two different weight classes after submitting Bisping in the third round.
“I don’t have a word in my mouth right now,” St-Pierre said after earning his 13th consecutive victory. “It’s a dream come true, guys. Thank you for the support, it’s my dream come true.”
St-Pierre landed a heavy left hook that dropped Bisping, leading to the finish. GSP landed elbows that forced Bisping to scramble away, leading to St-Pierre sinking in a rear-naked choke for the submission victory. Bisping was a warrior to the end, never tapping and eventually going unconscious.
With the win, St-Pierre joins Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and Conor McGregor as the UFC’s only two-weight class champions. So now the ultimate question, which has been looming since the fight was booked, is what will GSP do next?
Rounding out the main event, Stephen Thompson won a unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal in a welterweight fight and Paulo Costa defeated Johny Hendricks via second round TKO in a middleweight fight.
The change of three titles resulted in bonuses for St-Pierre, Dillashaw and Namajunas. In the prelims Ovince Saint Preux landed a devastating, Knockout of the Year candidate type head kick on Corey Anderson in a light heavyweight bout, and Ricardo Ramos got the evening started with a beautiful spinning back elbow to defeat Aiemann Zahabi. Both competitors also took home bonuses.