UFC 217 tips: Best bets for Bisping v St-Pierre in New York
We make our pick for the middleweight title fight at Madison Square Garden, plus the rest of the bouts on a fantastic card.
Michael Bisping v Georges St-Pierre
Bisping’s second middleweight title defence hinges on how well his opponent comes back from a four-year lay-off.
GSP hasn’t fought since a gruelling welterweight title defence against Johny Hendricks in 2013, which he won by split decision, and the UFC legend will likely have lost a step at the age of 36.
If he is in good condition, however, he should manage to beat Bisping and win his second UFC title.
Bisping is perhaps the least convincing champion in the UFC, having only defended his title once against Dan Henderson, who wasn’t even ranked at the time.
The Englishman came close to losing that fight, too, having been floored twice by huge right hands.
Bisping was a good, but not great, middleweight before he won the belt with a stunning KO of Luke Rockhold in 2016, and that remains his only win over a truly elite fighter in their prime.
He’ll hold advantages over GSP in both stamina and reach, but the Canadian is the superior wrestler and will control this fight if he can get inside Bisping’s jab.
It should be a close one, but St-Pierre’s class should ultimately see him take the belt.
Cody Garbrandt v TJ Dillashaw
This fight is so good that it really deserves to be headlining a card of its own.
Garbrandt has been tipped as a potential crossover star, and his speed, footwork and one-punch knockout power make him arguably the UFC’s most exciting champion not named Conor McGregor.
In Dillashaw, he faces a former bantamweight champion who is almost a good a striker and probably holds the advantage on the mat.
The pair have feuded ever since Dillashaw left Garbrandt’s Team Alpha Male, and they almost came to blows several times on the last season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Don’t expect them to just go out and swing, though. This should be a tactical battle between two really intelligent fighters.
Garbrandt’s performance in his last fight against Dominick Cruz – in which he clearly outclassed a legend of the sport who had already beaten Dillashaw – suggests he has the edge here.
The 26-year-old could have finished Cruz inside the distance had he not celebrated with a little dance every time he scored a knockdown.
He completely outfoxed the then-champion and should do the same to Dillashaw on Saturday night.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk v Rose Namajunas
Jedrzejczyk is perhaps the best pound-for-pound striker in the UFC.
The strawweight champion is undefeated in his 14-fight MMA career, and has seen off every single one of her challengers pretty comfortably.
She utilises vicious elbows with her Muay Thai style, and should again come out on top against Namajunas.
The 25-year-old is a decent striker and a submission specialist, who took out Michelle Waterson with a rear-naked choke in her last fight in April.
Namajunas has lost three times in her nine-fight career, however, and was beaten by Karolina Kowalkiewicz – who Jedrzejczyk outpointed easily a year ago – in the fight before she took on Waterson.
She’ll try to take the champion down and dominate on the mat, but Jedrzejczyk has shown no weaknesses at all to date and should ease to her fifth successive points win.
Stephen Thompson v Jorge Masvidal
Thompson needs a win to get back into the welterweight title picture after a draw and a loss to champion Tyron Woodley, and he should get one against Masvidal.
At 6ft, ‘Wonderboy’ is one of the tallest fighters in the division, and he is a master of using his reach with a professional kickboxing record of 57 wins and no defeats.
Masivdal is a fine boxer and wrestler who took out Donald Cerrone with a fantastic performance in January, but he lost his last bout against Demian Maia four months later.
He’ll put pressure on Thompson, but perhaps lacks the class and reach to get inside and trouble the 34-year-old.
Masvidal has only been stopped once in 44 fights, so a points win for Thompson is the likeliest outcome.
Johny Hendricks v Paolo Borrachina
This could be Hendricks’ last chance in the UFC, after losing four of his last five fights and missing weight on several occasions.
The 34-year-old’s career has plummeted since a narrow decision defeat in a welterweight title bout against GSP in 2013, and if he loses on Saturday it’s hard to see where he goes next.
Unfortunately for the American, he’s now facing one of the middleweight division’s scariest prospects in Borrachina.
The Brazilian is huge, fast and powerful, and has only gone past the first round on one occasion in his 10-fight career – a second-round KO of Oluwale Bamgbose in his last fight in June.
After a tough run for Hendricks it seems almost unfair to throw him in against Borrachina, and it’s hard to see him lasting long against the 26-year-old.