UFC 217 Results: Matches to Make for the Winners and Losers
The UFC returned to Madison Square Garden in New York with another three-title main card extravaganza for UFC 217 Saturday.
All three titles up for grabs changed hands.
Georges St-Pierre made a triumphant return in the main event by choking out Michael Bisping and taking his middleweight title. TJ Dillashaw knocked out Cody Garbrandt to reclaim the 135-pound crown. Oh, and in the most surprising result, Rose Namajunas floored Joanna Jedrzejczyk for a first-round victory that put her on to the strawweight throne.
It was a spectacular night with results that will make the UFC smile ear to ear. New stars were formed, an old star returned to form and 2018 is looking fantastic.
What are the possible matchups awaiting the winners and losers following UFC 217?
That is exactly what we are ready to break down. Here are the matches to make following MSG's wild night of fights.
Preliminary Fights Quick Hits
Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi by KO at 1:58 of the third round
- Aiemann Zahabi vs. Andre Soukhamthath
- Ricardo Ramos vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez
Curtis Blaydes def. Aleksei Oleinik by TKO at 1:56 of the second round
- Aleksei Oleinik vs. Damian Grabowski
- Curtis Blaydes vs. the winner of Marcin Tybura vs. Fabricio Werdum (November 19)
Randy Brown def. Mickey Gall by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
- Mickey Gall vs. Luke Jumeau
- Randy Brown vs. Shinsho Anzai
Ovince Saint Preux def. Corey Anderson by KO at 1:25 of the third round
- Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Mauricio Rua
Mark Godbeer def. Walt Harris by DQ at 4:29 of the second round
- Walt Harris vs. Chris De La Rocha
- Mark Godbeer vs. Marcelo Golm
James Vick def. Joseph Duffy by TKO at 4:59 of the second round
- Joseph Duffy vs. Alvaro Herrera
- James Vick vs. Kevin Lee
Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Costa
Paulo Costa def. Johny Hendricks by TKO at 1:23 of the second round.
If the UFC is seeking someone to reinvigorate the Brazilian market, they may have the solution in Paulo Costa. He is carved from granite, has a fan-pleasing style and picked up a big victory at UFC 217.
Hendricks is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He looks shot. His move to Jackson-Winkeljohn may pay dividends, and I am excited to see his progression at the new camp. But from a business perspective, it makes little sense to keep him on the roster.
Hendricks is 2-6 in his past eight fights, with his two most recent losses coming by way of TKO at middleweight. Hendricks is not able to compete at 185 and can't make 170 any longer. The risk with Hendricks isn't worth his price tag in the UFC. There's still a good market for Hendricks in Bellator, Rizin and One FC. The UFC should sever ties.
Costa is a tricky fighter to explore fight possibilities for following UFC 217. Should the UFC test out the undefeated fighter against a top-10 opponent, or does it bring him along slowly? I'm siding with the former in large part due to the logjammed title situation. It means a loss would not drastically hamper his standing in the division.
Chris Weidman needs an opponent to help bolster his claim for a title shot in 2018. Costa would be a great feather in his cap, and it would also be a big test for the Brazilian. This fight could easily main-event any Fight Night.
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
Wonderboy put in a workmanlike performance to get by a stiff challenger Saturday.
Jorge Masvidal is a tough out for anyone but has continually failed to be a legitimate title threat. It's unfortunate, but his role as a top-tier gatekeeper is valuable. I'll pass on naming his next opponent, and you'll see why shortly.
As for Stephen Thompson: Welcome back to the title hunt.
Thompson will still need another win or two before challenging as long as Tyron Woodley holds the welterweight belt. That opens the door for other contenders to try to take Thompson's position near the top of the rankings.
After Darren Till dispatched of Donald Cerrone, I suggested he face the winner of this fight. Till vs. Thompson would be electric. That's just about the only top-10-level matchup that makes sense until others get done with their upcoming fights.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by TKO at 3:03 of the first round.
Whoa! Wow! Oh my!
Rose Namajunas was always a live dog in this matchup, but it was the submission threat that most identified as her biggest weapon against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. No one thought about her hanging with the talented striker in the stand-up. But she leveled the champion and took the gold.
When a dominant champion loses, it is usually customary to give them an immediate rematch. That is unless they get defeated as Jedrzejczyk was at UFC 217. She will need a rebound fight first—if she stays at 115.
Jedrzejczyk will have additional opportunities at flyweight. If she stays at 115, Jedrzejczyk's opponent will likely depend upon who gets left out of the Namajunas' first defense. That's likely the winner of Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson (December 2). At flyweight, give her Andrea Lee in a title eliminator.
Rose's first title defense will be against one of three women: the aforementioned winner of Torres vs. Waterson, Jessica Andrade or Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
It should be Andrade. The Brazilian would have needed another win or two before challenging Jedrzejczyk for the second time, but the loss means she's the logical contender. Andrade upset Claudia Gadelha to state her case as the top contender, and she's ready for the challenge.
Namajunas vs. Andrade should headline a Fox card to put those talented women on a big platform for all to see.
Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw
TJ Dillashaw def. Cody Garbrandt by KO at 2:41 of the second round.
TJ Dillashaw was almost finished in the first round, but he rebounded to shut Cody Garbrandt's lights off in the second frame.
At the post-fight presser, Garbrandt repeatedly said he wants a rematch. He won't get one right away. But he will end up in a title eliminator. Raphael Assuncao meets Matthew Lopez at UFC Fight Night 120 (November 11). The winner of that should meet Garbrandt.
Dillashaw's first bantamweight title defense is easy. It's the winner of Jimmie Rivera vs. Dominick Cruz (December 30). But that's not the fight Dillashaw, or the UFC, wants. He wants to challenge the most dominant champion on the roster, and the greatest of all time, Demetrious Johnson.
In his post-fight interview in the cage, and at the post-fight press conference, Dillashaw said just that. He wants Mighty Mouse. And that's the fight to make. It's endlessly intriguing and one magnificent stylistic chess match.
TJ vs. DJ is the fight to book.
Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre
Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:23 of the third round.
Georges St-Pierre's return was not pristine, but it was golden.
The former welterweight kingpin moved up to middleweight and choked out the champion to become the fourth UFC fighter to win titles in two divisions behind Randy Couture, BJ Penn and Conor McGregor.
Michael Bisping is coming to the end of his long tenure in the UFC. It's undetermined how much longer he has, but his career is definitely nearing its conclusion. As such, there's little reason to book him against another monster contender in his next outing. A rematch with Luke Rockhold is tempting but not the right move.
Jorge Masvidal and Bisping had a war of words multiple times throughout fight week. That's a great fight to book. Masvidal may be undersized, but he's a great fight against Bisping. Masvidal's boxing against Bisping's boxing is a fun contest that makes sense for the UFC's return to London in 2018.
The logical fight for GSP, as champion, is to unify the belt with interim champion Robert Whittaker in Australia. But let's throw logic out the window and do what's best for business.
The biggest money fight the UFC could possibly do is GSP vs. Conor McGregor for the middleweight title.
The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire asked UFC President Dana White about the possibility via text, and White replied, "Noooo." Well, if that's the fight McGregor and St-Pierre demand, then that is the fight that the UFC will have to make happen. And both parties should demand it.
McGregor, again, has nothing to lose against the larger foe. He only stands to make history—which he loves achieving. Oh, and truckloads of cash. And GSP gets to be in another history-making fight and can cash out too.
Hardcore fans may bemoan it on social media, but every single one would tune in for that fight. GSP vs. McGregor is the be-all and end-all matchup on the UFC's slate. It's the I Ching. It is exactly what needs to happen.