Was UFC 217 the best fight card the organization has ever put on? Most will say that’s a definitive yes. It would feature three championship fights on the top of the card. And, all three champions would go down in defeat. Not only that, but all three fights would finish.
The night also proved that sometimes when you talk too much, it can come back to bite you. Three such talkers got bitten at UFC 217.
The main event, of course, featured the return of Georges St-Pierre after a four-year layoff. It also saw him move up in weight to dethrone Michael Bisping as middleweight champion. However, the card was loaded from bottom to top. And it had everything—including a controversial disqualification.
Word is that UFC 217 sold over one million pay-per-views. Moreover, Dana White admitted that the final numbers will crush those of the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather event earlier this year.
The biggest news of the night is probably a toss-up between GSP’s triumphant return and the huge upset of Joanna Jędrzejczyk at the hands of Rose Namajunas. This card will be hard to top. But also, one of the most obvious takes from UFC 217 was the impressive show of sportsmanship—and lack thereof—by some of the combatants.
So without further ado—let’s take a look at the three main fights, shall we?
Rose Namajunas versus Joanna Jędrzejczyk
This would be the first of three title bouts. Not only that, but the first one was between two women. One, of course, who thought she was the next great thing. Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s ego has been growing in leaps and bounds since winning the women’s strawweight title in 2015. Just like Ronda Rousey before her, Jędrzejczyk believed her own hype and thought she was invincible.
But Rose Namajunas was not fazed by Jędrzejczyk’s cockiness and arrogance. She even ignored the fist in the face that the former Polish champion exhibited during the pre-fight staredown.
Namajunas calmly went out in the first round, waited for the right opportunity, and knocked Jędrzejczyk to the canvas where she forced her to tap because of the amount of strikes Rose was reigning down upon her. It’s one thing to have a referee stop a fight because of strikes. It’s a whole other thing to tap with your title on the line.
T.J. Dillashaw versus Cody Garbrandt
Like Jędrzejczyk, Cody Garbrandt did enough trash talking to cover several fights. Both fighters also made their smack talk extremely personal. Like Jędrzejczyk, Garbrandt thought victory over T.J. Dillashaw was a sure thing. Meanwhile, Dillashaw spent the media time leading up to the fight defending himself and the many accusations thrown at him.
But once he stepped inside the cage, he coolly kept his composure and went to work.
The champion actually rocked Dillashaw late in the first round—and if there had been more time before the bell, there’s a good chance Garbrandt would have stopped the challenger. But the round ended and Dillashaw survived. Then halfway through Round 2, Dillashaw knocked down Garbrandt with a kick, then again with a solid right—all before finishing him off with a flurry of strikes.
Georges St-Pierre versus Michael Bisping
The incredible night of fights had a finale for the ages. Nobody knew what to expect from St-Pierre after being out of the Octagon for four years. The former Canadian welterweight champion was now fighting as a middleweight. Yet there were no signs of rust against the bigger and more aggressive Bisping.
St-Pierre simply schooled the champion.
Despite a nasty cut on the bridge of his nose and a mask of blood on his face, St-Pierre was able to get a knockdown of Bisping and work his ground game into a position where he was able to get a rear-naked choke on the champion—ultimately putting him to sleep. Once again, Georges St-Pierre is a world champion. And this time, he did it with style.
So, UFC 217 will go down was one of the best, most exciting cards in the sport’s history. It will also be remembered for some of the worst trash talking ever. Those negative aspects belong primarily to Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Cody Garbrandt. Jędrzejczyk would refuse to shake the hand of Rose Namajunas following their fight. And in the post-fight press conference, it didn’t get any better.
Jędrzejczyk even went as far to say Namajunas landed a lucky punch. But her worst actions came leading up to the fight saying things like she was going to “F” Namajunas up and “take her soul.” Of course, her worst moment came in tapping out. And in doing so, surrendering her title without trying to stand up.
As for Garbrandt, Dillashaw’s brother yelled just a word or two at Garbrandt when the fight was stopped. Garbrandt then fired back with several choice curse words, showing no class in losing. In the press conference, the former champion tried to convince the media he is still the better fighter. His worst moment came when he continued to say that Dillashaw is not a good person. Instead, describing the new champion with several choice curse words.
While the two former champions were embarrassing themselves, Rose Namajunas was the complete opposite. Instead, she displayed some of the finest moments of class, sportsmanship, and civility ever seen in the UFC. She explained there is no room for trash talking in this sport before expressing her desire to make the world a better place. Her spiritual side became obvious and her post-fight press conference was a breath of fresh air. Her effort to put the championship she just won into perspective was outstanding.
Dana White told the media he doesn’t like the trash talking but who does he think he’s kidding. He loves that stuff. Hell, he encourages it. But the bottom line is that GSP is back and with Namajunas, those two will certainly bring a positive side back to the sport. UFC 217 did so much good for the organization. And it came at a time when the UFC needed a shot in the arm.
The final fighter at the press conference was Michael Bisping. Not only was he very funny, but Bisping was very respectful and honest about his loss. He took the loss like a true champion would. And as a dig at those who resorted to whining, Bisping said “Every time you fight, one man’s going to win and one man’s going to lose. That’s what you sign up for. You can’t cry like a little bitch.”
In a final word, this great night of fights showed us one thing. The UFC does not need Conor McGregor to help make the sport bigger or more popular. There are a whole lot of fighters that can make the sport grow in a very positive way. It begins with the three new champions just crowned.
Georges St-Pierre is immensely popular. Namajunas is going to be a champion with class. We have Dillashaw now challenging Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson for his flyweight title. Plus, other exciting names like Frankie Edgar, Tony Ferguson, Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz just to name a few.
The sport can survive without McGregor, just as they were able to quickly move on from Ronda Rousey’s reign.