Three championship fights take place in New York City this coming Saturday night as Madison Square Garden plays host to UFC 217, undoubtedly one of the promotion’s most highly anticipated cards. In fact, all five main card fights should prove to be extremely fan friendly bouts. More importantly for us bettors, the UFC 217 card serves up plenty of value too.
Therefore rather than writing a detailed analysis and prediction on the main-event, I’m going to share my thoughts on all five main card bouts, in an attempt to help you uncover a winner or two.
Paulo Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks: Former UFC welterweight title holder Hendricks has lost four of his last five fights and has only three wins over his last nine. He moved up to middleweight after multiple wars against the likes of Robbie Lawler and George St-Pierre, coupled with an inability to make the 170-pound limit.
Borrachinha has just two fights in the UFC but as the current -200 betting line reflects, the 26-year-old Brazilian has attracted plenty of attention. This will be the third straight southpaw he’s facing, which should prove to be an asset, especially against an opponent who’s left hand is his greatest weapon.
Bottom line, even at -200 the betting line just isn’t high enough when compared to the probability of victory for Borrachinha. He’ll have a significant height and reach advantage in this bout, and will be comfortable regardless where the fight takes place. This fight is a perfect example of two fighters on opposite trajectories.
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal: I’ll take the “plus” money on a 50/50 proposition every time.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas: The current betting line is -500 and though I’m in no rush to lay it, I don’t believe this underdog is “live” enough to warrant backing. Simply put, I’d bet the favorite or pass.
Tj Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt: Though two inches shorter, TJ will enjoy a two-inch reach advantage against Cody. The statistics and analytics between these two fighters are all very similar, which should be expected since they are very analogous with each other. Add in the fact that these two men were once sparring partners and on the very same team, and it’s easy to see why it’s a difficult outcome to predict.
Garbrandt is a deserving champion having beaten Dominic Cruz, but with that said, he was afforded the opportunity to bypass the division’s top 5 ranked 135-pound fighters. Bottom line, we have our second main-card bout that warrants the “coin flip fight” label so once again I’ll go ahead and take the “plus money” on the dog, especially with the favorite coming in off an injury.
PICK: TJ DILLASHAW
George St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping: Few UFC champions have had to endure the road that Bisping has in order to capture a title, so I for one couldn’t be happier to see him get the GSP fight. This bout not only helps him grow his legacy, it also allows him to secure a huge payday at the tail end of his long and storied career. The former five time British kick-boxing champion has more UFC wins than any other fighter, having competed at both 205 and 185 pounds.
GSP has been out of the sport for close to four years and makes his return at a higher weight class than he’s ever competed at. He is considered one of the most athletic mixed martial artists of all time, and proved to be an elite level grappler and striker. GSP had won 33 straight rounds at one point during his championship reign of the welterweight division, beating and even dominating many of the sport’s biggest names.
Bottom line, though GSP has been out and Bisping has been active I don’t believe “ring rust” will be a major factor in the outcome. I also think that even though Bisping is the bigger man, he’s not going to be the stronger one inside of the Octagon. Couple that with the fact GSP has never been outclassed in the striking game, and I just see more ways for him to emerge victorious.
I expect GSP will eventually start taking Bisping down at every opportunity, even with his excellent take-down defense and ability to get back on his feet.