For the UFC, 2016 was the peak for Zuffa era. It was the organization’s biggest year for PPV sales, and Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta sold the UFC for over four billion dollars to WME-IMG, who has since become Endeavor. They are now faced with a tough endeavor of their own.
The peak of 2016 has given way to the valley of 2017. After Conor McGregor himself broke the one million PPV barrier three times in 2016 the UFC has yet to do it once in 2017. They are hoping UFC 217 will become the first. But, it has been tough to sell the new casual McRonda UFC fans on the return of Georges St-Pierre versus Michael Bisping, who is once again not fighting a true middleweight contender.
It is a shame if this card does not break the million buy barrier because it is a beautiful card. At the top are three title fights supported by a stacked card of intriguing potentially action-packed fights.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping
So many questions going into this fight. Do we see the return of the meaner nastier GSP? Will Bisping be able to use his size, pace and heart to wear GSP down? Will the larger Bisping use his late in his career power to finish GSP? Or will we see the faster GSP use his speed, multiple skill set and athleticism to defeat Bisping?
It is hard to logically pick against the bigger Bisping but I am feeling a GSP head-kick KO in the second round.
GSP via head-kick KO
Cody Garbrandt vs. TJ Dillashaw
Finally the grudge match between TAM defector TJ Dillashaw and the TAM Knight in Shining Armor Cody Garbrandt. The hate is real in this one and it will be interesting to see if that has any affect on the fight. Garbrandt likes to engage in trash talk and Dillashaw does not.
Normally, this would mean a clear advantage to Garbrandt but his hatred for Dillashaw is very different from his hatred was for the TAM defeater Dominick Cruz. This fight with Dillashaw is much more personal.
Looking at this fight it is difficult to see Dillashaw winning. To me Garbrandt has a speed advantage and that will be difficult for Dillashaw to overcome. If he can use excellent movement, avoid and frustrate a Garbrandt aching to KO Dillashaw early he has a chance. Instead look for Garbrandt to catch him in the second round and picking up the TKO win.
Garbrandt via TKO
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
This is the fight that interests me the most. Joanna is trying to tie Ronda’s record for UFC women’s consecutive title defenses. While party crasher Rose is looking to start her own reign over the UFC strawweight division.
As Joanna has asserted herself as one of the most dominant UFC champions by being of the best strikers in the sport with a strong defensive grappling skill set. In Rose she faces her toughest challenge. A fighter who is a talented striker but also possesses a dangerous explosive grappling game.
It is difficult to pick against the talented tough and hardworking champion but if there is a fighter poised to take the title Rose is it. If she can use her striking to stun Joanna and find a submission she could become the new champion. It is possible to see her winning a tactical technical decision.
I do see one of those outcomes happening, in the rematch. For this fight, I see Joanna finding a way to retain the belt by UD.
Joanna via UD
Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
Another fight for the fans. This one is an interesting contrast in striking styles that has potential for a violent finish. Masvidal needs to find a way to make this fight ugly. To do that he has to get inside of Thompson’s range without getting KO’d, or overly frustrated and then KO’d. If he can get inside, Masvidal has the ability to take this fight with his nasty striking of his own.
I feel we will see the return of the Stephen Thompson highlight-reel KO. Masvidal will take the fight to Thompson and get caught by a kick on the way in.
Thompson via KO
Johny Hendricks vs. Paulo Costa
Sigh, when we last saw GSP in the octagon Johny Hendricks has Picasso’d up GSP’s face. Despite looking like a mugging victim to Hendrick’s mugging GSP emerged with the win. While Hendricks would capture the vacated UFC welterweight title, his career has slipped since that moment.
Hendricks went 2-5 since strapping the UFC title belt around his ever-growing waist. He missed weight more times than he has won and the UFC forced him up to the middleweight division. After a surpassing upset of Hector Lombard, he was promptly KO’d by Tim Boetsch.
Now the UFC has set him up to be sacrificed for the excitement of the crowd. Look for Costa to kickoff the PPV portion of the card with his third straight finish via TKO in the second round.
Costa by TKO
Preliminary Quick Picks
Joe Duffy vs. James Vick
Vick via UD
Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
Harris via KO
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Corey Anderson
OSP via Von Saint Preux choke
Randy Brown vs. Mickey Gall
Brown via TKO
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Curtis Blaydes
Blaydes via TKO
Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Ion Cutelaba
Cutelaba via TKO
Aiemann Zahabi vs. Ricardo Ramos
Zahabi via UD