Last Updated: 2017-11-01
Three titlefights are on the docket for UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This is the second card to be held at MSG and UFC officials have pulled out all the stops to have one of the best cards of the season at one of the world’s most iconic venues. After a really good Fight Night card that had some pay-per-view level fights, we’ll see things really go up a notch this weekend.
We’ll be giving you an overview of the undercard fights and then focus in on the five fights set for the main card, including championship bouts in the women’s strawweight division between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas, in the bantamweight division between Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw, and in the middleweight division between Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre.
All odds are courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook, but be sure to shop around for the best prices at other sports betting outlets like Bookmaker, DSI, Bovada, and BetOnline to maximize your investment.
In total, there are 12 fights set for UFC 217 on Saturday November 4. Things start on the UFC Fight Pass card with a bantamweight battle between Aiemann Zahabi and Ricardo Ramos. Ramos is a -125 favorite to give Zahabi his first career loss. Zahabi is 1-0 in UFC fights with a decision win over Reginaldo Vieira in his first career fight not to end in a stoppage. Ramos, a top contender in LFC, also won his UFC debut by decision over Michinori Tanaka.
Oleksiy Oliynyk is a +318 underdog against Curtis Blaydes, who checks in at -385 on 5D. Oliynyk is a veteran of 62 professional fights with a 52-10 record. Blaydes is just 7-1, but Blaydes has a massive size advantage over his 40-year-old challenger. Oliynyk has 42 career submission wins, but Blaydes wants to stand and throw, so we’ll have to see how this one plays out.
Ion Cutelaba is more than a five-dollar favorite against challenger Michal Oleksiejczuk. Cutelaba is just 2-2 in his UFC career, but as a pretty hot prospect coming up through the ranks, he’s set up to get a win here. The challenger is 12-2 in his career, but is making a huge jump from FEN and TFL to take this fight.
Welterweights Mickey Gall and Randy Brown fire things up on the Fox Sports 1 portion of the card. Brown is a -120 favorite in what looks like the most competitive fight on the undercard per the odds. These are two very talented young fighters. Brown has a bit more experience with a 9-2 mark, but he is coming off of a loss to Belal Muhammad. Gall is 4-0. One of his wins came in a PR match over CM Punk, but his win last December by submission over Sage Northcutt was very impressive. Gall is a good look for a minor upset here, if he can get the fight to the ground.
Patrick Cummins was originally slated to face Corey Anderson, but a staph infection sidelined him. UFC vet Ovince Saint Preux will take his place and go up against Anderson. The switch came on October 17, so neither combatant has had much time to scout the opposition. OSP is a -160 favorite over Anderson. After picking up his third straight loss early in 2017, Saint Preux has bounced back with wins of Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Yushin Okami, both by early submission. Anderson doesn’t seem to have the versatility of Saint Preux, with five of his nine wins by decision. It seems likely that OSP controls the fight, hence the odds in his direction.
Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer meet in the second of two heavyweight fights on the docket. Harris is a -345 favorite and is the more accomplished fighter because of his longer tenure in UFC. He has 10 career knockout wins. Godbeer was a champion on the BAMMA circuit, but is 1-1 in UFC with a loss to Justin Ledet and a decision win over Daniel Spitz. Heavyweight fights are pretty unpredictable since one clean shot can end things. Be careful here, but Harris is a big favorite for a reason.
James Vick is a +165 dog to Joseph Duffy. Duffy (-190) is hoping to deliver Vick’s second career loss. Vick’s only loss came via first-round knockout to a really strong fighter in Beneil Dariush. Vick has some decent UFC wins, with a first-round sub of Jake Matthews and a first-round knockout of Polo Reyes. Duffy is the more seasoned fighter and has a huge edge on the ground in this bout, but Vick seems like a very live underdog here.
Paulo Borrachinha (-230) vs. Johny Hendricks (+190); Total: 1.5 (-105/-115)
Paulo Borrachinha is a rapid riser in the MMA world and his price here against Johny Hendricks is a pretty good illustration of that. This is the first fight on the main card and it projects to be over fairly quickly, which isn’t a surprise. Borrachinha is 10-0 in his pro career with 10 stoppage wins. Oluwale Bamgbose deserved the Performance of the Night bonus at UFC 212 for being the first to take Borrachinha into the second round. That fight, like nine others, ended in a knockout. The 26-year-old is quickly climbing the middleweight ranks and a win over a name opponent here would be a good springboard.
Johny Hendricks is a big name to beat, but he’s also on the downside of his career. Hendricks has fought some very good fighters lately, but he’s also dropped four of his last five fights. His lone win came back in February over Hector Lombard. He’s dropped decisions to Neil Magny and Kelvin Gastelum and lost via knockout to Tim Boetsch and Stephen Thompson. Hendricks just no longer has the same striking power. Hendricks is moving from welterweight to middleweight, so maybe that helps, but he’s giving up some reach to a very hellacious striker.
Pick: Paulo Borrachinha (-230)
This is a good fight to ease Borrachinha into the bigger names in the middleweight division. Hendricks is a nice scalp in name, but he is a fighter in decline. It allows Borrachinha to fight a veteran with a lot of cage experience at the highest level and against some of the sport’s best. At that point, Borrachinha will get some better matches and can be the rising star and big draw that he appears to be.
Jorge Masvidal (+155) vs. Stephen Thompson (-175); Total: 2.5 (-230/190)
This main card has a few really good fights and it is unfortunate that this one will be overshadowed by possible Fight of the Year candidate Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw, the return of GSP, and the rising star of Borrachinha. Jorge Masvidal is on the wrong side of 30, but he is still a top contender in supreme physical shape in the welterweight division. He has a good test here against Stephen Thompson. Masvidal is 3-2 over his last five fights, including knockout wins over Donald Cerrone and Jake Ellenberger. Masvidal enters this fight with a chip on his shoulder after a disputed split decision loss to Demian Maia at UFC 211. It was almost a year to the day that Masvidal lost his last fight against Lorenz Larkin, so he’s looking to build up a new streak. He will be the aggressor in this fight. With a decision result likely, given the -230 on the over 2.5, he may not be a bad live dog here.
Stephen Thompson had a lot of soul searching to do after two brutal losses to Tyron Woodley. The two reconnected at UFC 209 to solve some unfinished business after fighting to a draw at UFC 205 last November. Woodley won that one by the thinnest of margins with a majority decision. For Thompson, who entered the first Woodley fight with a 13-1 record, these two setbacks have been tough to take. The 34-year-old has a chance to get back in the win column here and prove some doubters wrong. Once Thompson stepped up to face Woodley, he fell flat. The rematch was widely regarded as a dud and then Thompson missed time with a knee injury.
Pick: Jorge Masvidal (+155)
This is a barking dog situation. Masvidal fell short of a title shot with that disputed loss to Demian Maia and he can get himself back in better standing in the division with a win here. We have to see how that surgically-repaired knee responds for Thompson. Masvidal will be the aggressor, which often gains favor in the eyes of the judges, and it will put Thompson on defense when he needs to play offense to erase his last fight.
Rose Namajunas (+450) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-600); Total: 3.5 (-190/165)
Rose Namajunas has the title shot that she has been hoping for, but this could be a “be careful what you wish for” scenario. Namajunas is 6-3 in her pro career, but 4-1 over her last five fights since she lost to Carla Esparza on the TUF 20 finale. Namajunas did not look good in a split-decision loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz back at UFC 201, but dominated Michelle Waterson in April on a Fight Night telecast. Namajunas is a very skilled fighter with one of the best submission games in this division, but…
She is stepping up in class in a big win. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been virtually untouchable since taking the title. Jedrzejczyk knocked out Carla Esparza at UFC 185 and has defended the title five straight times since. She simply controls fights. She isn’t a big striker and doesn’t have the submission game of Namajunas, but she never seems to be in harm’s way with four straight unanimous decision wins. Namajunas is the best contender that Jedrzejczyk has faced, and yet this line is still as high as it is. That should tell you something.
Pick: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-600)
The best bet here is to play over the total at -190 or Jedrzejczyk by decision at a lower price. Namajunas would probably rather go down with a fight than with a judges’ decision, but Jedrzejczyk goes to the cards a lot and two of Namajunas’s last three fights have gone to the scores. Maybe Jedrzejczyk does get exposed a little bit here and maybe we get some scorecard drama to set up a rematch next year.
TJ Dillashaw (+155) vs. Cody Garbrandt (-175); Total: 3.5 (-165/145)
The bantamweight title is on the line between former titleholder TJ Dillashaw and current titleholder Cody Garbrandt. The 31-year-old Dillashaw has been working his way back to this opportunity since a controversial split-decision win by Dominick Cruz back in January 2016. Dillashaw has not fought in 2017 yet, and it’s fair to wonder if the long layoff will have an impact. After knocking out Renan Barao, Joe Soto, and Barao again in back-to-back fights, Dillashaw has gone to the scorecards in each of his last three fights. Dillashaw’s last two fights were confidence-builder wins over Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker, but now he really takes a leap up in class.
Cody Garbrandt hasn’t lost in his professional career. He has nine knockout wins and two decision wins, including one at UFC 207 over Dominick Cruz to become the bantamweight champion. Garbrandt proved a lot to a lot of people with that win. His previous three fights had been first-round knockouts of Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida, and Takeya Mizugaki. Cruz was his first real big opponent and he went the distance and controlled the fight. Many believe that the champ is the closest thing to the sport’s next star and is as close to a perfect fighter as you can get.
Let’s add another wrinkle, shall we? These two used to be Team Alpha Male teammates and probably friends at one point in time. Dillashaw left the camp and there were some serious allegations flying from both sides. There is a good level of distaste between these two and that should add even more fuel to the fire.
Pick: Cody Garbrandt (-175)
Garbrandt is just the better fighter right now. Since Dillashaw lost the title, he seems to have lost that edge. Perhaps it comes back in this fight, but we’ll have to see it to believe it. Garbrandt is a heavy hitter that can still control a fight. Dillashaw is one of the most technically-sound fighters and has some of the best footwork and defenses in the business. Fights like this generally go to the guy creating the action and that looks like Garbrandt.
Michael Bisping (-105) vs. Georges St. Pierre (-115); Total: 4.5 (-140/120)
The titleholder generally isn’t the underdog in these fights, but that is the case here. Michael Bisping is a great story. Aside from beating John Haynes to win TUF 3, Bisping has waited a long time and has paid his dues en route to being champion. It was a hugely emotional movement for him with the knockout win over Luke Rockhold and then he was able to defend his title against Dan Henderson. Unfortunately, this fight, even with GSP off of an enormous layoff, is still a big challenge. These two have never crossed paths, which is remarkable over their long careers, but GSP has been a welterweight up until this point. As nice as it is that Bisping has a title defense, Dan Henderson was 46 years old and that was pretty much it for his career. This is a different type of fight against a different type of animal.
Georges St. Pierre has not fought since UFC 167 when he beat Johny Hendricks by split decision on November 16, 2013. GSP retired from fighting after that title defense. It was his ninth straight title defense. Some might be upset that GSP returns from a four-year layoff to immediately get a title shot, but the dude certainly earned it with the fact that he held the title for nearly six years. Even in his prime, GSP wasn’t a big striker. He just controlled fights. Only two of his title defenses ended in knockouts. GSP has had a torn ACL and an eye injury during the time he has been out and he is fighting at a new weight class after an extensive layoff, so there are a lot of reasons to be concerned.
Pick: Georges St. Pierre (-115)
Michael Bisping has had a great career and it is awesome to see him with a belt and a title defense. Unfortunately, even against a rusty Georges St. Pierre, how many times has Bisping fought and beaten a fighter of this caliber? The great unknown is obviously about how GSP will respond to being back in the cage, but he’s had plenty of time to train and get ready. Bisping has size and has been fighting regularly, but GSP was a superior fighter in his time and that shouldn’t just melt away.
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