The UFC returns to the world famous Madison Square Garden arena, in New York City for its 2nd ever show and is set to be the biggest MMA event of 2017. In the main event the longest reigning Welterweight champion in UFC history returns from his nearly 4 year hiatus; Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre will take on current middleweight king, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping. The co-main event sees, one of the biggest grudge matches in UFC history move to centre stage, with current bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt set to clash with former teammate turned bitter rival TJ Dillashaw. This bout could easily steal the show, with both fighters looking to solidify their legacies. The 3rd title fight on the card will see current straweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk attempt to tie Ronda Rouseys women’s record of 6 title defences, when she faces up and coming challenger Rose “Thug” Namajunas. The main card also boasts a battle between 2 top welterweight contenders when Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson takes on Jorge Masvidal. Finally, to start the main card viewers will see former champion and GSP’s last octagon opponent, Johny Hendricks take on undefeated and highly touted middleweight, Paulo Borrachinha in a bout that promises fireworks. Here the wolf previews the main card, providing betting tips on each bout and a brand new, “Main Card Multi”.
Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Borrachinha
The first bout of the stacked main card at UFC 217, sees Johny ‘Big Rig’ Hendricks take on up and coming Paulo Borrachinha, the winner of this breaks into the top 15 and pushes towards more big name fights. Hendricks a former champion at 170 pounds went from being one of the best in the world, to winning 2 of his last 7 bouts. Largely in part to his inability to make weight, missing 3 of his last 4 weight cuts. The old Hendricks was a world beater, possessing a record of 15-1 before a split decision loss to GSP, that saw many people give him the nod in that fight. His highlight reel is filled with multiple one punch knockouts and has the ability to end a fight in the blink of an eye, combine this with a Division 1 level wrestling game and it’s no surprise that Hendricks was considered one of the best in the world. Discipline issues and out of the cage distractions have deteriorated a once great career and a loss against Borrachinha could spell the end to Johnys UFC career. His opponent Paulo Borrachinha is at the complete opposite end of his young MMA career. With a perfect professional record of 10-0 all finishes, it is no surprise that Paulo has plenty of hype behind him. A powerful and strong style, Borrachinha will look to use height and reach advantage to mow Hendricks down and finish the fight. What that spells for the fans, is the possibility of chaos and a potential fight of the night. The outcome of this bout is all dependant upon which Hendricks shows up, if we see the disciplined killer of old it could be a reality check for the Brazilian who has never fought professionally outside of his home land. If the Big Rig of late appears, it could be a long night and coming out party for Borrachinha.
Hendricks is still tough but the Wolf likes Paulo in this one, 3rd Rnd TKO.
Best: Paulo Borrachinha WIN ($1.37)
Value: Borrachinha by KO/TKO ($1.80)
Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal
Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal positions 2 top 5 welterweights against each other, with possible title fight implications on the line. Wonderboy a former professional kickboxer has rocketed into the upper echelon of the UFCs welterweight rankings, with a current UFC record of 8-1-2. His ability to successfully transition his kickboxing game into a well-rounded martial arts skillset has set him apart from most others coming from other sports. As seen in his 5 round beating of Rory McDonald, Thompson has an amazing knack at making his opponent fight at his pace and capitalising on any and all mistakes. For Masvidal who has recently experienced a career resurgence, his game plan will be to push the pace on Thompson and try to throw the kickboxer into the world of grappling. If he isn’t careful he will pay, Wonderboy specialises in counter striking his aggressive opponents and that could be Masvidals down fall. Jorge will come out fast and it’s up to Stephen Thompson to decide where the fight takes place.
The Wolf believes the class of Thompson will be too much for Masvidal to handle. Thompson by UD
Best: Thompson WIN ($1.50)
Value: Thompson by UD ($2.70)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas is the 1st of 3 title fights at UFC 217. Jedrzejczyk, who many are calling the best female martial artist of all time, has set the MMA world on fire with her witty humour, aggressive fight style and domination of just about every opponent she has faced. Watching her fight is a prime example of how far women’s MMA has come, since its humble beginnings inside the UFC with Ronda Rousey back in 2013. Speaking of the former champion, if Joanna successfully defends her title Sunday, she will have tied Rouseys record of 6 for most female title defences inside the octagon. Her opponent Namajunas, who is the biggest betting underdog on the card, has a very raw 6-3 MMA record. Coming off a big submission win over Michelle Waterson in her last bout, Rose has shown she is able and willing to take damage in a fight to better her chances at victory. The X-factor in this bout is what punters will be interested in. Rose is currently sitting at $5.25 and she brings better value than her price suggests. It just so happens that every opponent before here have not been able to solve the Jedrzejczyk puzzle.
The Wolf believes Joanna will be too strong for Rose, but expects a few big moments from Namajunas. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by clear decision
Best: Over 3.5 Rounds ($1.52)
Value: Joanna by UD ($1.80)
Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw
Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw is the Wolf’s pick for fight of the night and even of the year. The history and animosity of this bout has been boiling over for close to 3 years and is set to explode Sunday, live on Pay Per View! The rivalry began once Dillashaw formally left Team Alpha Male, a mega fight camp specialising in smaller weight fighters. Both men went from calling each other brothers, to a fight nearly breaking out every time they see each other. This reached new heights on season 25 of The Ultimate Fighter when both men were pitted as opposition coaches. That was originally scheduled to climax at UFC 213, before No Love had to withdraw due to a back injury. With the fight now only a few days away, it has the makings of an all-time classic. Cody Garbrandt who owns a perfect professional record of 11-0, shot into the mainstream stardom with one of the best underdog performances ever seen. Back at UFC 207 in December last year, Garbrandt outclassed and dominated a man in Dominick Cruz, who many consider one of the best of all time. In that fight Cody showed incredible composure and boxing skills, making Cruz at times look slow and lethargic. The hand speed and power of Garbrandt is evident every time you see him fight, so far he has looked 2 or 3 steps ahead of his opponent at all times. With a tonne of heart and desire to be the best, Garbrandt is going to take some stopping. For Dillashaw to be successful in this bout, he must take Cody out of his game and incorporate his unpredictable style and Muay Thai strikes, 2 areas that TJ should have an advantage in. Much like No Love, Dillashaw has shown he has an incredible ability to rise to the big occasion shown in both of his victories over former champion Renan Barao. The former Champ TJ, will come into this bout confident after being a former training partner of Garbrandt, the world hasn’t seen any chinks in Cody’s armour, which TJ will be looking to exploit.
The best fight on the card and maybe the toughest to call; Garbrandt on Points, 48-47.
Best: Cody WIN ($1.55)
Value: Cody by Decision ($2.90)
Georges St-Pierre vs Michael Bisping
The main event of the evening showcases the return of one of MMAs biggest ever stars, Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre comes out of a near 4 year hiatus, to take on current middleweight champion ‘The Count’ Michael Bisping. GSP at one stage was the biggest star in MMA; he put Canadian martial arts on the map and carried the torch for the UFC for over 5 years. An incredible athlete with one of the most complete skillsets ever, GSP is comfortable where ever fight takes place and is a real threat to anyone he competes against. The big ‘IF’ in this one, is what GSP returns. Do we see the world beater that cleared a division out multiple times dominating all comers, or has the game passed him by. 4 years inactive in today’s climate is lightyears compared to most other sports. The positive for GSP fans is his fighting an older man, if the old GSP or something close to it returns; he could pitch a shutout (50-45) against Bisping. For the Count, he is extremely confident coming into this bout viewing Georges as an over the hill, blown up wrestler who has never fought at 185lb. Michael Bisping, who owns the most victories and times competed inside the octagon has a wealth of knowledge facing all comers. His only weakness shown has been his inability to stop his opponents from taking him down; GSP is an MMA wrestling master. In this bout if Bisping can avoid being kept on the mat for long, he can begin to unleash combinations and use the size advantage he has over GSP. On paper this fight is very hard to judge as they have never competed against the same fighter, have opposing styles and have never fought in the same weight class before. The X-Factor is what we love as MMA fans and the Wolf has flipped the coin on this one, his backing the old GSP to return and continue staking his claim as the greatest of all time.
GSP to win via Split Decision.
Best: Over 4.5 Rounds ($1.62)
Value: GSP by Split Decision ($2.80)
Main Card Multi:
Paulo Borrachinha WIN ($1.37)
Thompson WIN ($1.50)
Joanna WIN ($1.16)
Cody v TJ over 3.5 rounds ($1.55)
GSP v Bisping over 4.5 rounds ($1.62)
Price: $5.99. Use Multi Price Pump to increase this to $6.59!