Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., Nov. 4, 2017) for UFC 217, which is set to go down inside Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. The pay-per-view (PPV) event event will feature a Middleweight title fight that will see division champion Michael Bisping take on former Welterweight kingpin, Georges St-Pierre. In the co-main event, Cody Garbrandt will finally get to settle his feud against former training partner T.J. Dillashaw in a Bantamweight title fight.

What’s Hot:

It’s been almost four years since we’ve seen Georges St-Pierre compete. When he decided to leave the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), “Rush” was at the top of the fight game, dominating the 170-pound division for nearly a decade. Now that he’s back, the French-Canadian will look to become only the fourth man to hold multiple division titles for UFC, as he will be fighting at Middleweight for the first time in his career.

Many have criticized St-Pierre’s move to Middleweight, and not for jamming up the division, but for accepting a title fight against Bisping when he never showed interest in moving up to face former long-time champion Anderson Silva. Nevertheless, “Rush” has the chance to make history inside Madison Square Garden.

Bisping, on the other hand, has garnered criticism of his own over the past year, as the 185-pound division has been pretty upset with “The Count’s” lack of title defenses and preference to face a former 170-pound fighter instead of giving the true No. 1 contender at Middleweight a chance. Of course, a knee injury hindered the brash Brit for a while. Then again, passing up the biggest payday of his career is pretty tough to do, so you can’t blame him for making this business move.

Plus, if “The Count” can defeat St-Pierre, he will have bragging rights for life, as he will be the only man to defeat both Anderson Silva and St-Pierre. That’s one of the biggest feathers any fighter can have in his cap.

The co-main event — which some have dubbed the real headlining act — will see Cody Garbrandt attempt to defend his belt for the first time when he faces former training partner-turned rival T.J. Dillashaw. The two men have been at each others throats — literally — for quite some time, taking digs at each other at every turn as a result of Dillashaw’s decision to leave Team Alpha Male.

Their stint as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) only intensified their feud. Furthermore, after their original booking at UFC 213 was scratched, the anticipation for the brawl only grew.

Original Card vs. Actual Card:

After Mark Godbeer was yanked from his fight against Walt Harris at UFC 216 in favor of pitting Walt against Fabricio Werdum (whom he lost to via first-round submission) the Godbeer vs Harris matchup was added to this event. Ovince Saint Preux stepped in on a few weeks notice to face Cory Anderson after Patrick Cummins — Corey’s original foe — was bounced from the card with an injury.

A light heavyweight showdown between Michał Oleksiejczuk and Ion Cutelaba was scratched after Ion was notified of a potential United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) violation one day before the fight.

Injuries:

Gadzhimurad Antigulov was set to face Ion Cutelaba, but was forced out of the event because of an injury, paving the way for Michał Oleksiejczuk to make his Octagon debut on the biggest stage of them all. However, that fight was also scratched after Ion was flagged by USADA. Patrick Cummins was all set to take on Corey Anderson, but a nasty staph infection (see it) forced “Durkin” out of the fight

New Blood:

Oleksiejczuk is the lone newcomer competing at this event, putting his nine-fight win streak against Cutelaba. Not a bad card to making your UFC debut in.

How The “Prelims” Look:

The “Prelims” undercard has several tasty match ups, including the headlining bout between James Vick and Joe Duffy. The fight will be Duffy’s first after inking a new deal. Both men are riding two-fight win streaks and a win for either will shoot them up the Featherweight ladder. Mickey Gall will look to remain undefeated (4-0, 3-0 UFC) when he takes on Randy Brown in Welterweight action.

Saint Preux faced Jon Jones in a headlining title fight a few years ago on PPV. Now, “OSP” has been relegated to the Fight Pass “Prelims” where he will face Corey Anderson in Light Heavyweight action. Granted, he took the fight as a late replacement, but it’s crazy to see how far he’s fallen on the totem poll. He has the chance to climb back up with an impressive victory.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Johny Hendricks has lost four of his last five bouts, including coming up short in his previous outing against Tim Boetsch earlier this year via technical knockout. It’s been a tough fall for “Bigg Rigg.” To put it into perspective, St-Pierre’s last win was against Hendricks back in 2013. Since then, Hendricks has gone a sub-par 3-5, faced weight troubles and has made a move to famed Jackson-Winkeljohn in hopes of a winning transformation. He will be facing undefeated (10-0, 2-0 UFC) Paulo Borrachinha, who made quick work of his first two UFC opponents. A win for Paulo would be big, while a loss for “Bigg Rigg” will leave him pondering what his next move is.

Interest Level: 10/10

This is without a doubt among the most stacked cards of the year, topping UFC 211 which included plenty of action-packed bouts with high-profile names. Aside from seeing if “Rush” still has anything left to offer the fight game and Garbrandt and Dillashaw letting their fists finally do the talking, we have another championship bout between women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk taking on Rose Namajunas.

Jedrzejczyk has dominated the 115-pound weight class to the tune of five straight title defenses. Standing in her way of collecting her sixth in a row is the always-game Namajunas, who is known for ruining parties. Back in 2015, Namajunas stopped Paige VanZant’s momentum, defeating her handily via rear-naked choke to give “12 Gauge” her first UFC loss. She did the same two years later to Michelle Waterson, halting “Karate Hottie’s” momentum via, you guessed it, rear-naked choke (see it).

Jedrzejczyk, though, is on another level, as she has quickly become one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. And she has yet to taste defeat, going undefeated (14-0, 8-0 UFC) for her career. Should she get another win, Jedrzejczyk has already showed interest in moving up weight classes in an attempt to win two division straps. But, she will have her hands more than full against “Thug Rose.”

Before the title fights take place, we have a very interesting 170-pound showdown that will see Jorge Masvidal take on former title contender Stephen Thompson in a bout that could very well steal the show. Both men prefer to let the action play out on the feet, so if you like stand up wars, this one’s for you, folks.

The winner will likely get closer to a shot at the title. For Thompson, it’s a chance to erase the memory of coming up short twice against Tyron Woodley. For Masvidal, it’s the chance to get back on track after getting out-worked by Demian Maia at UFC 211. And who knows, he may even work his way into a sanctioned brawl against Bisping, as well.

All in all, we should be in for an interesting night of fights!

Full UFC 217 Fight Card:

UFC 217 PPV Main Event:

185 lbs.: UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre

UFC 217 PPV Co-Main Event:

135 lbs.: UFC Bantamweight Champion Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw

UFC 217 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET)

115 lbs.: UFC Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas
170 lbs.: Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal
185 lbs.: Paulo Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks

UFC 217 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):

155 lbs.: James Vick vs. Joe Duffy
265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
205 lbs.: Michał Oleksiejczuk vs. Ion Cutelaba CANCELED – FULL STORY HERE
170 lbs.: Mickey Gall vs. Randy Brown

UFC 217 Prelims on UFC Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):

265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Aleksei Oleinik
205 lbs.: Corey Anderson vs. Ovince Saint Preux
135 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi

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