UFC 217 Predictions: MMANews Staff Expect Fireworks in NYC

UFC 217 is set to go down in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, with returning legend Georges St-Pierre set to challenge Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship

The promotion makes just its second visit to the iconic Madison Square Garden in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year. MMANews staff has given their picks below for the main card of the evening:

Fernando Quiles Jr:

Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks

Hendricks is 1-4 in his last five outings, yet his past success has led him to another main card fight. Borrachinha is on the rise with a 10-0 record and he is built like a tank. I don’t believe Henricks can control Borrachinha in this fight. I see Borrachinha keeping it standing and eventually earning a TKO victory.

Prediction: Borrachinha via TKO

Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal

Both men have seen their momentum slow down. After an uneventful rematch with Tyron Woodley, many have criticized “Wonderboy” for not pulling the trigger. In this fight, I see him attacking the legs and body of Masvidal with kicks. Masvidal’s strength is boxing and it served him well against Donald Cerrone. Thompson isn’t as worn down as Cerrone and in my view, has always been more technical in the standup. I see Thompson taking a unanimous decision win.

Prediction: Thompson via unanimous decision

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas

Jedrzejczyk is looking to be in the history books once again. She can tie Ronda Rousey’s record for most UFC title defenses since women made their way to the promotion. Namajunas is a worthy challenger and her calm demeanor is a positive. The problem here is I don’t see a situation where Namajunas has the advantage. Jedrzejczyk is too technical on the feet and I don’t believe she’ll allow the challenger to take the fight to the ground for long. Namajunas will go the distance, but Jedrzejczyk will be part of history.

Prediction: Jedrzejczyk via decision

Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw

This is such a toss-up. Both men have learned well from Team Alpha Male with Dillashaw also looking sharp at Elevation Fight Team. I don’t believe the bad blood will lead to a wild fracas. Both men will be technical and may cancel each other out. I’m going with the hot hand right now in Garbrandt. He’s undefeated, he beat the greatest bantamweight of all time and he’s leading the charge at Team Alpha Male. With that said, a victory for Dillashaw wouldn’t surprise me.

Prediction: Garbrandt win

Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre

They say, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It’s a saying that St-Pierre will insist doesn’t apply to him. Bisping has been vocal in saying that St-Pierre’s game plan will be to jab and take him down. I don’t believe he’s far off. About six years ago, I would’ve picked “Rush” to walk away with the middleweight gold. Not only has St-Pierre been away for four years, but he also took some damage on his way out. While some would argue Bisping is no spring chicken who’s been knocked loopy, he’s still been active. I think St-Pierre’s pacing will be off and he won’t be able to capitalize on Bisping’s biggest weakness, which is defending takedowns. I got Bisping retaining his title via unanimous decision.

Prediction: Bisping via unanimous decision

Adam Haynes:

Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks

Hendricks claims to have experienced something of a ‘rebirth’ since moving under the tutelage of Jackson-Wink, yet it appears his best days are behind him. Taking just one win in his last five, don’t be surprised if this fight is the last we see of “Big Rigg”. Borrachinha, 10-0, looked massively impressive in his last outing against Oluwale Bamgbose at UFC 212 and truly has the momentum going into this bout.

Prediction: Borrachinha to beat Hendricks by TKO

Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal

“Wonderboy” has shown just how tough he is and will be too smart and shrewd for the gritty and dogged Masvidal. An underwhelming last outing against Tyron Woodley will have many observers underestimating Thompson but he may be set to pull out a big performance on Saturday night.

If Thompson can maintain his composure, fight from the outside and avoid the big shots from “Gamebred” and fight his fight, he will win. Masvidal is undoubtedly capable of connecting and ending the fight early but he will find it very hard to find range against the smart and astute Thompson.

Prediction: Thompson to win via unanimous decision

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas

Namujanus’ submission of Michelle Waterson was seemingly enough to land her this title shot. Can she beat Jedrzejczyk? Absolutely. Will she? I don’t think so. As Fernando pointed out, a win for Joanna will see her tie Ronda Rousey’s record for most (women’s) UFC title defenses and she has been nothing short of absolutely dominant at strawweight.

Namujanus’ best hope is to catch Jedrzejczyk early and can conceivably land an early takedown and attempt to stamp her mark in the first round. “Thug Rose” is close to the champ size and reach wise and is certainly tough enough. Jedrzejczyk, however, is a class act and highly technical operator who will wear the challenger down and impose her dominance in the championship rounds.

Prediction: Jedrzejczyk to win via unanimous decision

Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw

One of the best fights to be made in MMA. The former teammates at Team Alpha Male share one of the most bitter rivalries in the sport. Dillashaw, the former bantamweight champion, is one of the most gifted fighters in the division and looked unstoppable prior to losing his title to all-time great Dominick Cruz by way of split decision in January 2016. His last two performances, unanimous decision wins over Rafael Assunção and John Lineker, show just how good he can be.

Garbrandt shocked the world at UFC 207 in December 2016, not just for beating Dominick Cruz, but how he did it. “No Love”, contrary to his hot-headed demeanor outside of the octagon, was calm, precise and technically superior against a man many believe to be the greatest 135-pounder of all time. Garbrandt’s genuine hatred for Dillashaw may be his undoing here and unless he can overcome the early taunts and in-fight trash talk from Dillashaw, he may walk into a trap here. Garbrandt’s back troubles and 11-month absence from the cage may also work against him.

Prediction: TJ Dillashaw by TKO

Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre

Georges St-Pierre is a legend of the sport and a true athlete. Despite his 4 year absence from MMA, he has maintained a healthy life and kept himself in shape. Coach Firas Zahabi recently claimed that GSP’s lifestyle over the last four years will ensure that he will not enter the cage as a jaded version of himself and many will expect him to be in great shape come Saturday night.

Wil that be enough against the bigger man in Bisping? The Brit is big for a middleweight and was 14-0 at light heavyweight before dropping down to middleweight following a contestable defeat to Rashad Evans. St-Pierre, of course, fought his career at welterweight and it is the combination of fighting at a heavier weight and his four-year absence which are the obvious worries.

Can he take Bisping down and smother him? That seems to be the expectation from many observers. I doubt that he can keep up with Bisping’s proven stamina and durability, however, and may even find himself at the end of some big shots trying to work himself into the inside. Bisping’s fight IQ is underrated and I feel that he will be able to figure out St-Pierre early and keep him at bay before finishing him with a flurry of shots in the championship rounds.

Prediction: Bisping by KO/TKO

Tim Thompson

Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks

Borrachinha vs Hendricks is fun. Hendricks weight issues and questions being still being prevalent at MW is disheartening (He did officially make weight at 185.8).

Borrachinha is going to be something special. He looks and fights like legend Ricardo Arona and gets to have his coming out party against the former welterweight champion.

Prediction: Borrachinha via 1st Round TKO

Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal

Jorge Masvidal has done a great job at keeping his name out there with the big names in the sport. Unfortunately, it seems he is more focused on everyone else besides his opponent, and former title contender, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson

People are a bit down as of late on “Wonderboy” but do you not remember Thompson outside of that last Woodley fight? Electric. He gives everyone a pleasant reminder tomorrow night.

Prediction: Thompson via 3rd Round TKO

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas

Rose Namajunas is probably the coolest cat in this sport. Self-aware yet supremely confident, ‘Thug Rose’ reminds me of the T-1000 from Terminator in all the stare downs. Doesn’t flinch, doesn’t blink, doesn’t give a f*ck.

Unfortunately for Ros, it seems like Joanna is a once in a lifetime talent. A confidence that borders on arrogance but never crosses. Getting stronger in every fight as it progresses. She wants to beat Ronda’s record badly. She does so.

Prediction: Joanna wins via UD 50-45

Cody Garbrandt vs TJ Dillashaw

The TJ vs Team Alpha Male verbal battle is at a point of extreme exhaustion. The two just need to fight already and (fingers crossed) the two will do that on Saturday night.

TJ has a slight advatage in speed but Cody gets the nod in power. It all comes down to who can implement the game plan and keep the confidence high.

TJ being in the process of building a new team hurts him and will play a factor. Cody has been building for this with TAM for a long time and gets the justification he has been looking for with a win but it’s close enough to warrant a second fight and another 12 to 24 months of banter and insults.

Prediction: Garbrandt wins via SD (48-47,47-48,49-46)

Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre

I am shocked with how people have been so concerned about GSP’s size. You guys realize we are talking about GSP…right?

I am happy for Bisping. I think he has made the most of his situation like he should, and his GSP impression is excruciating and hilarious at the same time.

Simply put. GSP is going to GSP. He will keep to the outside and it will be Jab Fest 2017. Follow that up with take-downs and that is your fight. Bisping has a punchers shot but I believe he already played those cards for the last time in previous fights.

Prediction: GSP wins via UD (50-45,50-45,50-45)

So there you have it, folks. Be sure to check in with MMANews.com for our coverage of the fights from the Big Apple on Saturday night!

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