Last year saw the premier MMA promotion put on five pay-per-view cards which hit one million or more in buys but contrasting fortunes has seen not one make the mark in 2017.
That doesn’t mean there has been a shortage in thrilling fights and absorbing narratives but without the ability to milk cash cows Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, they have been short off star pulling power.
Yeah, I'd like to know how this is possible. https://t.co/KuJhR9zzfR— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) November 2, 2017
That will not be the case for UFC 217 and the return to Madison Square Garden on November 4.
Indeed, three title fights top the bill with the best ever welterweight, women’s strawweight and one of the most intense rivalries on offer.
Here is a look at the bouts everyone is talking about.
Jedzrejczyk talks quick, fights even quicker and her ascent into the pound-for-pound debate is quickening with every fight.
The champion’s reputation is growing and her development into one of the most feared strikers on the planet will surely mean she tops a bill of this nature by herself in due time.
As it is, her clash with Namajunas starts off the title-fight triple-header and the match-up is a sensational one.
The high-speed Pole brings relentless volume and an ability to fight at a tornado pace for the full 25 minutes.
She breaks opponents down with strikes from any limb and is equally as cruel outside the Octagon as she is in it.
Indeed, extra heat has been added to the mix after Jedzrejczyk touched on the sensitive personal past of Namajunas by labelling her “mentally unstable”.
In reality no trash talk is required because the styles make for a fascinating fight.
Jedzrejczyk’s elite-level striking will be challenged by Namajunas’s slick submission work with either a fight-ending choke or stand-up clinic likely to play out.
Jedzrejczyk R4 TKO
Nothing beats a good rivalry – especially a genuine one.
Too often the UFC has had grudge matches built on artificial disdain but that is far from the case with former team-mates Garbradnt and Dillashaw.
Not only does this bout have the backdrop of personal bad blood but it also has two of the very best at 135lbs going toe-to-toe.
The story is a well read one but for the uninitiated a brief timeline will suffice to hook you in.
Dillashaw left Team Alpha Male under a cloud of controversy. Garbrandt is a former training partner and TAM loyalist.
Dillashaw’s dispute with the team soon saw Garbrandt thrust into the role of TAM frontman and the pair coached against each other on a fierce season of The Ultimate Fighter.
The bad blood boiled and it all leads to an explosive bout come fight night. The emotive undercurrent is just one aspect of interest, though.
Both are highly skilled fighters with their own twist of violence. Dillashaw is a fighter who creates more angles than a protractor with his ‘neo-footwork’ harder to read than any maths exam.
He’s precise and powerful with his methodical approach married to an endless gas tank.
Then there is the champion, a physical phenom with an lion-heart. His boxing skills are arguably the best in MMA with his hand speed blurring and his fists fearful.
Both are elite-level wrestlers, both have outstanding striking and they both hate each other – sit back an bust out the popcorn for this one.
Garbradnt, majority decision
Before Conor McGregor’s emergence, the best trash talking European fighter was Michael Bisping and the biggest PPV star was Georges St-Pierre.
Both have since had their titles ripped away by the divisive Irishman but it does not make this main event less interesting by any stretch of the imagination.
The unknowns and knowns are what make this fight fascinating.
And we’ll start with the knowns. Bisping is the middleweight champion and GSP is returning from a near four year sabbatical.
The two are in the twilight stages of their career with the champ aged 38 and the challenging Canadian 36.
The Brit is the naturally bigger man with GSP moving up from the division he dominated and that’s where the unknowns come into the equation.
GSP is fighting 15lbs above welterweight and is four years older since his last fight against Johny Hendricks. No one really knows what version of the welterweight GOAT we’re going to see.
His evolution from slick kickboxer to smothering wrestler in the latter part of his career makes you wonder what iteration of GSP will be on display given his age, weight class and opponent.
And for all Bisping’s criticism having fought a 46-year-old Dan Henderson after shocking Luke Rockhold to take the belt, he’s better than ever.
His footwork is smart and limitless while his ‘pillow punches’ now pack power.
It’s the older, bigger but active champion against a king of old back to claim a new throne to join an exclusive dynasty of two-weight titlists.
Bisping, unanimous decision
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