UFC 217 in-depth breakdown: Stylistic matchups, fight picks, best bets and fantasy studs

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom gives an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC 217’s main-card bouts.

UFC 217 takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York, and the primary card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pbad.

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Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC)

Michael Bisping

Staple data:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 38 Weight: 185 lbs. Reach: 75.5″
  • Last combat: Decision win over Dan Henderson (Oct. eight, 2016)
  • Camp: RVCA Gym (California)
  • Stance/hanging model: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk administration: Good

Supplemental data:
+ UFC middleweight champion
+ “TUF 3” winner
+ Regional MMA titles
+ 18 KO victories
+ three submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ Excellent feints and footwork
^ Manages distance properly
+ Consistent tempo and stress
^ Good cardio and conditioning
+ Accurate left hook
+ Underrated wrestling
+ Good guard retentions and getups
– Dropped in Four of final 6 fights

Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC)

Georges St-Pierre

Staple data:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 36 Weight: 185 lbs. Reach: 76″
  • Last combat: Decision win over Johny Hendricks (Nov. 16, 2013)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/hanging model: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk administration: Excellent

Supplemental data:
+ Former UFC welterweight champion
+ Kyokushin karate black belt
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ eight KO victories
+ 5 submission wins
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ Intelligent and tactical fighter
+ Well-versed striker
^ Conducts properly off of the jab
+ Tremendous takedown potential
^ Changes stage, chains, transitions
+ Excellent prime sport
^ Superb pbading and floor strikes
– Coming off of a Four-year layoff

Summary:

The foremost occasion in Madison Square Garden is a superfight for the middleweight title as champ Michael Bisping welcomes again Georges St-Pierre.

A longtime staple of the UFC, Bisping’s higher days had been considered behind him after the veteran sustained an eye fixed harm that was trigger for concern and inconsistent performances alike. But after a storybook resurgence that got here to fruition in 2016, the Englishman earned his long-sought title after beating the likes of Anderson Silva, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson.

Seeking one other legendary identify so as to add to his resume, Bisping has accepted the problem of a returning champion who’s additionally chasing historical past.

Considered the best welterweight of all time, St-Pierre was one of many few to stroll away as champion, in addition to a pound-for-pound nice. Now, practically 4 years after his final look within the octagon, St-Pierre has determined to return north of his standard weight clbad whereas trying to turn into simply the fourth fighter to attain gold in two divisions.

With the intangible of St-Pierre’s prolonged layoff, it may be tough to forecast what model or state the previous welterweight champ will return in.

Given St-Pierre’s insane work ethic, sources and obsessive nature, I’m positive he’s coming into this contest in serviceable, battle-ready situation. Still, I might not be shocked to see a unique model of the French-Canadian, who has had a number of iterations to his sport all through his profession.

Coming from a Kyokushin karate base, St-Pierre’s hanging model shone via in his preliminary ascension up the UFC ranks.

Embracing his sport karate stylings, St-Pierre would nearly bounce out and in of vary, working significantly properly when hanging off of his lead leg. And although he may win fights on the ft, the French-Canadian was an entire fighter who was quietly crafting his wrestling sport (with the badistance of Olympians) for the challenges forward.

Not solely did St-Pierre steadily grow to be among the finest wrestlers within the division, however he – extra importantly – used his newfound expertise to gasoline his love for technique.

After his first profession loss in what was a title combat with UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, St-Pierre started to gameplan way more correctly for his opposition. Against former welterweight title challengers in Frank Trigg and Sean Sherk, we noticed St-Pierre do the unthinkable by out-wrestling two of essentially the most accoladed wrestlers within the division to attain spirit-crushing stoppages.

Although St-Pierre finally earned his first welterweight belt, he rapidly misplaced it to Matt Serra in what was one of many largest upsets in MMA historical past.

From that time on, St-Pierre additional hedged his bets with regard to preparation and technique. After successful again his belt from Serra, St-Pierre continued to pile up victories earlier than retiring following 12 straight wins.

Despite St-Pierre’s conservative model drawing criticism from some, the dominance of his sport paints a fairly clear path for him on this matchup.

Bisping, a stick-and-move stylist, ought to have the on-paper benefits for as lengthy this combat stays standing.

Coming from a kickboxing base, we noticed Bisping steadily evolve his model through the years. After his knockout loss to Henderson, the Englishman made a concerted effort to come back again higher and sounder than earlier than.

Since then, we’ve got seen Bisping enhance upon his hand and head positioning, in addition to sitting down extra on his punches. Although his high-output strategy nonetheless makes him hittable by nature, we’ve got seen Bisping reduce these situations since becoming a member of forces with Jason Parillo.

A hanging coach with robust boxing roots, Parillo has helped many notable fighters develop, together with light-weight legend B.J. Penn. In flip, we now see Bisping transfer way more fluidly together with his footwork, which fuels his pulling and returning preferences.

Applying angles appropriately, Bisping may even change his stage extra, which might open up his choices and make him tougher to hit. What is most spectacular in regards to the Englishman’s renaissance is the truth that he’s doing it with just one wholesome eye.

Shortly after his loss to Vitor Belfort, Bisping sustained an eye fixed harm that required surgical procedure, albeit not corrective.

Despite initially struggling in his return combat in opposition to Tim Kennedy, Bisping has since proven he can come again into fight, carrying a heightened sense of urgency and consciousness about his sport. Coupled with the byproducts of gelling together with his hanging coach, we’ve got seen Bisping have his greatest years throughout what’s arguably the winter of his profession.

Still, hanging enhancements apart, Bisping has demonstrated that he’s not past being taken down, which units up the important thing dynamic for this combat.

Whether it’s via offensive or reactionary takedowns (that happen in opposition to the fence or within the open), I see St-Pierre inevitably getting Bisping to the bottom.

The query, nonetheless, is: What will he be capable of accomplish whereas there?

One of the most effective guard pbaders and floor strikers to grace the octagon, St-Pierre will undoubtedly have an array of choices he can make use of. That stated, he may even be dealing with among the finest get-up artists within the sport.

Although wrestling stress has been Bisping’s conventional foil, he surprisingly succeeds little management time in each wins and losses. Facilitated by energetic hips, the Englishman fantastically makes use of a butterfly or half-guard to create sufficient house to face or scoot his approach to the fence.

Not afraid to turtle and stand if he must, Bisping shows wonderful grip and hip consciousness, making it tough to seize his again within the means of getting up. St-Pierre has proven the power to take an opponent’s again easily, however his conservative sensibilities had him choosing trip positions towards the latter a part of his profession.

Don’t get me improper: St-Pierre electing high-percentage choices shouldn’t be dangerous in principle, however I see his model permitting Bisping to get again to this ft if the French-Canadian isn’t prepared to place his items on the road on the subject of combating for place.

So, with the latest iteration of St-Pierre in thoughts, I’ve a tough time seeing Bisping getting submitted or stopped on the ground until compromised prior. Nevertheless, takedowns rating and can seemingly financial institution St-Pierre rounds, which leads me to my subsequent query: How lengthy will he be capable of make use of his transition sport?

St-Pierre was identified for his conditioning and tempo prior, however he’s coming into this combat a minimum of 15 kilos heavier than standard, with an extra 4 years of ring rust on his again. Whether it’s the burden of the second or the literal kilos placed on, St-Pierre could have some on-the-job intangibles to work via.

Furthermore, the stereotype of St-Pierre’s organic make-up and transition sport shine much less brightly when re-watching his final three fights – matchups that ended up placing essentially the most miles on him, statistically talking.

Not solely did the previous welterweight kingpin, for my part, look like a beat slower in transit (to what was an already slimmed down and refined sport), however St-Pierre additionally appeared to wrestle together with his accuracy and output numerically.

We even noticed Nick Diaz, who has an in any other case vacant double-leg protection, stuff authentic takedown makes an attempt from St-Pierre of their final two rounds of motion. It was additionally within the mid to late rounds by which we noticed St-Pierre maintain essentially the most harm in every of his last three performances.

These kind of developments normally don’t lower over time, however the oddsmakers and public appear to be way more optimistic for the returning legend given how aggressive the betting strains have been.

Part of me is glad to see St-Pierre again, and at last taking a step up within the dimension of his competitors. However, I additionally really feel he’s reaching into the improper cookie jar for a number of causes.

In the combat sport, timing is usually the very first thing to go, and we’ve seen it tax the best names on this sport. If St-Pierre can not discover his end on the ground, then I see him finally succumbing to Bisping’s tempo and stress earlier than the ultimate bell.

Official choose: Bisping insde the space

Official end result: To be decided


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