Underdogs ruled the octagon on Saturday night at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden as all three title matches were won by the challengers. Two of those losses included heavy favorites.
It was the first time in the sport’s history where there were three new champions.
There were 11 bouts on the evening and eight matches on the undercard went more predictably as six of them went to the top pick.
James Vick was a plus-180 and scored a technical knockout of Joe Duffy. Mark Godbeer was a plus-285 and won when Walt Harris was disqualified with an illegal head kick.
It was one of the more successful productions according to UFC President Dana White, who said 18,201 attended in person and there were more pay per view buys in Canada than the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight.
Countryman Takes Title
The main reason for the interest from fans in the Great White North was the return of Quebec native Georges St-Pierre after a four year absence. He was challenging middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping. St-Pierre is an icon in the sport and his retirement in 2013 stunned fans. They were overjoyed that he decided to return in February of this year, signing a four-fight contract.
Though he hadn’t been in a match for four years the 36-year-old former winner was a minus-130 selection over Bisping, who was a plus-100. It soon was apparent why the Montreal resident was picked to win. He scored a left hook in the second that almost stopped the contest and ended it a round later with a rear-naked choke.
“It was a dream come true,” he said after the victory. “He hurt me pretty bad, I tried to hide it but I wouldn’t like to do that fight again.”
Two Other Belts Change Hands
The biggest shock of the event was the upset of Joanna Jedrzejczyk by
Rose Namajunas. Nicknamed “Thug” she needed just over a minute to knockout her opponent, doing so with a left hook. She came into the fight with oddsmakers given her little chance for a victory. She was a plus-310 pick while Jedrzejczyk was tabbed at minus-417.
“It feels like a movie right now,” Namajunas said still stunned she was the new Strawweight belt holder.
The last marquee competition was between former teammates and ended quickly. T.J. Dillashaw earned a TKO in the second round to win back the
bantamweight belt he had won. The victory was set up by a left hook that floored the champion and then the challenger immediately pounced on him with a ground and pound that the referee soon stepped in to stop.
Dillashaw was a plus-110 selection, while Garbrandt a minus-150 pick. The two could face each other again soon.
“Hats off to T.J.” he said in defeat. “He battled back from losing his title, and he was a hungry man. But I say I’m the better fighter in there, and I’ll show that in the rematch.”