For the second time ever UFC take over Madison Square Garden. This time last year, a stacked card was on display and this Saturday will be no different. Here is the main card breakdown.
As always, card subject to change.
(Heavyweight) Walt Harris vs Mark Godbeer: This bout was meant to take place at UFC 216 but unfortunately Walt Harris was moved to the co-main event against former champion Fabricio Werdum as Derrick Lewis was pulled from the card due to a back injury. Harris lost the fight by submission early in the first round. The question is what impact will that have on this fight. Both men are known for KO’s with Harris having an amateur boxing background. Godbeer has a bit more of an all round game but the striking is what he’s known for most. This one is a coin toss.
(Lightweight) James Vick vs Joseph Duffy: This should be an interesting one. Both men are tearing it up in MMA right now. Duffy has an extensive striking background and is one of 2 men who has an MMA win over the current lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Vick, like Duffy is also proficient on the ground and is an all rounder. On paper, Duffy should win but Vick is no pushover and could pick up a W here.
(Middleweight) Johny Hendricks vs Paulo Borrachinha: It’s ironic that the last man who should have beaten GSP would fight on this card. Many including myself would argue that Johny Hendricks beat GSP at UFC 167 and got screwed by the judges. Since that bout 4 years ago he has been on a tail spin in the wins and losses column, in particular losses. He did go on to be welterweight champion after GSP but lost it in his first defence, he then failed to make weight and moved up to middleweight and got a win over Hector Lombard but then lost to Tim Boetsch needless to say, he needs a win here. His opponent is no push over, Borrachinha is 10 – 0 – 0 and like Hendricks is well known for his striking. This will be his first test, he normally finishes fights early but he will be facing a former UFC champion.
(Welterweight) Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal: There’s no doubt Stephen Thompson will get another shot against current champion Tyron Woodley. In his last 2 fights he took the champion to the limit. The first fight ended in a draw which I felt Woodley got the better of him, but the second in which Woodley was awarded the decision, many including myself felt Thompson should have came out the victor. Known for his extensive striking background he steps into the Octagon with another prolific welterweight in Masvidal who like Thompson is a known striker but can also go the distance. Both men are coming off a loss and a lot eyes will be watching for who wins, as they may be next in line for Woodley.
(Women’s Strawweight Championship) Joanna Jedzeiczyk(c) vs Rose Namajunas: Our first title fight of the night. Namajunas has a tall order as she faces #1 pound for pound female in the world right now. Jedzeiczyk is undefeated and is known for striking and going the distance. She can take as much punishment as she dishes out. Namajunas has a good ground game and her only chance here is to take the champ to the ground and she may make history.
(Bantamweight Championship) Cody Garbrandt(c) vs TJ Dillashaw: Originally this was meant to main event International Fight Week at UFC 213 but Garbrandt withdrew due to a back injury. Garbrandt who won the belt from Dominick Cruz at the end of last year will be making his first title defence. His opponent is former bantamweight champion and the man who stopped Renan Barao’s streak. Both men will have almost a year’s ring rust, but this could potentially be fight of the night.
(Middleweight Championship) Michael Bisping(c) vs George St Pierre: To be the man, you gotta beat the man. Despite Bisping been a tear right now and probably in the best stage of his career, he still has critics. Not to say he isn’t prone to silencing critics, but now he faces probably the biggest challenge of his career. GSP is making his return to the octagon for the first time in 4 years. A lot of people including himself thought he was done for good but the tables have turned. Who knows what kind of shape GSP is currently in, plus he’s fighting in a division higher than before. Needless to say Bisping will be looking for a finish to once and for all solidify his reign as champ.