'Big' John McCarthy breaks down bizarre situation that led to Curtis Blaydes' TKO win at UFC 217

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

The star-studded UFC 217 had no shortage of remarkable moments. While most of it was for good reasons, such as massive upsets and unexpected finishes, there was also some negative attention – specifically, some head-scratching refereeing.

The first confusing moment of the night happened in the second bout, when an illegal blow thrown by Curtis Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) on Aleksei Oleinik (55-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) prompted the referee to step in and halt the action. The replay showed that while an illegal kick had been thrown, it had only grazed the ear of Oleinik.

When a doctor’s assessment determined that Oleinik could no longer continue, suspense set in as to what would follow. By the letter of the law, an illegal strike had ultimately made its way to a fighter. But, quite obviously, the fight-stopping damage had not stemmed from it.

Ultimately, Blaydes was declared the TKO winner of the heavyweight bout. And, amid the mess, the MMA community seemed to agree the right call was made. But considering both intent behind the strike and the fact that the blow did touch him, would Oleinik be right in disagreeing with the result?

According to longtime referee “Big” John McCarthy, the answer is a clear no. The referee’s job, he explained, is first and foremost to ensure the safety of the fighters. And, with that in mind, all the steps taken by Blake Grice on that night were the correct ones.

“Blaydes did something that was illegal,” McCarthy said. “He threw a kick and he did touch the ear of Alexi Oleinik. Blake Grice comes in, he calls a stop to the action. When he calls a stop to the action, he separates the fighters – he does exactly what he’s supposed to do.”

When the doctors of the particularly cautious New York State Athletic Commission stepped in to assess the wobbly Oleinik, who’d been through the ringer in the minutes prior to the stoppage, it was decided he was too hurt to go on, which posed additional questions.

“So what was he damaged by?” McCarthy said. “Was he damaged by a foul or was he damaged by legal blows? Well, he was damaged by legal blows. All of the blows that hurt him and made it to where the doctors are now saying, ‘He is unable to continue’ were all done legally in that fight.

“What stopped the fight was an illegal action by Blaydes. He ends up throwing a kick. Did the kick touch Alexei? Yes, it did. It touched his ear. Did it have any effect? Did it hurt him? No. It had no effect on any of the damage he had occurred. ”

Faced with an illegality, the referee had to weigh the options.

“(The referee) says, ‘Yes, there was a foul. And if the fighter can go on, I may take a point for that foul. But I can’t take a point because the fight is not going on,’” McCarthy said. “And I can’t go to the judges scorecards based on the round that this is in.

“So I can now determine that this is either a no-contest, or I have a disqualification, or I can say that because the doctors say that the fight can’t go and that was caused by legal blow, this is a TKO victory by Blaydes.”

Ultimately, McCarthy believes that Grice’s thought process was one that did right by Blaydes, by the commission and even, as unhappy as he may have been hearing it at the time, Oleinik.

McCarthy also took the time to address what became yet another controversial point of that fight. Once the instant replay was requested, UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Rather could be seen showing it to officials on a screen octagonside.

Considering that the commissions are supposed to work independently from the UFC, and that Ratner is ultimately an employee who looks out for the interests of the promotion, his seeming involvement in NYSAC’s decision raised some eyebrows. And it wasn’t the first time.

Ratner’s role, McCarthy explained, is to use his expertise to provide insight and answers to the UFC’s commentary team – not commission officials. And, while he’ll admit that Ratner has in the past been (unwillingly) “stuck” in situations that he shouldn’t be involved in, that’s not at all what happened at UFC 217.

“What occurred was, Blake asked for instant replay,” McCarthy said. “And the commission has a monitor, but they couldn’t get the replay up on the monitor. So Marc took and swung his monitor around, said, ‘Here it is.’ And let them view his monitor.

“If you look, Marc’s not giving him any information. He’s got (referee) Dan Miragliotta there and he watches the replay on that monitor that is Marc’s monitor.”

To hear more from McCarthy on refereeing, instant replay and UFC 217 controversy, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 217 medical suspensions: Georges St-Pierre, Stephen Thompson receive 45 days

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Georges St-Pierre’s triumphant return at UFC 217 earned him the middleweight title and a 45-day medical suspension, likely from some nasty cuts courtesy of Michael Bisping.

St-Pierre’s (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) former training partner, Stephen Thompson (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC), walked away from the event with a unanimous-decision win over Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) and the same 45-day term.

MMAjunkie today received a full list of medical suspensions stemming from this past Saturday’s event, which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York and was regulated by the New York State Athletic Commission.

Citing medical privacy laws, the commission said it does not release details on the nature of the suspensions.

Thompson reported a thumb injury in the wake of his win, leading to speculation about his readiness to return for a proposed fight with Darren Till at a UFC event scheduled for Feb. 24. After UFC President Dana White confirmed the matchup, Thompson told MMAWeekly.com he had not received or accepted an offer to face Till.

All fighters received a minimum 7-day suspension.

The full list of medical suspensions from UFC 217 include:

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC 217 post-event facts: Record set as 3 new champs crowned in historic night

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UFC 217 will go down in the history books as one of the most memorable fight cards in UFC history. Underdogs reigned supreme as three new champions were crowned and a remarkable nine of 11 fights ended inside the distance.

With memorable action from beginning to end, the fact all three title bouts changed hands will be the cornerstone of UFC 217, which took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) returned from a four-year hiatus to take the middleweight title from Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC). T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) knocked out former teammate and rival Cody Garbrandt(11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) to take back the bantamweight title in the co-headliner, and in the most unexpected outcome of all, Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) dethroned Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) of strawweight gold with a quick knockout.

The biggest UFC event of the year lived up to the hype, and it showed on paper. Check below for 50 post-event facts and footnotes to come out of UFC 217.

* * * *

General

UFC 217 became the first event in UFC history to have three new champions crowned.

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $315,000.

St-Pierre, Dillashaw and Namajunas earned $50,000 UFC 217 fight-night bonuses. Ovince Saint Preux and Ricardo Ramos received $25,000 bonuses.

UFC 217 drew an announced attendance of 18,201 for a live gate of $6.2 million.

Betting favorites went 5-6 on the card.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 1:46:17.

Main card

Georges St-Pierre

St-Pierre became the fourth fighter in UFC history to win titles in two weight classes. Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and Conor McGregor have also accomplished the feat.

St-Pierre’s 13 victories in UFC championship fights are the most in company history.

St-Pierre’s 20 victories in UFC competition are tied with Bisping for most in company history.

St-Pierre’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is tied with champ Demetrious Johnson for longest among active fighters in the company. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since April 2007.

St-Pierre’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is tied with Johnson and Jon Jones for second longest in company history behind Anderson Silva (16).

St-Pierre earned his first submission victory since Dec. 29, 2007 – a span of 3,598 days (nearly 10 years) and 11 fights.

St-Pierre’s 87 takedowns landed in UFC competition are most in company history.

Michael Bisping

Bisping had his five-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since November 2014.

Bisping has suffered his past two losses by submission after going his entire career without being submitted.

Dillashaw’s 11 victories in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s 11 victories in UFC/WEC bantamweight competition are tied with Urijah Faber for second most in divisional history behind Dominick Cruz (12).

Dillashaw’s seven stoppage victories in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s six knockout victories in UFC bantamweight competition are most in divisional history.

T.J. Dillashaw

Dillashaw’s seven knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Garbrandt (eight).

Dillashaw’s seven fight-night bonuses for UFC bantamweight bouts are the most in divisional history.

Garbrandt became the first UFC bantamweight champion to lose the title before making a successful defense.

Garbrandt had his 11-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Garbrandt’s eight knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Rose Namajunas

Namajunas became the third UFC strawweight champion.

Namajunas’ five victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied with Tecia Torres for second most in divisional history behind Jedrzejczyk (eight).

Namajunas’ four stoppage victories in UFC strawweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Namajunas earned the first knockout victory of her career.

Jedrzejczyk had her 14-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her professional career.

Stephen Thompson’s (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) nine knockdowns landed in UFC welterweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Thiago Alves (13) and Jake Ellenberger (11).

Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) fell to 4-4 since he returned to the welterweight division in July 2015.

Masvidal has suffered 10 of his 13 career losses by decision. That includes all five of his UFC defeats.

Paulo Costa

Paulo Costa (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned all 11 of his career victories by stoppage.

Costa has earned 10 of his 11 career victories by knockout. That includes all three of his UFC wins.

Johny Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) fell to 1-2 since he moved up to the UFC middleweight division in February.

Hendricks fell to 1-5 in his past six fights.

Hendricks has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Preliminary card

Joseph Duffy (16-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Walt Harris (10-7 MMA, 3-6 UFC) suffered his second UFC loss in a 28-day stretch.

Harris fell to 3-3 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in April 2016.

Ovince Saint Preux

Ovince Saint Preux (22-10 MMA, 10-5 UFC) earned his second UFC victory in a 42-day stretch.

Saint Preux’s three-fight UFC winning streak in light-heavyweight competition is tied with Mauricio Rua and Volkan Oezdemir for the longest active streak in the division.

Saint Preux’s eight stoppage victories since 2013 in UFC competition are most in the light-heavyweight division and tied with Derrick Lewis and Max Holloway for second most in the company behind Donald Cerrone (nine).

Saint Preux has earned 17 of his 22 career victories by stoppage. That includes eight of his 10 UFC wins.

Corey Anderson (9-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Mickey Gall

Mickey Gall (4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) had his four-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Curtis Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has earned seven of his eight career victories by stoppage, all by knockout.

Aleksei Oleinik (52-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) suffered his first knockout loss since July 22, 2011 – a span of 2,297 days (more than six years) and 15 fights.

Ramos (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned nine of his 11 career victories by stoppage.

Ramos became the second fighter in UFC history to earn a knockout victory stemming from a spinning back elbow. Dong Hyun Kim also accomplished the feat The Ultimate Fighter China Finale.

Aiemann Zahabi (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his seven-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her career.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 217's Curtis Blaydes gives his side of story on confusing finish vs. Aleksei Oleinik

NEW YORK – Curtis Blaydes saw an opportunity on the horizon when he noticed Aleksei Oleinik pop up off the mat in the first round of their fight. He figured he’d take advantage – and score an extra $50,000 – by greeting the Ukrainian-Russian fighter with a kick to the face in the second.

Blaydes had never rehearsed this kick, mind you. It’s hard to simulate something like that in practice. Still, no risk, no reward.

“I was trying to get a bonus,” Blaydes said after a controversial TKO of Oleinik in the second frame of their UFC Fight Pass-streamed meeting at UFC 217. “That’s what I get for trying to get a bonus.”

What Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) didn’t know at the time was that the damage he’d done in the first round had already left Oleinik (55-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) on wobbly legs. There would be no popping up when he got off the mat.

So when Oleinik got up in the second, instead of delivering a square foot to the face, Blaydes went to kick off Oliynyk’s head. As it turned out, he’d only grazed the ear. But in the moment, it looked like a blatantly illegal strike.

The referee immediately stopped the bout, throwing the bout into confusion and drawing the crowd’s ire at Madison Square Garden. Blaydes was sure he missed the strike. But he worried officials would see it otherwise and disqualify him.

“I’m looking at (Oleinik’s) face, and he seemed happy,” Blaydes said. “The way people reacted when I threw the kick, they had me second guessing, like, ‘Maybe I missed it, maybe I did kick him, (and) I just didn’t feel it.’ But watching the replay, I missed cleanly.”

When the sequence was reviewed by the referee, he did, in fact, determine that contact had been made. But in the end, that wound up being irrelevant, because the cageside doctor had determined Oleinik was unable to continue.

It was an awkward way to end a fight. The crowd certainly didn’t like it, chanting, “Let them fight.” Blaydes could only be thankful the call had gone his way.

“I was really hoping to get a clean knockout without having a doctor or any controversy,” Blaydes said. “But a win’s a win, so I’ll take it.”

Next time, he said, he’ll try to be a little more careful. And maybe only try moves he’s tested in the gym.

“I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth,” he said. “I won. I’m happy.”

Watch the above video to get Blaydes full reaction to his controversial fight.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC 217 Athlete Outfitting pay: 3 title fights help move 2017 payout past $5 million

NEW YORK – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC 217 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $315,000.

UFC 217 took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way were the three fighters who entered – but did not exit – the event as champions. Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC), Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) all received a maximum program payout of $40,000 as reigning champions coming into the card.

Those three title fights pushed the UFC 217 payout total to the second-highest mark of an event in 2017 and pushed the year’s total north of $5 million.

The full UFC 217 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Michael Bisping: $40,000
Georges St-Pierre: $30,000

Cody Garbrandt: $40,000
T.J. Dillashaw: $30,000

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: $40,000
Rose Namajunas: $30,000

Stephen Thompson: $10,000
Jorge Masvidal: $15,000

Paulo Costa: $2,500
def. Johny Hendricks: $20,000

James Vick: $5,000
def. Joseph Duffy: $5,000

Ovince Saint Preux: $15,000
def. Corey Anderson: $5,000

Mark Godbeer: $2,500
def. Walt Harris: $5,000

Randy Brown: $5,000
def. Mickey Gall: $2,500

Curtis Blaydes: $2,500
def. Aleksei Oleinik: $5,000

Ricardo Ramos: $2,500
def. Aiemann Zahabi: $2,500

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $5,077,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $15,400,500

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC 217, including one the UFC got wrong

While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Saturday’s UFC 217 in New York City, went with as their backing tracks – though we later found out new strawweight champion Rose Namanjunas intended to have a different tune, only to have a production error end up with the result listed below.

* * * *

Georges St-Pierre def Bisping via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:23

Georges St-Pierre: “Afro Trap Pt. 7 (La Puissance)” by MHD

Michael Bisping: “Song 2” by Blur

T.J. Dillashaw def. Cody Garbrandt via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 2:41

T.J. Dillashaw: “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Cody Garbrandt: “We Will Rock You” by Queen

Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via KO (punches) – Round 1, 3:03

Rose Namajunas: “Supersonic” by Oasis

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: “Przejmij Ster Swoje Dlonie” by Rena Gosx Gutek

Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

Stephen Thompson: “Wonderboy” by Tenacious D

Jorge Masvidal: “Tony Montana” (Scarface Theme Song)

Paulo Costa def. Johny Hendricks via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:23

Paulo Costa: “2026” by Lagum

Johny Hendricks: “I’ll Sing About Mine” by Josh Abbott Band

James Vick def. Joe Duffy via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:59

James Vick: “Bring Em Out” by T.I.

Joseph Duffy: “Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile” by Sean Mor

Mark Godbeer def. Walt Harris via disqualification (illegal kick) – Round 2, 4:29

Mark Godbeer: “Supersonic” by Oasis

Walt Harris: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

Ovince Saint Preux def. Corey Anderson via knockout (head kick) – Round 3, 1:25

Ovince Saint Preux: “Push It” by Rick Ross

Corey Anderson: “My Time” by Fabolous

Randy Brown def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)

Randy Brown: “Broad Daylight” by Vybz Kartel

Mickey Gall: “Hey Mickey/Woke Up This Morning” by Toni Basil/Alabama 3

Curtis Blaydes def. Aleksei Oleinik via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 2, 1:56

Curtis Blaydes: “Encounter The Ultimate (Mortal Kombat Theme)” by The Immortals

Aleksei Oleinik: “Ballad For The Suppression” by Vladimir Vysotsky

Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi via knockout (spinning elbow) – Round 3, 1:58

Ricardo Ramos: “Get Your Walk On” by Xzibit

Aiemann Zahabi: “Still Crusin” by Eazy E feat. The Game

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Confused by the Curtis Blaydes-Aleksei Oleinik finish at UFC 217? Here's an explanation

If you’re looking for bizarre violence that leaves everyone confused, it’s tough to beat a heavyweight prelim. Curtis Blaydes and Aleksei Oleinik made sure to remind us of that fact in just the second fight of UFC 217 on Saturday, and now that it’s over it’s still tough to know exactly what happened.

Here’s what we do know: Late in the opening round of the UFC Fight Pass prelim bout, Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) put it on Oleinik (55-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC). It was fierce. Blaydes knocked him down once, then essentially let him fall down under his own power shortly thereafter, and the net result was to send a bloodied and dazed Oleinik staggering back to his corner when the round ended.

But early in the second, that’s when things got weird. As Oleinik was scrambling to get up off the mat, Blaydes went to soccer kick him in the head for some reason. It was dumb and blatantly illegal, but fortunately for Blaydes the kick missed.

Which is to say it mostly missed.

Replay confirmed that Blaydes made the slightest contact as his foot passed by Oleinik’s ear, resulting in basically a delicate flick of the ear from Blaydes’ toe.

Still, the attempt at an illegal blow was enough for referee Blake Grice to call in the doctor, who, in fairness, did have plenty to look at thanks to the earlier work Blaydes had done on Oleinik’s face. In the ensuing discussion, Oleinik did not seem terribly enthusiastic about continuing, and so the bout was waved off.

But wait, who wins? The pause in the action came as a result of a foul – and technically speaking, the intentional illegal kick did connect with Oleinik’s head – but you’d be hard-pressed to convince anyone that it had any effect.

After reviewing the replay and discussing it with UFC VP Marc Ratner and longtime referee Dan Miragliotta, Grice got back in the cage to declare it a TKO win for Blaydes, who summed up the confusion with this post-fight victory pose.

“A W is a W,” Blaydes said after the fight. “I still get my money. I still get to move up in the rankings.”

And thus, a strange ending to what had been an exciting heavyweight tilt. Somehow it managed to feel like the right result, even if it seemed like it might have taken some logically suspicious guesswork to get there.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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10 reasons to watch UFC 217, where everyone seems to be beefin' in a big way

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The UFC made its debut at Madison Square Garden a year ago with UFC 205. Like the first event at the venerated arena, Saturday’s UFC 217 lineup features three title fights at the top of the card.

Trash-talk has been at a premium ahead of the trio of championship bouts. Middleweight champion Michael Bisping chided his opponent, Georges St-Pierre, by saying the former welterweight champ “hasn’t got the balls to fight anyone that he doesn’t think he can beat.”

Not to be outdone, bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt dismissed former champ T.J. Dillashaw as nothing more than a distraction ahead of a desired fight with flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson.

Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk got more personal in her attack. She called her challenger, Rose Namajunas, “mentally unstable” in the lead up to their contest.

UFC 217 takes place in New York City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. It’s about more than gold

St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) knows there’s a lot more on the line than a title at UFC 217. After four years away from the sport, the surefire UFC Hall of Famer returns to the octagon to put his legacy on the line against middleweight champ Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC).

There are UFC fans out there who never saw St-Pierre compete during his historic run through the 170-pound division. If he fails in his quest to become the fourth UFC fighter to hold titles in two weight divisions, those fans could look at St-Pierre as nothing more than a has-been, a diminished competitor who should have stayed away from the game. For a proud fighter like St-Pierre, that would be heartbreaking.

As for Bisping, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middle rankings, he would love nothing more than to bloviate about adding another UFC legend to his list of recently vanquished opponents.

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2. Good, clean hate

Garbrandt has been one of Dillashaw’s fiercest critics. He claims his former teammate lacks loyalty. At times the current bantamweight champion has come across as almost obsessed with his former teammate.

Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has taken Dillashaw’s (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) departure from the Team Alpha Male camp extremely personally. His preoccupation with No. 3-ranked Dillashaw could help or hurt him in this, his first title defense.

If Garbrandt brings too much emotion into this fight, he might become unfocused and over-aggressive. On the flip side, if he’s able to focus his anger, Garbrandt could prove to be a big problem for Dillashaw.

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3. The memory remains

Ronda Rousey’s presence looms over the fight between Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) and Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

In 2014, UFC President Dana White implied Namajunas had the potential to be a Rousey-like presence. Namajunas, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the strawweight division, fell short of that prediction when she dropped a title fight to Carla Esparza that year.

At the time White made his claim about Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk was 1-0 in the UFC. Today, the Polish star is the unbeaten strawweight champion. With a victory at UFC 217, Jedrzejczyk will tie Rousey’s UFC record of six consecutive title defenses for a female champ and extend her UFC unbeaten streak to nine.

It’s hard to see anyone replacing Rousey in the minds of mainstream fans, but with a victory at UFC 217 – and a big marketing push – one of these women could become the dominant face of female fighting in the UFC.

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4. Sometimes things just work out for everyone

In June, welterweight title hopefuls Stephen Thompson and Jorge Masvidal both appeared at a fan Q&A. During that appearance, they were asked about a possible fight between them.

“We definitely want it, to get together and get out there in the octagon and face off,” Thompson said. “Obviously, you saw him in his last fight, which I thought he won against Demian Maia. (Masvidal is) a very good striker, and I think it’s going to be fireworks.”

Not long after, the UFC booked the fight between No. 2-ranked Thompson (13-2-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and No. 9 Masvidal (32-12 MMA, 9-5 UFC).

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With both fighters anxious to get back in the win column after losses in their most recent bouts, this matchup could be a sleeper pick for “Fight of the Night.”

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5. Prospect vs. former champ

Rising middleweight prospect Paulo Costa (he’s no longer going by Paulo Borrachinha) has never been past the 6:06 mark in his 10 professional fights. The rankings honorable mention meets Johny Hendricks at UFC 217.

Costa, the former Jungle Fight middleweight champ, has devastated his two UFC opponents, stopping both Garreth McLellan and Oluwale Bamgbose with powerful strikes.

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Hendricks’ best bet in this fight might be to return to his wrestling roots and test Costa (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) on the ground. Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC) is mired in the worst run of his professional career. The former welterweight champion is 3-7 in his past 10 fights. He lost his most recent contest, to Tim Boetsch via second-round TKO.

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6. First fight on new deals

Two lightweights who recently signed new contracts meet in the featured prelim. James Vick secured a four-fight deal after his first-round knockout of Marco Polo Reyes in May. In July, Joseph Duffy earned a seven-fight pact after a brief time on the free-agent market. Duffy defeated Reza Madadi by decision in the last fight of his previous deal.

While both of these fighters are well-rounded, they prefer to do most of their work standing. Duffy (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has a very good boxing game while rankings honorable mention Vick (11-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC), who is 5 inches taller than Duffy, uses his height and reach to employ more of a kickboxing style.

If these two can deliver the striking battle this booking suggests, the winner could be in line to face a ranked opponent in his next bout.

7. Ambitious plans

With his placement on this card, it looks like Corey Anderson’s star has fallen a bit. Anderson recently fought in UFC Fight Night 107’s main event, where Jimi Manuwa knocked him out in the first round. Despite the devastating loss, Anderson remained upbeat.

“I’m in this sport to be the best, eventually. I’m not the best right now, but eventually I will be,” Anderson told MMAjunkie. “I plan on it before I leave this sport, and wherever it is, I’ve got to go, I’m willing to go.”

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Anderson (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), a light heavyweight rankings honorable mention, faces No. 10 ranked Ovince Saint Preux (21-10 MMA, 9-5 UFC), a short-notice replacement for Patrick Cummins. Saint Preux has won his two most recent bouts via Von Flue choke.

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8. A fourth ‘title’ fight

Mickey Gallrecently crowned himself the “Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight” champion. Gall signed with the UFC after winning his pro debut during the filming of the first episode of that show. In his most recent bout, the New Jersey-based fighter submitted Sage Northcutt, who signed with the UFC during the filming of the pilot of the reality show.

At UFC 217, Gall (4-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) fights for the first time in nearly 11 months. His opponent, Randy Brown (9-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC), was signed to the UFC after the same “Dana White: Lookin’ For a Fight” episode in which White watched Gall compete, hence the fictional title Gall is defending.

Brown lost his most recent bout to Belal Muhamad by decision.

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9. Some differences

There’s a vast difference in experience between heavyweights Aleksei Oleinik and Curtis Blaydes.

Blaydes, who made his debut in 2014, has nine bouts under his belt. He was 6 when Oleinik made his debut in 1997. The Russian has fought 63 times since then.

The gap between the two in the rankings is much smaller. Blaydes (7-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is No. 15 in the division while Oleinik (55-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is an honorable mention.

Blaydes has looked better in each of his four UFC fights, but he showed an inability to adjust when things went sideways in his most recent bout, a decision win over Daniel Omielańczuk. In that contest he attempted takedown after takedown even though he was unable to put his opponent on the mat. That could be a problem against a veteran like Oleinik.

Oleinik submitted Travis Browne in his most recent bout.

10. Be in your seat

Rising bantamweights Aiemann Zahabi and Ricardo Ramos meet in UFC 217’s opening bout.

Zahabi is a good technical fighter who prepares well for his opponents. That should be expected considering he is the younger brother of famed trainer Firas Zahabi. The one knock against Zahabi in his UFC debut was that he was a little too patient. His six first-round finishes indicate he can step up the aggression.

Ramos (10-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), like Zahabi (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), likes to fight at distance. He’s good with his counters, but he too was reluctant to work in close during his UFC debut. Ramos is an outstanding ground fighter with six submission wins to his name. He could have trouble getting this fight to the ground as Zahabi defended 11 of 13 takedown attempts in his sole UFC fight.

There is the possibility that this could be a snoozer, but there’s also the chance these two will be anxious to show how they’ve developed since their promotional debuts.

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For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC 217 pre-event facts: All 6 title-fight competitors sport astoundingly deep resumes

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

UFC 217 is arguably the most significant event of the organization’s 2017 schedule, and unsurprisingly, the deck has been stacked with three title fights and a number of marquee stars.

From the anticipated UFC main event between middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), to the bantamweight title grudge match between champ Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and T.J. Dillashaw’s (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), to the showdown for strawweight gold between titleholder Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) and Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC), UFC 217 has a little bit of something for everyone.

Check below for 65 pre-event facts about UFC 217, which airs Saturday on pay-per-view from Madison Square Garden in New York City following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Main event

Go in-depth with the numbers behind the Bisping vs. St-Pierre middleweight title fight.

Co-main event

Cody Garbrandt

Garbrandt is one of nine fighters in UFC history to win a belt with an undefeated record.

Garbrandt’s five-fight UFC winning streak in bantamweight competition is tied with Jimmie Rivera for the longest active streak in the division.

Garbrandt has earned nine of his 11 career victories by knockout. That includes four of his six UFC wins.

Garbrandt’s seven knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw is one of six cast members from “The Ultimate Fighter” to win an undisputed UFC championship.

T.J. Dillashaw

Dillashaw competes in his 14th UFC bantamweight bout, tied with Takeya Mizugaki for the second most appearances in divisional history behind  UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber (15).

Dillashaw’s 10 victories in UFC bantamweight competition are tied with Faber for most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s 10 victories in UFC/WEC bantamweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Dominick Cruz (12) and Faber (11).

Dillashaw’s six stoppage victories in UFC bantamweight competition are tied with Faber for most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s five knockout victories in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s five knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Garbrandt (seven) and Eddie Wineland (six).

T.J. Dillashaw

Dillashaw is one of two fighters in UFC history to land 100 or more significant strikes in five consecutive fights. Jedrzejczyk also accomplished the feat.

Dillashaw scored the latest head-kick knockout finish in UFC history when he stopped Joe Soto at the 2:20 mark of Round 5 at UFC 177.

Dillashaw is one of two fighters in UFC history to earn two or more fifth-round stoppage victories. Flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson also accomplished the feat.

Dillashaw lands 5.38 strikes landed per minute in UFC bantamweight competition, the second highest rate in divisional history behind Thomas Almeida (6.0).

Dillashaw’s 12 submission attempts in UFC bantamweight competition are tied with Alex Caceres for most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s six fight-night bonuses for UFC bantamweight bouts are the most in divisional history.

Women’s title bout

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jedrzejczyk became the first Polish-born champion in UFC history when she defeated Carla Esparza at UFC 185.

Jedrzejczyk is one of nine fighters in UFC history to win a belt with an undefeated record.

Jedrzejczyk’s five consecutive UFC title defenses are second most among current champions behind D. Johnson (11).

Jedrzejczyk’s six victories in UFC title fights are tied with Ronda Rousey for most of any female in company history.

Jedrzejczyk competes in her ninth UFC strawweight bout, the most appearances in divisional history.

Jedrzejczyk’s eight-fight UFC winning streak in strawweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Jedrzejczyk’s eight victories in UFC competition are tied with champ Amanda Nunes and Jessica Andrade for most of any female in company history.

Jedrzejczyk’s eight victories in UFC strawweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Jedrzejczyk has earned nine of her 14 career victories by decision. That includes six of her eight UFC wins.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jedrzejczyk has out-landed her opponents 971-328 in significant strikes over her past six UFC appearances.

Jedrzejczyk is the only fighter in UFC history to land 200 or more significant strikes in two separate bouts.

Jedrzejczyk is one of two fighters in UFC history to land 100 or more significant strikes in five consecutive fights. Dillashaw also accomplished the feat.

Jedrzejczyk’s 225 significant strikes landed against Andrade at UFC 211 are a UFC title-fight record. She also holds the second highest amount with 220 against Valerie Letourneau at UFC 193.

Jedrzejczyk’s 225 significant strikes landed at UFC 211 are second most in a UFC fight behind Nate Diaz’s 238 significant strikes against Donald Cerrone at UFC 141 in December 2011.

Jedrzejczyk’s 75 leg kicks landed against Andrade at UFC 211 are the single-fight UFC record. She also holds the second highest amount with 70 against Letourneau at UFC 193.

Jedrzejczyk’s three fight-night bonuses for UFC strawweight bouts are the most in divisional history.

Namajunas competes in her seventh UFC strawweight bout, tied for the second most appearances in divisional history behind Jedrzejczyk (nine).

Rose Namajunas

Namajunas’ four victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Jedrzejczyk (eight) and Tecia Torres (five).

Namajunas has earned five of her six career victories by submission.

Namajunas’ three stoppage victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied with Paige VanZant for the most in divisional history.

Namajunas’ three submission victories in UFC strawweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Namajunas’ submission of VanZant at the 2:25 mark of Round 5 at UFC Fight Night 80 stands as the latest stoppage in UFC strawweight history and the latest stoppage overall in a women’s UFC bout.

Namajunas’ eight takedowns landed against VanZant at UFC Fight Night 80 stand as the single-fight record for a women’s UFC bout.

Namajunas’ 14 successful guard passes against VanZant at UFC Fight Night 80 stand as the single-fight record for a women’s UFC bout.

Remaining main card

Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson (13-2-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) enters the event on a two-fight winless skid. He hasn’t earned a victory since June 2016.

Thompson’s five knockout victories since 2012 in UFC welterweight competition are second most in the division behind Matt Brown (six).

Thompson’s five fight-night bonuses since 2012 for UFC welterweight bouts are tied for second most in the division behind Erick Silva (seven).

Jorge Masvidal (32-12 MMA, 9-5 UFC) is 4-3 since he returned to the welterweight division in July 2015.

Masvidal is one of five fighters in UFC history to finish a bout by submission at the 4:59 mark of Round 2. He accomplished the feat against Michael Chiesa at UFC on FOX 8.

Masvidal has suffered nine of his 12 career losses by decision. That includes all five of his UFC defeats.

Johny Hendricks

Johny Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC) is 1-1 since he moved up to the UFC middleweight division in February.

Hendricks is 1-4 in his past five fights.

Hendricks is one of five fighters in UFC history to record three or more knockout victories in less than one minute each.

Hendricks and Lawler combined for 308 significant strikes landed at UFC 171, tied for second most ever for a UFC title fight behind Jedrzejczyk vs. Letourneau at UFC 193 (323 combined significant strikes).

Paulo Borrachinha (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned all 10 of his career victories by stoppage.

Borrachinha has earned nine of his 10 career victories by knockout. That includes both of his UFC wins.

Preliminary card

Joseph Duffy

Joseph Duffy (16-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has earned 14 of his 16 career victories by stoppage. He’s finished 13 opponents in the first round and eight in less than two minutes each.

Duffy has earned all three of his UFC stoppage victories in the first round.

Duffy’s 25-second submission of Mitch Clarke at UFC Fight Night 90 is the fourth fastest submission finish in UFC lightweight history.

Walt Harris (10-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) competes in his second UFC bout in a 28-day stretch. He lost to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 216 this past month.

Harris is 3-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in April 2016.

Harris has earned all 10 of his career victories by knockout.

Harris defends 63 percent of all opponent significant strike attempts in UFC heavyweight competition, the highest rate among active fighters in the weight class.

Mickey Gall

Mickey Gall (4-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned all four of his career victories by submission in a total fight time of 12:32.

Gall’s three-fight submission streak in UFC competition is the longest among active fighters.

Gall’s 45-second submission of Mike Jackson at UFC Fight Night 82 tied the mark for fourth fastest submission in UFC welterweight history.

Aleksei Oleinik (52-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has earned 42 of his 52 career victories by submission. He’s finished 36 of those wins in Round 1.

Oleinik has earned his past 14 victories by stoppage. That includes all four of his UFC wins.

Oleinik is the only fighter in UFC history to earn an Ezekiel choke submission victory. He accomplished the feat at UFC Fight Night 103.

Corey Anderson

Corey Anderson (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) lands 5.01 significant strikes per minute in UFC light-heavyweight competition, the highest rate among active fighters in the weight class.

Anderson completes 50 percent of his takedown attempts in UFC light-heavyweight competition, the third highest rate in divisional history behind Lyoto Machida (65 percent) and Glover Teixeira (51.4 percent).

Anderson’s 61-second knockout of Matt Van Buren at the TUF 19 Finale stands as the fastest finish in a “TUF” tournament final.

Ovince Saint Preux (21-10 MMA, 9-5 UFC) competes in his second UFC fight in a 42-day span. He defeated Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 1117 in September.

Saint Preux’s two-fight UFC winning streak in light heavyweight competition is tied for the second longest active streak in the division behind Mauricio Rua (three) and Volkan Oezdemir (three).

Saint Preux’s nine victories since 2013 in UFC light heavyweight competition are the most in the division.

Saint Preux has earned 16 of his 21 career victories by stoppage. That includes seven of his nine UFC wins.

Saint Preux’s seven stoppage victories since 2013 in UFC competition are most in the light heavyweight division and tied for fourth most in the company behind Cerrone (nine), champ Max Holloway (eight) and Derrick Lewis (eight).

Ovince Saint Preux

Saint Preux’s four submission victories in UFC light-heavyweight competition are tied with Renato Sobral for second most in divisional history behind Jon Jones (five).

Saint Preux’s three Von Flue choke submissions in UFC/WEC/PRIDE/Strikeforce are the most in combined company history. No one else has more than one.

Saint Preux has earned three of the five Von Flue choke victories in UFC history. Jason Von Flue and Jordan Rinaldi also accomplished the feat.

Saint Preux’s two technical submission victories in UFC competition are tied for second most in company history behind Frank Mir (three).

Saint Preux vs. Okami was just the second fight in UFC history to feature zero combined significant strike attempts. Ilir Latifi vs. Cyrille Diabate at UFC on FUEL TV 6 was the other.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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Bisping-GSP, Garbrandt-Dillashaw title fights among 7 official for UFC 217

Two championship belts will be on the line when the UFC makes its second visit this November to the famous Madison Square Garden in New York.

In the main event of the Nov. 4 pay-per-view lineup (which follows prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass), Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) will defend the UFC middleweight championship against Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC). Bantamweight titleholder Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) takes on rival T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in the co-headliner.

Both title bouts were confirmed on Tuesday’s episode of “UFC Tonight” on FS1.

The matchup between Bisping and St-Pierre has been an on-again, off-again mess after it was announced in March that former UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre would end his nearly 4-year hiatus to fight Bisping, despite never having competed at 185 pounds.

St-Pierre hasn’t fought since 2013, when he notched his ninth consecutive welterweight title defense with a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. St-Pierre then vacated the title and took a break from competition. After St-Pierre recently flirted with a return, UFC officials announced earlier this year that the 36-year-old Canadian MMA great would fight Bisping sometime later in the year.

However, St-Pierre then said he could not fight until at least November due to outside commitments, and an irked UFC President Dana White later said the fight was off. Bisping was then slated to fight top contender Yoel Romero.

But when Bisping subsequently revealed a knee injury (while St-Pierre declared a lingering eye issue), Plan B for Bisping-Romero also was scrapped. Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) then lost a decision to fellow contender Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) for an interim title earlier this month at UFC 213.

White suggested a knee injury recently suffered by Whittaker opened the door for St-Pierre to cut the line.

With Whittaker the challenger in waiting, White said in July that St-Pierre would instead fight the winner of this past Saturday’s UFC 214 co-headliner between current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and challenger Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC). However, with Woodley’s heavily panned unanimous-decision win over Maia, that apparently opened the door for St-Pierre vs. Bisping once again.

Garbrandt and Dillashaw have a tenuous history after being teammates for several years at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. Dillashaw unceremoniously left the gym to train with striking coach Duane Ludwig in Colorado, and the disdain with former teammates such as Garbrandt and Urijah Faber has grown thicker ever since.

The feud grew deeper when the pair served as opposing coaches on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Dillashaw handled Garbrandt in the coaching aspect, seeing a greater number of his fighters advance through the tournament, with Jesse Taylor ultimately winning the tournament crown.

Garbrandt was forced to withdraw from their planned UFC 213 bout in July due to a back injury that required treatment. He’s been rehabbing since and is ready to go for UFC 217.

Also confirmed for UFC 217 was a heavyweight bout between Curtis Blaydes (7-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Aleksei Oleinik (52-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), a light-heavyweight showdown between Corey Anderson (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Patrick Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) and a bantamweight bout between Ricardo Ramos (10-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Aiemann Zahabi (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC).

The latest UFC 217 lineup now includes:

  • Champ Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre – for middleweight title
  • Champ Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw – for bantamweight title
  • Paulo Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Aleksei Oleinik
  • Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cutelaba
  • Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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