The UFC returned to Madison Square Garden with its biggest card of the year as Georges St-Pierre versus Michael Bisping for the middleweight title headlined UFC 217, with the bantamweight and women’s strawweight titles also being defended on the five fight main card

The main card began in the middleweight division as American former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks(18-7) took on Brazilian Paulo Costa(10-0), with the latter the heavy betting favourite to get the win

Living up his billing as betting favourite, Costa was able to assert himself and early and began to dominate mid-way through the first round with the round consisting entirely of stand up exchanges as Hendricks struggled to cope with the much physically bigger Brazilian

Costa continued his dominance in the second round, and after landing multiple punches he was able to land a big uppercut that rocked and dropped Hendricks, after which the referee stepped in and waved the fight off at 1:23 of the round as the Brazilian extended his undefeated streak

A welterweight bout was up next, as former divisional title contender Stephen Thompson(13-2-1, #2) faced Jorge Masvidal(32-12, #4WW) with the winner placing themselves in the 170lbs title scene

A fight that went all three rounds, Thompson was able to utilise his unorthodox karate style and stance to his advantage and got the better if the striking exchanges, though Masvidal was able to catch his opponent with a left hook in the first round however it was Thompson that dominated the stand-up

After back-and-forth striking exchanges for fifteen minutes, the decision went to the three judges with all three judges giving the victory to Thompson

The first of three title fights was next as undefeated women’s strawweight champion Joanna J?drzejczyk(14-0) defended her championship against challenger Rose Namajunas(7-3, #WSW), with the champion the big betting favourite to retain

In one of the biggest upsets in recent MMA history, Namajunas was able to land a big right hook early that dropped the champion, and after a few more minutes of stand-up action Namajunas landed a left hook that connected and again dropped J?drzejczyk, this time against the fence and after a few more punches on the ground the champion tapped out to the ground and pound punches at 3:03 of the first round as Namajunas bagged the huge upset win and women’s strawweight title in the process

The second of the three title bouts at UFC 217 pitted reigning bantamweight Cody Garbrandt(11-0) against former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw(15-3, #2BW)

A tentative first round was comprised of hesitant stand-up exchanges between the two, however that tentative and hesitant nature was shattered when Garbrandt caught Dillashaw with a solid right hook as he moved in which dropped Dillashaw however the challenger was saved by the end of the round before the champion could pounce and finish the fight

Dillashaw was able to remarkably turn thing around in the second round, as first he was able to land a left head kick that dropped Garbrandt, and then moments after that he connected with a big right hook in an exchange that rocked and dropped the champion and after a few more punches on the champion on the ground the referee stepped in and waved off the bout at 2:41 as Dillashaw is now a two-time bantamweight champion

In the main event, hall-of-fame-bound Georges St-Pierre(25-2) made his return to the Octagon after a four year absence as he took on UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping(31-7), with the challenger the slight betting favourite to get the win

In what was a great first round for St-Pierre, the Canadian managed to get the better of the striking exchanges, utilizing his trademark jab to great effect and also landing a solid right hook that rocked Bisping, and towards the end of the round St-Pierre also managed to secure a single-leg takedown

Bisping has more success in the second round, landing a good right looping hook and generally asserted himself much more, however St-Pierre again was able to complete a takedown though Bisping was able to get back to his feet within seconds as the fight moved into the third round

St-Pierre began the third round by securing a double-leg takedown, however it was Bisping that caused the damage on the ground as he was able to land multiple elbows from the bottom which cut St-Pierre resulting in the challenger losing a lot of blood, however it didn’t matter as a few minutes later St-Pierre landed a counter left hook in an exchange that dropped Bisping, and after a landing some ground and pound elbows and punches St-Pierre took Bisping’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke and chocked the champion unconscious, spectacularly winning the middleweight title at 4:23

By Matthew Singh-Dosanjh