Ariel Helwani managed to out-Dana White Dana White in some fantastic promo-work for next month’s UFC 217.
2017 has been a pretty mixed year for mixed martial arts and the UFC, in particular. With the absence of the sport’s biggest star Conor McGregor has come some admittedly embarrassing pay-per-view numbers at the worst of times, a clear sign that the UFC’s usually rich pool of star-power is running low but with UFC 217 just around the corner, all signs point towards them finishing the year on a high.
On November 4, the UFC will make their long-awaited return to Madison Square Garden in a card that many are citing amongst the very best the promotion has ever put on.
Unbeaten strawweight superstar Joanna Jedrzejczyk is third on the billing as she faces the truly unique challenge that up-and-comer Rose Namajunas presents. And though Joanna is heavily-favoured in this matchup, in ‘Thug’ Rose she is up against a proven finisher whose skillset is about as diverse as anyone’s at 115lbs right now so I would warn anyone who is writing the challenger off to be cautious in doing so.
One of the greatest grudge matches in UFC history will take place in the co-main event as the former-champ TJ Dillashaw looks to put a beating on the man, in Cody Garbrandt, who has been something of a sworn enemy for some time now.
The story of Dillashaw’s exit from Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male is well-documented at this stage but for those who are uninterested in the politics of it all, the fight itself – on paper – is about as good a matchup you can make in the sport today. It’s one hell of a warm-up for the grand spectacle and a fight that could have easily headlined its own show alone.
Of course, Michael Bisping’s second title defence against the returning Georges St-Pierre is the money-maker on the night. For St-Pierre, his status as one of the all-time great mixed martial artists is pretty much beyond any doubt at this stage, but in moving up 15lbs to take on the much larger middleweights, he is taking a risk that some might see as uncharacteristic of the man in question.
Bisping’s strengths in this one might not lie in his technical advantages over Georges, but the sheer size difference between the two may well be the edge he needs come fight night.
It’s far more interesting as a contest than many believe it to be, and judging from UFC president Dana White’s rather unenthusiastic job at promoting it at the recent UFC 217 press conference, MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani felt he needed to step up and do a better job.
And boy, did he pull it off.
If you weren’t excited for UFC 217, prepare to be.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena