The long wait is over. Ultimate Fighting Championship’s best card of the year, UFC 217, has finally arrived. MMA fans will be treated tonight to not just one, but three top-flight title fights to be contested at the Mecca of combat sports, New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
JEDRZEJCZYK VS NAMAJUNAS
In the card’s first title fight, dominant strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk readies for her next challenge in the form of unflappable former title challenger Rose Namajunas.
GARBRANDT VS DILLASHAW
In the card’s second title fight, bitter rivals and onetime teammates Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw will at last clash for the belt that Garbrandt now holds and that Dillashaw once wore.
BISPING VS ST-PIERRE
In the featured bout of the evening, the UK’s own world middleweight champion Michael Bisping will take on returning legend Georges St-Pierre.
The behind the scenes scoop on each fight can be enjoyed with UFC’s Embedded blog series which chronicles the week leading up to the fight…
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 1
On Episode 1 of UFC 217 Embedded, Bisping spars in the gym, then heads home to critique his opponent’s acting chops. St-Pierre prepares for his middleweight debut under legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach.
Garbrandt has a send-off dinner at UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber’s house, alongside fellow Team Alpha Male athletes including Andre Fili, Clay Guida and Sage Northcutt. Dillashaw also celebrates alongside friends and family in advance of his journey to reclaim the bantamweight title.
Namajunas judges a kids’ Halloween costume contest at the gym, and her energized opponent Jedrzejczyk fine-tunes her game for what could be a historic sixth-straight title defense.
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 2
On Episode 2 of UFC 217 Embedded, Garbrandt touches down in New York and begins a shopping spree. Dillashaw is joined by head coach Duane Ludwig at his California home.
Jedrzejczyk and challenger Namajunas both put in tough training sessions with their respective teams.
Bisping gets his heart rate by running on the treadmill and talking about his career, while St-Pierre, at home in Quebec, packs for the trip to New York City and a momentous Octagon return.
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 3
On Episode 3 of UFC 217 Embedded, the UFC champions visit New York City landmarks as Jedrzejczyk, a devout Catholic, ventures to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Garbrandt heads to Renzo Gracie Academy.
Dillashaw continues his training camp in California and gets polished up for the trip to recapture the belt he once held. Meanwhile Bisping gets dubious coaching advice from autograph seekers, and opponent Georges St-Pierre trains both above water and below.
Welterweight Jorge Masvidal, in town to take on Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, first takes in a New York Knicks game at MSG.
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 4
On Episode 4 of UFC 217 Embedded, St-Pierre and Bisping continue their war of words at an ESPN media day leading up to their bout, while Jedrzejczyk attempts to settle a case of canine sibling rivalry.
Garbrandt and rival Dillashaw are fitted for all manner of equipment, from custom watches to Legacy Series walkout shirts to mouthguards.
Back at the host hotel, a playful St-Pierre manipulates the scales and tests his skills at American football, while welterweight Jorge Masvidal is all business.
Namajunas makes her way to New York City with both two and four-legged training partners, and welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson watches a Rangers game inside Madison Square Garden.
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 5
On Episode 5 of UFC 217 Embedded, Wonderboy enjoys Halloween night in Times Square. Dillashaw trains to recapture his title, while Jedrzejczyk trains to keep hers.
St-Pierre meets with legendary coaches Firas Zahabi, Freddie Roach and Renzo Gracie. Bisping is good-naturedly trash-talked by his son, then has a less humorous interaction with welterweight Jorge Masvidal.
Champions and title challengers mingle before the pre-fight press conference, then have heated exchanges and menacing staredowns on stage.
UFC EMBEDDED: EPISODE 6
On Episode 6 of UFC 217 Embedded, Bisping and challenger St-Pierre continue to trade barbs after their press conference. Garbrandt joins retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant and UFC President Dana White for a BodyArmor sports drink event.
Dillashaw and Namajunas react to their opponents’ behavior on stage. Jedrzejczyk, Dillashaw, Garbrandt and St-Pierre make their final weight cuts on Thursday evening. At Friday morning’s official weigh-ins, everyone hits their targets, and Masvidal again exchanges words with the hot-tempered middleweight champ.