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Champions toppled and disappointment for Duffy on stunning night in New York

This one won’t be forgotten about any time soon.

UFC 217 Mixed Martial Arts TJ Dillashaw celebrates after defeating Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217. Source: Frank Franklin II

THREE BELTS CHANGED hands after a spectacular night of action as the UFC returned to Madison Square Garden.

But on a memorable occasion for the leading organisation in mixed martial arts which drew an attendance of 18,201 to the iconic New York venue, there was disappointment for Ireland’s Joseph Duffy as he was stopped by James Vick in the featured bout on the preliminary portion of the UFC 217 card.

In the main event, former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (26-2) returned from a four-year absence to end the middleweight title reign of Michael Bisping (30-8).

UFC 217 Mixed Martial Arts Georges St-Pierre submits Michael Bisping. Source: Frank Franklin II

At the age of 36, GSP delivered a reminder of why he’s regarded as one of the greatest of all time by becoming just the fourth fighter to hold UFC belts in two separate weight classes, joining BJ Penn, Randy Couture and Conor McGregor on the list.

“This is not really my real weight, you know? I did it for the challenge,” the Canadian, who hasn’t lost since 2007, said after picking up his 13th consecutive victory.

After dropping Bisping in the third round with a left hook, GSP followed up with a barrage of elbows before working towards a rear-naked choke. No tap came from the champion, who went unconscious as referee John McCarthy intervened with 40 seconds left in the round to confirm a victorious return to the octagon for St-Pierre.

“I don’t have a word in my mouth right now,” said GSP, who hadn’t fought since defending the welterweight title against Johny Hendricks in November 2013. “It’s a dream come true. Thank you for the support, it’s my dream come true.”

In a grudge match between former stablemates at Team Alpha Male, Cody Garbrandt’s (11-1) bantamweight title defence fell at the first hurdle when he took on TJ Dillashaw (15-3).

Having been saved by the bell at the end of the opening round after he was put down by Garbrandt’s right hand, the tables turned in the second round when Dillashaw dropped the champion with a counter-combination and pounced to secure a TKO victory. The loss was the first of 26-year-old Garbrandt’s professional career.

After regaining the belt he relinquished to Dominick Cruz in January 2016, Dillashaw paid tribute to Garbrandt and called out reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.

“He [Garbrandt] is a hell of a fighter,” Dillashaw said. “He’s young, he’s going to be back. The kid is tough, he hits hard. You can condition your chin. I got caught with a big right but I bounced right back.”

He added: “Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you. You’ve got that record that’s fake, you dodged me, and I’m coming for that belt and you know it.”

UFC 217 Mixed Martial Arts Rose Namajunas stops Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Source: Frank Franklin II

Another undefeated champion fell as Rose Namajunas (7-3) prevented Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1) from matching Ronda Rousey’s record of six successive title defences for a female UFC champion with a first-round upset.

With just over three minutes on the clock, Namajunas hit the target with a ferocious left hook before finishing the Polish fighter with ground and pound to clinch the strawweight title. Jedrzejczyk tapped due to the strikes but the result goes into the books as a TKO.

“This feels like a movie right now,” said Namajunas, whose first bid for UFC gold ended with a third-round submission defeat to Carla Esparza in a bout for the inaugural 115-pound women’s title in December 2014.

Elsewhere on the main card, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson bounced back from his failure to dethrone welterweight champion Tyron Woodley by scoring a unanimous-decision win over Jorge Masvidal, after former 170-pound title-holder Johny Hendricks was stopped via second-round TKO by Paulo ‘Borrachinha’ Costa.

Joseph Duffy’s professional record went to 17-3 when he suffered his second defeat under the UFC umbrella. After an encouraging first round for the Donegal native, opponent James Vick gradually settled into the contest and Duffy appeared to slow down.

As the end of the second round approached, Duffy was felled by a right uppercut. The American (12-1) swiftly followed up with a flurry of strikes on the ground to snatch the win.

Given the timing of the stoppage — 4:59 — referee Todd Anderson’s decision to intervene in the very final second of the round raised some eyebrows, particularly as Duffy appeared to be attempting to recover guard.

However, there were no complaints from Duffy when he posted on Instagram afterwards: “Congratulations, James Vick. You win some, you lose some, but it won’t stop me, that’s for sure. Thank you all for the support, I’m very lucky to have such great fans.”

Vick, who picked up his eighth win in nine UFC outings, said: “Hat’s off to Duffy, he should be top 15, but he fought me, unlike all those guys in the top 15 who won’t fight me. I’m 8-1 in the UFC and these guys don’t want to fight me. How many 8-1 guys aren’t ranked?”

 

UFC 217 results

  • Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping via technical submission (rear-naked choke) after 4:20 of round three
  • TJ Dillashaw def. Cody Garbrandt via TKO (punches) after 2:41 of round two
  • Rose Namajunas def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via TKO (punches) after 3:03 of round one
  • Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Paulo Costa def. Johny Hendricks via TKO (punches) after 1:23 of round two
  • James Vick def. Joseph Duffy via TKO (punches) after 4:59 of round two
  • Mark Godbeer def. Walt Harris via DQ (illegal head kick) after 4:29 of round two
  • Ovince Saint Preux def. Corey Anderson via KO (head kick) after 1:25 of round three
  • Randy Brown def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
  • Curtis Blaydes def. Oleksiy Oliynyk via TKO (doctor stoppage) after 1:56 of round two
  • Ricardo Ramos def. Aiemann Zahabi via (spinning back elbow) after 1:58 of round three

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