Will Cody Garbrandt be fighting at UFC 217?
Word surfaced last week that Garbrandt was eyeing a return to the Octagon, with the bantamweight champion having Nov. 4 circled on his calendar. That’s the date the UFC makes its return to Madison Square Garden in New York City, hosting what will likely be a second mega-event in the Big Apple in as many years.
Garbrandt would presumably be fighting top contender and heated rival T.J. Dillashaw, looking to defend the bantamweight crown for the first time since becoming champion last December with a stunningly dominant win over then-king Dominick Cruz. Garbrandt and Dillashaw were expected to meet inside the cage this July, only before the champion was forced to the sidelines with a nagging back injury.
Though not necessarily a blockbuster fight that the casual audiences would be dying to see, adding Garbrandt and Dillashaw to what may be a big card can only elevate the young champion’s status.
There are only two other fights rumored for the MSG card, both of which will demand a bit of attention on their own. Michael Bisping has announced he’ll be facing returning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, as the former looks to defend his middleweight title. The card is also rumored to feature a strawweight showdown between unblemished champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and fan favorite Rose Namajunas.
Adding Garbrandt and Dillashaw would bring the championship fight total to three, which is essentially the floor the UFC’s created for all of its biggest annual cards over the years.
Who’s next for Tyron Woodley?
An argument could be made that an injury to Woodley was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Admittedly fearful that he tore the labrum in his right shoulder mid-fight against Demian Maia at UFC 214, the reigning UFC welterweight champion will be out for at least the next 180 days due to a medical suspension enacted by the California State Athletic Commission.
There’s nothing to be lost for Woodley at this point, who was removed from a potential showdown with St-Pierre by Dana White after his less-than-thrilling performance against Maia. He’ll now have time to mend on the sidelines while the division begins to sort itself out.
Because it desperately needs to.
Woodley has now defeated Stephen Thompson (No. 1 welterweight contender), Robbie Lawler (No. 2) and Maia (No. 3). Venturing into the history books before Woodley won the belt, he’s also already defeated the man sitting at No. 5 in Carlos Condit. The division’s fourth-ranked contender, Jorge Masvidal, is also coming off of a loss in his last bout. Not a single one of those five elite contenders is deserving of another title shot just yet, leaving Woodley without a logical dance partner for the time being.
Will you try and lure Anthony Johnson back into the cage?
Johnson has recently gone on record to state that he would consider making a comeback to the Octagon for a showdown with Jon Jones for the right price. That came just a few days after Jones defeated Cormier at UFC 214 for the second time in three years.
Jones and Johnson were previously slated to meet at UFC 187 in 2015, a time when “Rumble” had yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon at 205 pounds. Johnson still wound up fighting that night, though not against Jones. The champion was pulled from the fight after his involvement in a hit-and-run accident just one month prior, paving the way for Cormier to fight Johnson for the vacant title. Cormier won that night, dismantling the previously indestructible 205-pound version of “Rumble.”
Johnson made his way back up the ladder in two years’ time, signing a contract to fight Cormier for the belt after crushing the three top contenders with blistering knockouts in the time that followed his first championship loss. He lost that time, too, going 0-2 against “D.C.”
The second loss prompted Johnson to announce his abrupt retirement from the sport, forcing the MMA world to accept the idea that an eventual matchup with Jones would never come to fruition.
Or so we thought.
That would obviously require the UFC to, A) fork over a dollar amount Johnson deems necessary, and B) allow Johnson — who is coming off of a loss — to skip past two more deserving contenders in the division. The UFC has historically had little issue in dealing with B, but A is a different story.