The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s second trip to Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 4 exceeded expectations, producing the greatest and certainly the most historic MMA event so far in 2017. It produced a trio of new UFC champions, with all three title changes coming in riveting fashion and resulting in a triumvirate of new No. 1s in the official Sherdog.com rankings. However, one of our new divisional rulers was not in action at MSG, and his initials are not GSP.
Undoubtedly, Georges St. Pierre returning to the Octagon and taking the UFC middleweight title from Michael Bisping was thrilling and iconic, strengthening the Canadian’s case to be considered the greatest fighter to ever put on four-ounce gloves. At the same time, it was St. Pierre’s first middleweight win -- ever. Robert Whittaker? He is 7-0 over the last three years, even if he is the UFC’s “interim” middleweight champion. With wins over the likes of Yoel Romero, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Derek Brunson, it is a no-brainer that “The Reaper” takes our No. 1 spot at 185 pounds, with St. Pierre seated just behind him. Bisping’s defeat sees him drop to third on our list, while GSP’s addition edges the previously 10th-ranked Brunson to our contenders list. Whether or not we ever see that UFC middleweight crown get unified between Whittaker and GSP is another story.
Other UFC 217 outcomes have had the expected impact on our rankings. T.J. Dillashaw’s second-round knockout of former Team Alpha Male training partner Cody Garbrandt has given him his second UFC bantamweight title and sees him rise from third to the No. 1 spot at 135 pounds. Meanwhile, Rose Namajunas’ first-round knockout of pound-for-pound queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk not only gave her the UFC women’s strawweight crown but leaves her as the odds-on favorite to take unanimous “Upset of the Year” honors and makes her the top 115-pound woman in the world. Also, former two-time UFC title challenger Stephen Thompson returned to the cage at UFC 217 with no championship in play, and “Wonderboy” impressively reaffirmed his spot as the No. 3 welterweight, dominating previously eighth-ranked Jorge Masvidal, who falls to our bubble list in the ultra-competitive 170-pound division.
This update is not all about UFC 217, though. A night prior at Bellator 186 in University Park, Pennsylvania, undefeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane took a second win over Emily Ducote and, more importantly, the inaugural Bellator MMA women’s flyweight title. Now 7-0 in her short pro career, “The Iliminator” vaults from No. 7 to our top five at 125 pounds with her fifth-round submission of Ducote.
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