UFC 217 kicked off with an epic fan fest outside Madison Square Garden, featuring a handful of the top MMA fighters from around the world. The UFC trotted out A-list talent to the "Big Apple" on Nov. 4, positioning stars such as Robbie Lawler, Joseph Benavidez, Chris Weidman and Urijah Faber in sponsor tents to snap selfies with fans and sign autographs. The event worked wonders to build hype for what is anticipated to be one of the biggest pay-per-view spectaculars in company history.
Over 1,000 combat sports aficionados showed up for the fan fest, which also featured the likes of Daniel Cormier and Forrest Griffin. UFC reporter Laura Sanko kicked the show off with a historic purple carpet gathering on the MetroPCS stage, a platform that also saw appearances from legendary announcer Bruce Buffer and pound-for-pound world champion flyweight Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.
The promotion put the fan fest together to generate a buzz for UFC 217 -- the UFC's second show at Madison Square Garden. If that was the goal, consider it mission accomplished. The fans in attendance seemed to enjoy getting up close and personal with their favorite UFC superstars.
While not as stacked as the Conor McGregor-led UFC 205 card that the UFC brought to "The Garden" last November, UFC 217 is loaded with world-class talent. The card, headlined with a title fight pitting Georges St-Pierre against Michael "The Count" Bisping, has a barn-burner of a co-main in T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt. Elsewhere on the bill, "Thug" Rose Namajunas guns for strawweight gold, as she takes on reigning 115-pound champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.