Grudge match! It’s time for the UFC to return to the world of Pay Per View with UFC 158 live from La Belle Province as Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre makes yet another title defense in front of his hometown crowd. This fight has been a long time in the making and has taken some serious twists and turns to get here, but this Saturday night fans will finally see Nick Diaz take on GSP for the UFC Welterweight title.
The two were originally scheduled to headline UFC 137, but after Diaz no-showed some media obligations he was pulled from the bout and instead faced BJ Penn whom he defeated. With GSP injured and off for a significant amount of time, Diaz faced Carlos Condit for the Interim Welterweight Championship Title and lost what some people are still calling a controversial decision. After the fight he failed his post-fight drug test for marijuana metabolites (he’s a medicinal user in California, his home state) and was subsequently suspended for the rest of 2012. Apparently, he’s done enough to spark the champion’s anger enough that he’s getting a title shot coming off of a loss anyways.
The rest of the main card features a number of top Welterweight contenders and will likely help to establish the pecking order for the rest of the 170-pound division. In the co-main event former Interim Champion Carlos Condit takes on surging contender Johny Hendricks. Hard-hitting Jake Ellenberger also takes on former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt in Welterweight action. Two runner-ups from differing seasons of The Ultimate Fighter collide in Lightweight action as Mike Ricci fights Colin Fletcher. Middleweight action rounds out the main card as Canadian Nick Ring takes on Chris Camozzi.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: George Roop vs. Reuben Duran
George Roop is a 31-year-old fighter from Tucson, Arizona. He was a cast member on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, who now trains at the Apex MMA Gym in Arizona. He holds a professional record of 12-9-1. Reuben “Hurricane” Duran is a 29-year-old from Chula Vista, California. He is a member of the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu and MMA Gym in Redlands, California. He holds a career record of 8-4-1.
Quick Pick: Reuben Duran via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: T.J. Dilashaw vs. Issei Tamura
T.J. “The Viper” Dilashaw is a 27-year-old fighter from Sonora, California. Dilashaw is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who is now a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. Dilashaw holds a professional record of 6-1. Issei Tamura is a 28-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Tamura is a former member of the Shooto organization who trains with the Krazy Bee Dojo in Tokyo. He holds a career record of 7-3.
Quick Pick: T.J. Dilashaw via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Rick Story vs. Quinn Mulhern
Rick “The Horror” Story is a 28-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym training in Vancouver, Washington. The former collegiate wrestler from Southern Oregon University holds a career record of 14-6. Quinn “Campamocha” Mulhern is a 28-year-old fighter from Santa Cruz, California. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and trains with the Sante Fe BJJ Team in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 18-2.
Quick Pick: Rick Story via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: John Makdessi vs. Daron Cruickshank
John “The Bull” Makdessi is a 27-year-old fighter from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He holds black belts in Tae Kwon Do as well as Shotokan karate. He is a member of the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He holds a professional MMA record 10-2. Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank is a 27-year-old fighter from Westland, Michigan. He is a former NCAA Division 3 Wrestler who also holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. He is a member of the MASH Fight Team who holds a 12-2 pro record.
Quick Pick: Daron Cruickshank via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Dan Miller vs. Jordan Mein
Dan Miller is a 31-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains with his brother and fellow UFC fighter Jim Miller at the AMA Fight Club in Whippany, New Jersey. He holds a career record of 14-6 with 1 No Contest. Jordan “Young Gun” Mein is a 23-year-old fighter from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He is a member of the Canadian Martial Arts Centre in Lethbridge. He holds a professional record of 26-8.
Quick Pick: Jordan Mein via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Antonio Carvalho vs. Darren Elkins
Antonio “Pato” Carvalho is a 33-year-old fighter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Carvalho trains at the Abe Ani Combat Club in Oshawa, Ontario who has a background in several martial arts including BJJ, Judo and Shotokan Karate. He holds a career record of 15-5. Darren “The Damage” Elkins is a 28-year-old-fighter from Hobart, Indiana. He is a member of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in his hometown. He holds a career record of 15-2 and is 4-0 in the UFC’s Featherweight Division.
Quick Pick: Darren Elkins via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker
Patrick “The Predator” Cote is a 33-year-old fighter from Rimouski, Quebec, Canada. He is a former Middleweight title challenger who will be making his Welterweight debut in this bout. He is a member of the Tristar Gym but also spends time with Team Sityodong in Boston. He holds a professional MMA record of 18-8. “Vicious” Bobby Voelker is a 33-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Kansas. He is a member of Finney’s MMA Gym in Missouri. He holds a career record of 24-8.
Quick Pick: Bobby Voelker via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher
Mike “The Martian” Ricci is a 26-year-old fighter from Montreal, Quebec. Ricci was a cast member on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter where he was the runner-up in the Welterweight division, fighting 15 pounds above his more natural weight class. Ricci is a talented striker, but struggled against the wrestling heavy attack of Colton Smith in the TUF finale bout. Ricci is a southpaw striker with big power in his hands, he is also a decent grappler on the mat from top control, but struggles from the bottom. He holds a career record of 7-3.
Colin “The Freakshow” Fletcher is a 30-year-old fighter from Sunderland, United Kingdom. Fletcher is known for his ring entrances that feature him dressed as a clown. Fletcher has fought for a number of major promotions including Total Combat and BAMMA. Fletcher was the runner up of the Lightweight portion of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes (UK vs. Australia.) Fletcher is a talented grappler who is tall and lengthy for a Lightweight fighter at 6’2”. He is a member of the FightPit MMA Academy in England. He holds a career record of 8-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Ricci proved during his season of The Ultimate Fighter that he can deal with strikers and fighters who are taller than him, which means he’s prepared to handle most of the problems that Fletcher can bring. Ricci struggled against the wrestling based onslaught of Colton Smith at the finale, but Fletcher doesn’t have the wrestling skills to grind against Ricci. I expect a strong performance in front of his hometown crowd from Ricci as he picks Fletcher apart from a distance before landing a big punch that begins the end for Fletcher. Mike Ricci via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Ring
Chris Camozzi is a 26-year-old fighter from Alameda, California. Camozzi was a cast member on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Camozzi holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a tough and well-rounded fighter. He trains with the Factory X Muay Thai Gym in Lakewood, Colorado. Camozzi is a tough striker who constantly moves forward in his bouts. Camozzi prefers to stand and trade in his fights and does his best work at length as his Muay Thai skills have continued to improve throughout the years. He will have a slight reach advantage in this fight. Camozzi holds a career record of 18-5, but has never been stopped from strikes in his career.
Nick “The Promise” Ring is a 34-year-old fighter from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ring is a cast member from the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter who now trains with the Tristar Gym in Montreal. Ring is a former professional boxer and kick boxer who holds a black belt in Muay Thai and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a tough and well-rounded fighter who has shown a knack for winning close decisions in somewhat controversial fashion. Ring holds a professional MMA record of 13-1, with his lone loss coming against Tim Boetsch.
Analysis and Prediction: Camozzi has been improving readily, but Ring should be able to handle most of what he throws at him. Ring is a talented striker who’s kickboxing is more than likely going to be more technically sound than Camozzi’s. Add in to that, Ring is the better grappler and has better takedowns and more of a willingness to shoot for those takedowns that he can keep Camozzi guessing. I don’t think it will be a cakewalk, but Ring should be able to take a decision. Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt
Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger is a 27-year-old fighter from Omaha, Nebraska. Ellenberger is a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler who wrestler for the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Ellenberger trains at the Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, California. In addition to his wrestling background, Ellenberger has continued to improve his striking skills and possesses big time knockout power in his hands. Ellenberger has also added a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Ellenberger holds a professional record of 28-6 with 22 victories via stoppage.
Nate “The Great” Marquardt is a 33-year-old fighter from Lander, Wyoming. He is a former Middleweight title challenger and a former Pancrase Middleweight Champion. Marquardt is returning to the UFC since leaving and joining Strikeforce, where he dropped to Welterweight, won the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship and then lost the title. Marquardt is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is also a 2nd degree black belt in Pancrase Pankration. He is a member of the Grudge Training Center in Denver, Colorado but also splits his time with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Marquardt has a career record of 32-11-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Ellenberger should be studying the tape of Marquardt versus Tarec Saffiedine at the final Strikeforce show. Marquardt was picked apart on the feet, mainly because of thudding leg kicks that he was unable to adapt to. Ellenberger hasn’t really shown himself to be a kicking machine, but a strategy that employs a steady dosage of kicks would be a good idea. Ellenberger is the more talented wrestler and packs a big punch. Marquardt is tough and could make it very difficult for Ellenberger, as Marquardt was able to dominate Tyron Woodley in their Strikeforce fight. Overall, a steady stream of leg kicks, heavy punches and well-timed takedowns carry Ellenberger to a decision win. Jake Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks
Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit is a 28-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Condit is a tough, well-rounded fighter who was the longtime WEC Welterweight Champion and was also the UFC Interim Welterweight Champion before losing his last title unification bout against GSP. Condit was originally scheduled to have a rematch against Rory MacDonald, but MacDonald was forced to withdraw due to injury. Condit is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in his hometown, where he holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Condit is a talented kick boxer with a strong chin and is fairly unorthodox. He’s also a talented grappler with excellent submissions from top control. He holds a career record of 28-6.
Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks is a 29-year-old fighter from Ada, Oklahoma. Hendricks is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Hendricks despite his impressive wrestling credentials has continued to improve his striking and has big power in his hands and has scored emphatic knockout victories over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann. Despite impressive stoppages over those two, he has struggled against fighters who can prevent him from outwrestling them. Hendricks trains with Team Takedown in Dallas, Texas along with other wrestling based fighters like Shane Roller and Jake Rosholt. Hendricks holds a career record of 14-1, with the lone loss coming to Rick Story and he is currently riding a 5-fight winning streak.
Analysis and Prediction: Hendricks has fared well against fighters that he can knockout within the first minute, but he’s struggled in his other bouts. Condit is the more technically proficient striker of the two, albeit he packs a significantly less concussive pop in his punches. Hendricks should definitely be trying to take Condit down more often, but I think his recent successes could carry him to poor game planning. If he’s not willing to take Condit down, he will definitely struggle and likely get picked apart from the outside. When he does shoot in against Condit, he’ll have to be careful, as Condit is a talented grappler who is very crafty and very aggressive from his back and as he sprawls. It’s definitely a close fight, but I think that if Condit isn’t out cold within the first two minutes or so, then Condit is likely going to take a decision. Carlos Condit via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Welterweight Championship Bout: Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is a 31-year-old fighter from Saint-Isidore, Quebec, Canada. He is a member of the Tristar Gym training in Montreal, Quebec. GSP is the reigning and defending UFC Welterweight Champion and is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. St. Pierre holds black belts in Kyokushin Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Shidokan Karate and Gaidojutsu. St. Pierre is a dominating wrestler who has an incredible double leg takedown and smothering top control game. He is also an accomplished boxer who trains boxing with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. GSP holds a career record of 23-2 and has since dominated both of the fighters to ever score a victory over him.
Nick Diaz is a 29-year-old fighter from Stockton, California. Diaz has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career including Shooto, WEC, Pride, Elite XC, Dream, Strikeforce and the UFC. Diaz is a former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion who vacated the title when he returned to the UFC in 2011. Diaz is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie. Diaz is a member of the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team in Stockton, California training with brother Nate Diaz as well as Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez. Despite his impressive grappling skills, he is also well known for his unique striking style. Diaz has a strong chin and is often willing to take one punch to dish out a few of his own. Diaz holds a professional MMA record of 26-8 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: I’ve never hidden my dislike for GSP and I’m a fan of Diaz’s style, although I like many people find his antics at times slightly annoying. I really would like nothing more than to see Diaz rock GSP with a couple of big punches that eventually lead to a knockout and a new champion, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen. Truth be told this is a pretty terrible match up for Diaz. He’s never been strong against wrestlers and Benson Henderson laid out a pretty solid game plan to beat the Diaz style, so too did Condit. I have a hard time believing that a fighter as well coached and levelheaded as GSP is going to ignore those signs and choose to engage in a brawl that swings the edge to Diaz.
There are definitely a lot of factors that could come into play, the question will simply be how many of them actually do. Diaz’s boxing style is tough to emulate and is often successful if fighters allow him the space and momentum to get going, GSP will need to avoid that. Diaz is a crafty and dangerous submission artist who is aggressive from his back, so even if he earns a takedown, GSP will need to be careful as he looks to draw guard. The biggest thing for GSP is going to be the need to keep a level head. He’s a better fighter than Diaz, there’s no real denying it, but that won’t make him a winner.
If there’s anything that this week has proven, it’s that Diaz can get inside GSP’s head. Despite the calm talk from the champion, Diaz has had him rattled both during the conference call and press conference. If he can get the champion that fired up during the fight and lure him into a brawl, he definitely makes the fight more interesting and much more even. It’s just whether or not he can get GSP to play his game. I think the more likely scenario is that GSP uses a steady stream of jabs and takedowns to control Diaz for nearly the full 25 minutes. I don’t buy the hype that GSP really wants to earn the finish hear, frankly we’ve all heard it before and Diaz is especially tough to finish, so I expect a pretty dominant decision from the champion. Although I really hope he gets rocked by a big Diaz punch and goes to sleep. Georges St. Pierre via Unanimous Decision
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