Another weekend gone by and with it another UFC Pay Per View is in the books. UFC 158 rocked the PPV airwaves and likely did excellent numbers for the UFC as it was headlined by one of the most anticipated fights of the past couple of years as Welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre breezed through his title defense against Nick Diaz. Although it’s too early to discuss the potential number of PPV buys UFC 158 did, it is likely going to be deemed a huge success for the UFC. What we don’t have to speculate about is the live gate, as the Canadian fans proved that once again the sport of MMA is loved in Montreal. The Bell Centre reported an attendance figure over 20,145 all contributing to a $3.7 million live gate.
Although those people that initially shelled out $60 for the Pay Per View were likely frustrated and disappointed with their purchase after the first two main card bouts, the three Welterweight fights that closed the show certainly delivered. Jake Ellenberger continued his climb towards the top of the Welterweight division with an impressive Knockout of the Night award winning performance against the always-tough Nate Marquardt. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks engaged in an absolute war that is my candidate for Fight of the Year so far, in a number one contender’s bout. And to cap off the night GSP dominated Nick Diaz for most of their 25-minute affair all the while his hometown fans chanted obscenities at Diaz and cheered their local hero.
Lightweight Bout: Mike Ricci defeated Colin Fletcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
What’s next for Ricci? Despite the win, Ricci wasn’t overly impressive. He was definitely dominant, but he was never really close to finishing the fight and the bout was slow paced. He’ll need to step up his game if he wants to make it far in the Lightweight division, but it’s going to have to be baby steps for him. Fellow TUF veterans Francisco Trinaldo and Mike Rio are competing in May in Brazil, the winner of that fight could be a good test for Ricci.
What’s next for Fletcher? Unemployment probably. He’s looked fairly unimpressive in his two UFC bouts so far, so he deserves to be cut. But he is British and he does have a big personality and the UFC might decide to keep him around for their European cards. Feed him to someone like Paul Sass or Daron Cruickshank on a free car in Europe and let him get someone’s career back on track before he goes.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi defeated Nick Ring via Split Decision after Three Rounds
For three rounds Nick Ring kept his hands down, danced around the outside and tried to use his speed advantage to pick apart his opponent. If you listened to the commentary from Rogan and Goldberg, you’d believe that he did it as well, but the judges thought differently. Camozzi was rewarded for moving forward, despite taking a few shots on the way in, but he did manage to land some punches of his own, especially in the second and third rounds as Ring began to slow. Despite the close Split Decision neither fighter really impressed in this one, but Camozzi does get the W.
What’s next for Camozzi? Many people have already called for this one, but I’m inclined to agree with the mainstream media on this, Camozzi should fight Brad Tavares. Both Middleweights have been impressive since their runs on The Ultimate Fighter and they are both ready to try and break out of the middle-tier of fighters in the Middleweight division. They both just got big wins, they’re both TUF veterans, no reason not to match them up.
What’s next for Ring? He hasn’t lived up to all of the potential people thought that he had after his shortened season on The Ultimate Fighter. Despite what many people thought was a rather lackluster fight, Dana White seemed impressed with this one on Twitter and gave both Ring and Camozzi ‘Much respect’ on his Twitter, so I guess he’s not likely to be cut. Despite the props from the boss, he’s still going to drop down the rankings. Bouts with Daniel Sarafian from TUF: Brazil or Japan’s Riki Fukuda would make sense.
Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger defeated Nate Marquardt via Knock Out (Punches) at 3:00 of Round One
Marquardt and Ellenberger took the center of the cage quickly, but it was Marquardt who got the first edge as he chopped away at Ellenberger with leg kicks. Marquardt managed to use those kicks to set up a few nice combinations and scored with a few of them. Nearly midway through the round Ellenberger countered a kick and landed a combination that dropped Marquardt to his knees against the cage. Ellenberger swarmed his hurt opponent with follow up punches, including a huge right hand that dropped Marquardt face first into the mat unconscious as the referee stepped in to stop the bout in the opening round.
What’s next for Ellenberger? That was definitely a statement fight as he completely thrashed a very tough and durable Nate Marquardt (in face Anderson Silva is the only other fighter to stop Marquardt via strikes.) He deserves a top contender and there is definitely plenty of choices at Welterweight. Top contenders like Rory MacDonald or Demian Maia would make sense. But I think the best choice might be a top contenders bout against the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec Saffiedine.
What’s next for Marquardt? He probably fell out of the top 10 with the knockout loss, but he’s still a tough fighter who will allow the UFC to gauge the talent of up-and-comers and middle of the pack Welterweights who they think might be ready for a step-up in competition. A bout with Siyar Bahadurzada could be interesting if they agree to fight for the rights to use the nickname ‘The Great.’ Also intriguing could be a bout against Stephen Thompson.
Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
I will spoil nothing of this fight, because you simply should go and watch all fifteen minutes of it. Back and forth striking action, big takedowns, slams, suplexes, flying knees, head kicks, huge bombs, this fight had everything that a good MMA contest should have. It’s just a shame these two didn’t have two more rounds to keep scrapping.
What’s next for Hendricks? At the end of the day, Hendricks won this bout and gets his shot against GSP. He apparently broke his hand in this fight, so he might need some time off to heal, but he’s getting a shot at the championship and he deserves it.
What’s next for Condit? He’s going to be employed for life. Knowing he would probably need a finish, he went out and threw everything he had at Hendricks in that final frame trying to steal the fight back. He’s lost two straight, but they were to the champion and number one contender so there’s not a lot of shame in that. At the top of the division there’s only a lot of rematches and only the Diaz one makes sense. I’d rather see him take a slight step back in competition and have some exciting bouts to get him back on track. Bouts with BJ Penn, Amir Sadollah or Mike Swick could prove to be exciting slugfests and could probably get Condit back on the winning track.
Welterweight Championship Bout: Georges St. Pierre defeated Nick Diaz via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds
GSP gonna GSP, that’s about all there is to say about this fight. It definitely wasn’t ‘the worst beating the octagon has ever seen’ like he claimed it would be, but it was fairly one-sided. Georges stood with Diaz more often than I thought he would and although he struggled at times, he handled himself fairly well in the stand up and didn’t allow Diaz to get into any kind of a rhythm at all. On the ground it was complete and utter positional domination. Diaz had a number of tricks that he tried, but no matter what he did rolling for knee bars, scrambling to the bottom, giving up his back to try and create space for scrambles, none of it worked. GSP controlled the action on the mat every time it went there. This fight wasn’t without some notes though, as GSP looked decidedly more fatigued by the end of this fight, than I have seen him in previous fights. By midway in the third round, GSP was beginning to glance up at the clock and looked to be slowing down. In fact it showed in his performance as several of his takedowns in the final two rounds were stuffed by Diaz, something that wasn’t even close to happening during the opening two rounds.
What’s next for Diaz? In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan he teased retirement, but by the time the press conference came around he was asking for a rematch and offering to fight Anderson Silva, so it’s hard to say what’s on Diaz’s mind. If he passes the post-fight drug test and decides that he still wants to fight, there are a number on interesting bouts in the 170-pound division for Diaz. Diaz isn’t getting back in for another shot at GSP any time soon, so you might as well give him decent match ups against guys who will brawl with him and try to use him basically as entertainment value. Bouts against primarily strikers would be in the UFC’s best interest if they pursue that option. Martin Kampmann expressed interest in fighting Diaz and that’s a fight I’d like to see. The loser of the upcoming Dan Hardy vs. Matt Brown fight at UFC on FOX could also be an excellent choice for a brawl.