The UFC makes it’s long awaited return to La Belle Province this weekend as it also makes its return to the airwaves of Pay Per View. Live from the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada the UFC brings UFC 154 live this Saturday night. Featuring the return of UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre defending his title against Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, this card should bring tons of excitement. And with the potential of Anderson Silva being in the building, possibly or possibly not to call out St. Pierre after the bout, this Saturday should hold a lot of intrigue for a number of fight fans.
As usual the UFC has loaded a lot of the preliminary card with local Canadian grown talent and although this card has been criticized for lacking big name value outside of the main event there are a number of bouts that should offer sufficient fireworks for fight fans. In the co-main event of the evening Martin Kampmann will take on Johny Hendricks in a bout that could easily determine the next contender for the UFC Welterweight title. In other main card action Canadian Featherweight fighter Mark Hominick tries to get back on track against Pablo Garza. In Middleweight action Nick Ring takes on Costa Philippou in a bout that could turn into a slugfest quickly. The other main card bout features GSP’s training partner Francis Carmont taking on the always-entertaining Tom Lawlor.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Steven Siler vs. Darren Elkins
Steven “The Miller Killer” Siler is an American fighter from Anaheim, California. He was a cast member on the final season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV as a member of Team Mayhem Miller. Siler is a member of the Pit Elevated Fight Team, training out of Orem, Utah. At 5’11” with a 70-inch reach Siler is one of the taller fighters in the Featherweight division and he has improved at fighting well at a range, using his height to pepper his opponents from the outside. On the ground he is a talented grappler with strong submissions. Siler holds a career record of 21-9, but has won 16 of his last 18, finishing 15 of those 16 opponents.
Analysis and Prediction: Siler is tall for the division, somewhat lanky and very aggressive on the ground. He’s highly underrated as a grappler and is dangerous in both the striking realm and off of his back. Elkins is a talented wrestler who is durable and tough as he showcased in his bout against Diego Brandao. But still he’s fairly one-dimensional and probably would have lost if Brandao didn’t gas as badly as he did. Siler just fought a talented wrestler in Joey Gambino and Gambino had nothing for him, Elkins is a better fighter, but his style doesn’t match up well against Siler. Steven Siler via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Ivan Menjivar vs. Azamat Gashimov
Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar is a Canadian fighter who was born in El Salvador. The 30-year-old is a veteran of MMA, making his professional debut in January of 2001. Menjivar is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who now trains at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. Menjivar is a tough fighter who has not been stopped since an early career bout in 2002. Menjivar is a well-rounded fighter and will be fighting on his home court, he may be tough to beat. Menjivar holds a career record of 24-9.
Azamat “Tough Guy” Gashimov is a Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. Gashimov has recently moved stateside and is training out of Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico, but has also spent time at the American Kickboxing Academy in Fairfield, New Jersey. Gashimov will be making his UFC debut and it will also be his first bout outside of Russia or the Ukraine. Gashimov has a pro record of 7-1, but it has been against less than stellar competition.
Analysis and Prediction: Basically, Gashimov breaks all of my rules for predicting fighters to win. He’s a sizeable underdog, he’s making his UFC debut, it’s his first fight in North America and he’s basically fought nobody of note. He’s got a background in Combat Sambo, which has proven to be an excellent starting ground for MMA, but he’s overmatched here in almost any way I can think of. Depending on how tough he is, he might make round three, but I can’t imagine he wins. Ivan Menjivar via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Matthew Riddle vs. John Maguire
Matthew “Deep Waters” Riddle is an American fighter from Allentown, Pennsylvania. The 26-year-old is a wrestler who made his debut on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. He holds the rare feat of having all of his professional bouts inside the UFC’s octagon. Although he is a talented wrestler with good top control, Riddle sometimes favors the striking game where he is oftentimes at a disadvantage. Riddle is a member of the Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 6-1 with 1 No Contest.
John “The One” Maguire is an English fighter from Peterborough, England. The 29-year-old is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Maguire is a submission specialist who has won 10 of his 18 career bouts via submission. At 5’9” Maguire will be at a somewhat significant size disadvantage come fight night. Maguire is a member of the Tsunami Gym in Cambridge, England. Maguire has fought for a number of major European MMA promotions including Ultimate Challenge MMA, Cage Rage and BAMMA. He holds a career record of 18-4.
Prediction and Analysis: Maguire is a talented grappler, but he was most recently dispatched by John Hathaway. Riddle is a more talented wrestler than Hathaway and is massive for a Welterweight fighter. He’s been prone to stupidity and getting into brawls in the past, but against Maguire he actually might be the better striker and I don’t think Maguire can submit him from the bottom. Riddle takes a decision. Matt Riddle via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Antonio Carvalho vs. Rodrigo Damm
Antonio “Pato” Carvalho is a Canadian fighter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The 33-year-old has been competing in MMA since 2002 and has competed for a number of promotions like Shooto, TKO, MFC and Warrior-1 MMA. Carvalho has been training in martial arts for a number of years and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Shotokan Karate and a green belt in Judo. He is a member of the Brazilian Top Team Canada and Abe Ani Combat Club training out of Oshawa, Ontario. He holds a career record of 14-5.
Rodrigo Damm is a 32-year-old Brazilian fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. He has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career including World Victory Road, Jungle Fight, BODOG Fight, Shooto and Strikeforce. He made his UFC debut by appearing on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Like many Brazilian fighters he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and does his best work in the grappling department. He is a member of the Alliance Jiu Jitsu team training out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He holds a career record of 10-5.
Prediction and Analysis: Damm has been around the block when it comes to big fight experience, but Carvalho is no slouch either. Damm is a talented grappler and a decent striker, but he’s not physically imposing and he’s not really an excellent wrestler. Carvalho isn’t a great grappler, but his striking is lights out and he is able to counter really effectively. If Damm can keep spamming takedowns than Carvalho might not be able to stay off of his back. But the more likely scenario is that he eats a couple of punches coming in and gets rocked. Antonio Carvalho via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout vs. John Makdessi
Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout is a Canadian fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. The 28-year-old is a former student of the late Shawn Tompkins, training out of the Team Tompkins Gym in his hometown of London, Ontario. Stout is a talented striker who is a former professional kick boxer, he is also known for having a very strong chin, as he has never been knocked out in his MMA career. In his last fight he showed off a new wrinkle in his game by using takedowns and top control to outwork Spencer Fisher. Stout holds a career record of 18-7-1.
John “The Bull” Makdessi is a 27-year-old Canadian fighter from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a kickboxing and karate based fighter who does his best work in the striking realm. Makdessi is a member of the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec but also trains at his own facility at the Team Bull Gym in Laval, Quebec. Makdessi owns a black belt in Shotokan Karate and has a background in Tae Kwan Do as well. Despite being a talented striker he has struggled in the past by being far too passive, looking to counter instead of pressuring his opponents. He holds a career record of 9-2.
Prediction and Analysis: Makdessi has had two major weaknesses in his career so far; tentativeness and his ground game. Stout despite his nickname might not have the most power in his punches, but he’s a solid kick boxer who can put combinations together well and pressure opponents. He’s also shown an ability to use his wrestling effectively, as he did in his bout against Spencer Fisher. If Stout comes in with a smart game plan, there’s no reason he doesn’t take a decision victory. Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Mark Bocek vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Mark Bocek is a Canadian fighter from Toronto, Ontario. Bocek is a talented grappler who is known as one of the top grapplers from Canada. Bocek is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also holds a black belt in Kempo Bocek is an enormous talent on the mat, but his striking skills are not as far along as his ground skills and he has struggled in the past against strikers who are able to fend off his takedowns. Bocek is a Jiu Jitsu coach at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. He holds a career record of 11-4.
Rafael dos Anjos is a Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dos Anjos is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, who has also made great strides in improving his striking skills. He has improved Muay Thai skills and possesses big power in his hands. In his last bout he showcased his improved striking skills as he outworked talented kick boxer Anthony Njokuani for a Unanimous Decision victory. Dos Anjos is a member of the Evolve MMA Gym in Brazil and Singapore. He holds a career record of 17-6.
Prediction and Analysis: Bocek is a talented grappler, but his offensive wrestling skills aren’t the greatest. He gets takedowns more so through technique than raw strength. His striking skills are also a little bit below par. Dos Anjos has been improving his wrestling skills as of late and is far and above a better striker than Bocek. I think dos Anjos should be able to keep the bout standing long enough to land a big shot and ruin Bock’s night. Rafael dos Anjos via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate is a French fighter from La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France. He is a former professional kick boxer who compiled a professional kickboxing record of 41-8-2. At 6’6” he is one of the biggest Light Heavyweights in the UFC. The 39-year-old has been competing in combat sports for almost half his life. With an 81.5-inch reach he is one the lankiest strikers in the UFC and is excellent at using his range well. He trains with his own striking team, The Snake Team, as well as spending time at the Team Quest Gym in California. Diabate holds a career record of 18-8-1.
Chad “The Gravedigger” Griggs is an American fighter from Tucson, Arizona. Griggs is best known for his Strikeforce career where he upset former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley and highly hyped prospect Gian Villante at Heavyweight. He’s also well known for his excellent muttonchops sideburns. Griggs is a decent grinder who does his best work at close distance. He’s also extremely durable as he showcased in the bout against Lashley. Griggs in addition to being a fighter works as a fulltime fire fighter and paramedic in his hometown of Tucson. He holds a career record of 11-2.
Prediction and Analysis: I feel like I’m picking a bit against the pack here, but I like Griggs in this fight. Diabate is a talented striker who is tall and uses his range well. However, he’s pretty poor on the ground and although Griggs isn’t the most talented grappler, he’s a grinder who can make the fight ugly. He’s going to have to get inside quickly and use a couple of takedowns to win some points against the Frenchman. If he can get inside and get the bout to the ground consistently, I think he can score a decision win. Chad Griggs via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara
Patrick “The Predator” Cote is a Canadian fighter from Rimouski, Quebec. He is a former TKO Middleweight champion. Cote spent time in the Canadian armed forces, where he learned to box. He then learned kickboxing and wrestling in addition to compliment his martial arts background. Cote is a member of the Tristar Gym in Montreal but also trains with BTT Canada and trains his Muay Thai at Sityodong Boston. Cote is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu although he rarely uses his grappling skills and prefers to stand and trade on the feet. Cote holds a professional MMA record of 17-8 with 8 wins coming by way of knockout.
Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara is an Italian fighter from Rome, Italy. The 31-year-old is a former professional boxer, who compiled an 8-1 record in that sport. He is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu formerly training under Ricardo Almeida, but like Cote prefers to settle bouts with his fists. Sakara is an excellent striker, he puts combinations together well and can mix it up when he needs to. His biggest problem as of late has been his chin, as he’s been finished a number of times in his career and has been rocked in nearly every bout since 2009. He now trains with the American Top Team in Florida. Sakara holds a professional MMA record of 15-9 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Sakara is a talented striker but he’s been betrayed by his chin more often than not. Cote is definitely not going very far during his current UFC tenure but he likely has the power to touch Sakara’s chin and put it to the test. Cote was soundly outworked in his last bout against Cung Le and Sakara can probably employ a similar game plan. The question is always whether or not he can do it without getting knocked out in the process. Really, I think Cote probably wins this one, and it might even be his last win in the UFC. Patrick Cote via KO in Round One
Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza
Mark “The Machine” Hominick is a Canadian fighter from Thamesford, Ontario. The 30-year-old is a training partner of Sam Stout and is a former pupil of the late Shawn Tompkins. He is a member of the Adrenaline Training Center/Team Tompkins Gym in London, Ontario. Hominick was a former UFC Featherweight title contender, but has fallen on hard times and has lost three straight bouts, he very well could be fighting for his job on Saturday night. Hominick is a talented kick boxer who puts his combinations together well, unfortunately in his last couple of bouts, we haven’t seen much of that. Hominick holds a career record of 20-11.
Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza is an American fighter from Fargo, North Dakota. The 29-year-old is a former cast member of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter, though he failed to gain entry into the house after losing his elimination bout against Michael Johnson. Garza is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a decent grappler, but has been controlled by strong wrestlers in the past. Though his Muay Thai striking skills are continuing to improve, he still does his best work on the mat where he has secured 7 Submission victories in the past. Garza trains out of the Academy of Combat Arts in Fargo as well as The Academy in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. He holds a career record of 11-3.
Prediction and Analysis: It’s been a pretty long fall for Hominick since he fought for the UFC Featherweight title and this basically seems like a fight designed to get him back on track. Although his bouts against Eddie Yagin and Chan Sung Jung were supposed to do the same thing, Garza doesn’t have the wrestling to take him down and his striking is definitely a few steps below that of Hominick. Unless Hominick gets reckless and goes to the ground with Garza for some reason, he should be able to out strike him on the feet en-route to a decision. Mark Hominick via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Nick Ring vs. Costa Philippou
Nick “The Promise” Ring is a Canadian fighter from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ring is a 33-year-old who is best known for his being a cast member of the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. After a strong start on the show, he was eventually forced to withdraw due to a knee injury. He trains at the BDB Martial Arts Gym in Calgary as well as the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. Ring is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a decent Muay Thai striker whose best skill is arguably his ability to earn close decisions from judges, even though he may not always be the clear victor. He has had success in the octagon however, and sports a 13-1 professional record.
Constantinos “Costa” Philippou is a Greek Cypriot fighter who now lives in New York, New York. The 32-year-old is a member of the Serra-Longo fight team in New York, training under former Welterweight Champion Matt Serra. Philippou is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but his real strength lies in his boxing skills. Like his opponent for this bout, he was a cast member on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, however Philippou never made it into the house as he lost his elimination bout. Philippou is a talented striker, with big power in his hands, but at times he’s too focused on pure boxing instead of mixing it up with a variety of kicks and takedown attempts. Still he’s found recent success and is on a three-bout winning streak, he holds a career record of 11-2.
Prediction and Analysis: Ring is a grinder and he’s the kind of fighter who could easily give Philippou fits, but the man from New York has been on a tear as of late. Ring also has a strange way of mesmerizing judges into giving him decisions that he doesn’t necessarily deserve. Ring will need to keep his feet moving and stay outside the range of Philippou’s strong strikes. I don’t really think he can run for three rounds without getting tagged somewhere along the way. I like Ring, but this might be a tough match up for him. Costa Philippou via TKO in Round Three
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor
Francis “Limitless” Carmont is a French fighter from Saint-Tropez, France. Recently he began spending part of his training at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. At that gym he has become a training partner of Georges St. Pierre and has become somewhat of a prodigy of the Welterweight champion. He is currently riding an eight-fight winning streak and is 3-0 in the UFC so far. Carmont is a tall athletic fighter who is able to throw knees and kicks both at a distance and in the clinch. Carmont has proven to be a tough match up for anyone in the UFC both on the mat and in the striking realm, but he’s made a few mistakes along the way, but no one has found the ability to make him truly pay for it yet. Carmont holds a career record of 19-7.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor is an American fighter from Fall River, Massachusetts. The 29 year old was a cast member on eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. A talented and tough grinder who wrestled for the University of Central Florida before becoming a professional fighter. Lawlor is a member of Team Aggression fighting out of Lauzon MMA in Providence, Rhode Island. Lawlor is best known for his brash personality and highly entertaining ring entrances. He holds a career record of 8-4 with 1 No Contest.
Prediction and Analysis: Carmont is a true talent and he has proven to be a possible Middleweight up-and-comer and Lawlor should prove to be a good litmus test to see where his skills stand. Lawlor is a tough grinder who can use top control and takedowns to control Carmont on the mat. Carmont has the striking and the aggressive submission game that could carry him to victory, but he’s been prone to a few mental lapses in the past. If Carmont is smart and avoids taking any unnecessary risks, he should be able to stop Lawlor. Francis Carmont via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks
Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann is a Danish fighter from Aarhus, Denmark. Kampmann is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a talented kick boxer who also holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and can be dangerous wherever the fight goes. Despite being overwhelmed and on the verge of defeat in his last two bouts, Kampmann somehow found a way to storm back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. His durability and ability to pull out those hail-mary victories are one of the Dane’s strongest traits. Kampmann has a career record of 20-5, although his most recent two losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez via Decision were highly controversial.
Johnny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is an American fighter from Ada, Oklahoma. The 29-year-old is a former NCAA All-American wrestler from Oklahoma State University. During his high school wrestling career he also won three Oklahoma State titles. Hendricks is a member of Team Takedown training out of Dallas, Texas. He has been rapidly improving his striking skills and recent victories over Josh Koscheck (decision) and Jon Fitch (knockout) have showcased that improved striking. Still Hendricks is at heart a wrestler and does his best work when he uses takedowns and top control to control his opponents. He holds a career record of 13-1.
Analysis and Prediction: A lot of people are very high on Johny Hendricks, but I’m not completely sold. His bouts against Mike Pierce and Josh Koscheck were extremely close split decisions, and I actually think Koscheck won their bout. His KO against Fitch doesn’t say a whole lot, since it ended before it even really got started. But these two are former training partners and should be slightly familiar with one another since it was Hendricks who is at least partially responsible for helping the Dane to improve his wrestling skills. Hendricks has fallen in love with his hands a bit too much lately and though he might have the power to stop Kampmann if he hits a big shot, I think he’ll be at a disadvantage in the stand up. If he’s not willing to change game plans in mid-fight, this might be another upset in the making. Martin Kampmann via Split Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Championship Bout: Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is a Canadian fighter from Saint-Isidore, Quebec. GSP is the reigning and defending UFC Welterweight Champion. St. Pierre has a longtime background in martial arts beginning to learn karate at the age of seven. He holds a 3rd dan black belt in Kyokushin karate, a 1st degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Gaidojutsu and a black belt in Shidokan. St. Pierre is also a talented wrestler with an explosive double leg takedown. St. Pierre is an excellent boxer, who used to rely heavily on a Muay Thai style, but has more recently switched to more of a straight boxing approach to striking, ever since training heavily with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. St. Pierre will be making his first appearance inside the octagon since April 2011 as a torn ACL has kept him on the sidelines for the past year. He holds a career record of 22-2.
Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit is an American fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Condit is a former WEC Welterweight Champion and is currently the UFC Interim Welterweight Champion. A Muay Thai kick boxer with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Condit is a dangerous grappler and has a strong striking arsenal. In his last bout against Nick Diaz, Condit completely outworked Diaz using a boxing game plan with strong footwork to take a unanimous decision. Condit is a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA in his hometown, training under the tutelage of head coach Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. Condit holds a career record of 28-5, including 26 victories via stoppage.
Prediction and Analysis: It’s hard to make a lot of assumptions about this fight. St. Pierre hasn’t fought in over a year, but the layoff has been nearly as long for Condit who hasn’t fought since defeating Nick Diaz. In that bout Condit used an excellent game plan and strong footwork and boxing to outwork Diaz all the way to a decision victory. However, he has struggled against controlling wrestlers who are able to take him down and control him on the mat, nullifying his aggressive submission game.
Before the injury, GSP was a top three pound for pound fighter. It’s hard to say what version of St. Pierre is going to be in the cage on Saturday night. He’s a talented kick boxer with great takedowns, but he relies a lot on timing and the explosiveness behind his shots. To compare his injury to other sports, many star Running Backs in the NFL are never the same again after surgeries like the one GSP just underwent. If that surgery has slowed his speed or agility, he might not be the same fighter that was once feared and respected in the Welterweight division.
Condit has proven himself to be an excellent striker with great counter punching skills. His ability to punch to the body may also become an integral part of his game plan. He showed a lot of body punches in his bout against Diaz, in addition to his strong footwork. If you remember when Matt Serra shocked the world against GSP, he used a couple of big body punches to make GSP lower his hands before going for the kill shot. It’s unlikely that Condit can outwork GSP for a decision, so if he wants to win he’s got to finish him.
It’s not really a secret that I dislike GSP, and I’m not a big fan of his wrestling based style. His lack of finishing ability has earned him some flack from fans in the past, but he’s promised that he’ll be searching for the finish in this bout. If that’s true, he might leave himself more open to counter punches. Also, if his knee injury has impacted his ability at all, then it’s going to make an upset even more likely. Carlos Condit via KO in Round Three
Full UFC fight card…
Georges St-Pierre vs Carlos Condit
Martin Kampmann vs Johny Hendricks
Francis Carmont vs Tom Lawlor
Nick Ring vs Constantinos Philippou
Mark Hominick vs Pablo Garza
Patrick Cote vs Alessio Sakara
Cyrille Diabate vs Chad Griggs
Mark Bocek vs Rafael Dos Anjos
Sam Stout vs John Makdessi
Antonio Carvalho vs Rodrigo Damm
Matthew Riddle vs John Maguire
Ivan Menjivar vs Azamat Gashimov
Steven Siler vs Darren Elkins