UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz
Sat, 16 Mar 2013
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
We’ve covered the main event elsewhere, but there are a bundle of other fights on this weekend’s card deserving of your attention.
First up is our co-main event between recent Interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit (28-6) and should-be-no.1-contender Johny Hendricks (14-1) in a bout that could well produce our next no.1 contender, depending who wins either match.
On the face of it, this should be a storming bout as these two share a combined 21 knockout victories, with another 14 by submission.
However, neither man has ever been knocked out, with Hendricks’ sole loss coming by decision (to Rick Story) while Condit splits his six defeats evenly between submission and decision.
In recent times, Condit has tended to win with his fists, knocking out Fan Hardy, Dong Hyun Kim and Rory McDonald before splitting a decision wins and loss over his last two bouts with Saturday’s main event ears.
By contrast, Hendricks either seems to get an early KO, taking out Jon Fitch, Martin Kampmann and TJ Waldburger in under two and half minutes combined, but struggling to split decision wins over tough grapplers like Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce.
That bodes poorly for Condit as throwing his loss to Story in, it seems Johny’s kryptonite is a similarly rugged boxer/wrestler to himself, while guys with similarly crispy striking games to Condit (Martin Kampmann and Amir Sadollah) have been dispatched in short order.
However, Condit has never been finished and he’s shown himself capable of withstanding great punishment and sneaking out a win (against McDonald) and also implementing a any gameplan (against Diaz.)
I have to say that for me, this one has a decision written all over it, with Condit’s movement and counter striking playing out against Hendricks’ takedowns and haymakers. Of course, if Johny lands that big right hand or Condit gets to tee up his Muay Thai, then that stat of no KO losses could easily end for either man.
Next down the bill sees two seriously experienced fighters who are perpetually on the edge of title contention facing off to see who stays immediately relevant in the Welterweight division. On one side we have Jake Ellenberger (28-6) who snapped a six fight win streak with a loss against Martin Kampmann in June before rebounding to best Jay Heiron by decision.
In the other, we have former King of Pancrase, former UFC Middleweight title challenger and divisional gatekeeper and former Strikeforce Welterweight champion looking to rebound from his surprise loss to Tarec Saffiedine at the last Strikeforce card, Nate Marquardt (33-11-2).
Both of these guys are well rounded, experienced fighters equally capable of finishing a fight in seconds, given half a chance or grinding out decision victories. While both have good submission skills, neither has a win via tap out in over five years, preferring to let their fists do the talking.
However, both guys are notoriously hard to finish, with only five stoppage losses between them in a combined SEVENTY NINE fights. That’s something like a one in sixteen chance of either of these guys getting stopped.
However, they don’t face opposition of this calibre every day and both Jake and Nate have built reputations as game fighters who come forward, eat punches and punch back harder. Anything can happen…
Next up is a contest between two guys who have quietly put together impressive runs and stand just outside the top ten of the Middleweight division.
Well rounded Chris Camozzi (18-5) put together a full house of TKO, submission and decision victories in 2012 to come into this match on a 3-0 run, his best run to date in the UFC. Across the cage, the measured Nick ‘the Promise’ Ring (13-1) has recovered from his only career loss, to Tim Boetsch in 2011 with a solid decision win over Court McGee last year.
Ring’s grappling is top notch and Camozzi has shown himself susceptible to calm headed grapplers in losses to the likes of Jesse Taylor and Kyle Noke, but injury has robbed Ring of a consistent career (his fourteen matches have taken twelve years to accrue) and Camozzi comes in with the greater momentum and less, ahem ring-rust.
Rounding out the main card is a battle of recent Ultimate Fighter Finalists as Mike Ricci (7-3) faces Colin ‘Dr Freakshow’ Fletcher (8-2).
Both men were defeated in their TUF finals by solid grappling performances by Colton Smith and Norman Parkes respectively but should expect a more open contest against each other.
Fletcher is a submissions wizard and a quite freakishly (ahem) tall Lightweight at 6’2″ while Ricci managed to make the finals of TUF despite competing against Welterweights. With home field advantage and the benefit of wins over the likes of Jordan Mein, Ricci has to be the favourite but I’ll be cheering on Fletcher, because he’s British and because he’s CRAZY.
The pick of the prelims has to be Patrick Cote (18-8) making his Welterweight debut against Strikeforce alum Bobby Voelker (24-8).
Cote has never been the same since getting I juried against Anderson Silva and his only win in his last five UFC matches is via DQ because Alessio Sakara tagged him on the back of the head midway through an evident TKO. Cote says he feels faster and better than he has in years down at 170lbs, but Voelker is a tough and heavy handed competitor coming in off a 3-0 streak.
Darren Elkins (15-2) comes into his bout with Antonio Carvalho (15-5) on a four-nil streak that sees him edging up on the title picture at Featherweight, while Jordan Mein (26-8) – yeah, that’s 34 fights at the age of 23 – looks to live up to his billing as one of the next big things, with his only loss in nine fights being a split decision to Tyron Woodley against UFC veteran gatekeeper Dan Miller (14-6) who will be hoping to continue his good form since dropping to Welterweight.
Below the top few matches, it’s not the most star studded card, but events in Canada rarely disappoint – a huge, knowledgeable and noisy crowd helps – and there’s a lot of compelling matches to be found if you look past name value alone.
As usual, viewing information for your part of the world can be found on http://www.ufc.com but please follow @TeamKumite for live tweeting commentary.
MAIN (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
• Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz – for welterweight title
• Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks
• Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt
• Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Ring
• Colin Fletcher vs. Mike Ricci
PRELIMINARY (FX, 8 p.m. ET)
• Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker
• Antonio Carvalho vs. Darren Elkins
• Jordan Mein vs. Dan Miller
• Daron Cruickshank vs. John Makdessi
PRELIMINARY (Facebook, 6:35 p.m. ET)
• Quinn Mulhern vs. Rick Story
• T.J. Dillashaw vs. Issei Tamura
• Reuben Duran vs. George Roop