Silva vs. Diaz: A Super Fight…

UFC-183-FOXSPORTS-403x403

Saturday’s collision between Anderson ‘the Spider’ Silva (33-6) and Nick Diaz (26-9) in the headliner of UFC 183 might not qualify as a Superfight (neither man is a champion and both are coming off a brace of losses) but the star power and enigmatic nature of both men, combined with so many unknowable factors make this a fight to get excited about.

A year and a half ago, Silva was the no.1 pound for pound fighter in the world and the consensus Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) but a knockout loss to Chris Weidman and a broken leg in the rematch dimmed his star and led to over a year on the shelf.

Now that he has returned, we can only wonder if Anderson can be close to the near-mystical figure he once presented in the Octagon. Will the first back-to-back losses of his career, a horrific injury and lengthy spell on the sidelines have diminished his skills, his passion?

It’s also worth remembering that Silva turns 40 in April, which is a truly impressive vintage for an elite level fighter, especially coming up against one of the most renowned cardio machines in the sport.

Diaz has long been considered one of the best Welterweights in the world, but frustrating decision losses in title matches to Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre and his typically difficult relations with the UFC management have led to almost 22 months in the wilderness.  However, as Nick is eight years Anderson’s junior and does triathlons for fun, I don’t think we can read too much into that period of self imposed exile.

It is rare that a fight between two competitors on a combined 0-4 run and 35 months worth of inactivity attracts such attention, but in this instance we have a pair of the most popular, divisive and mercurial talents in MMA.  Interestingly, right up until Anderson’s second leg break, this would be considered a drastic mismatch (indeed, many still see it that way) albeit one likely to provide a fun fight whereas now, it seems a little fairer…

Diaz gives up height, reach and weight to Silva and has never possessed the same aura against regularly top class opposition or displayed the same creativity in terms of striking prowess. However, with Anderson ageing and coming off a serious injury, Diaz’ confidence, relentless pressure, endless cardio and top notch boxing could be a nightmare for the returning ‘Spider.’

So much relies on how Silva’s mind and body have recovered from the reverses of the past few years and if either let him down, we could easily see Diaz swarm him and pick up a career defining victory. Nontheless, most will be assuming that Silva will pull off some implausibly creative knockout, as we’ve seen so often in the past…

Either way, we find ourselves with a truly compelling contest between two legends of the sport – and despite the exponential increase in the number of UFC cards and bouts, that’s not something we can say all that often.

Expect middle fingers from Diaz, hands down taunting from both men and a stark contrast between intensity and Zen-like calm.

Oh, and expect the unexpected. This is not one to miss.

Advertisements

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: UFC 171 – Hendricks vs. Lawler Edition

77535_740857195936264_1734617880_o

Full results at the bottom of the article, but let’s break it down..

The Good:

I might be a tiny bit biased but seeing Robert Whiteford become the first Scot to earn a UFC win was a very special moment.

Mixing some excellent striking with effective judo takedowns and a measured ground game (understandable against a noted submission artist like Pineda, and coming off a submission loss) Rab showed flair and composure in equal measure to earn his (and our) first UFC victory.

The rest of the prelims totally outshone most of the featured bouts with standout performances from Sean Strickland, Justin Scoggins, Frank Trevino and Dennis Bermudez alongside fun brawls from Alex Garcia & Sean Spencer, Jessica Andrade & Racquel Pennington and Kelvin Gastelum & Rick Story.

Ovince St-Preux becoming the first fighter I’ve ever seen secure a Von Flue choke (basically countering a guillotine by linking hands behind your opponents back, stepping over their opposite arm and choking them with your shoulder) was just awesome to see. Also worth noting good reffing from Dan Miragliotta to call Kyrlov being out with a lag of only a second or so.

Lastly, the main event was a fine back and forth brawl, rightly won by Johny Hendricks (taking the first, second and fifth rounds on my card) but with Robbie Lawler taking his share of the credit.

The Bad:

The clutch of matches which seemingly held the key to who gets to challenge the new champion for the 170lb title fell a bit flat, as neither Hector Lombard or Tyron Woodley won their fights in the most entertaining or convincing fashion with Lombard being more conservative than we’re used to and almost getting choked by Jake Shields at the end, while Woodley’s win came via a freak ACL tear to Carlos Condit*.

At this point, I’d actually say Dong Hyun Kim would be the best choice for no.1 contender…

*Also, as big fans of the Natural Born Killer, it’s pretty bad to see him injured, especially with something as nasty as an ACL tear.  Here’s hoping Carlos’ recovery goes well and he’s back soon.

The Ugly:

This might come across as a little bit biased, but Joe Rogan‘s commentary was awful last night – especially when he criticised Robert Whiteford for a conservative ground game (coming off a sub loss and fighting a guy known for his submissions) and saying he was running away (when he was winning the striking battle at distance and his corner were telling him to avoid getting drawn into a brawl.)

Also laughable was Rogan’s decision to praise Daniel Pineda’s butterfly guard as Whiteford took him down (six times).

There were a fair few other incidents

This wouldn’t bother me if it was consistent, but some fighters are lauded for exactly the same tactics and it seems a clear case of Rogan picking favourites or simply not doing his research on the relative newcomer and choosing to build up the guy he was more familiar with despite the fact he was clearly losing the fight.

This leads to commentary that is a detriment rather than asset to a broadcast and it is harmful to both fighters involved (as the commentator’s praise becomes meaningless) and ultimately the promotion as a whole.

Usually, I quite like Rogan and his enthusiasm and usual insightful calling of the ground game are fantastic, but this growing tendency to pick favourites and ignore the objective truth of a match is a serious issue. Joe could take lessons from Julie Kedzie, Frank Trigg and Josh Palmer on how to do excellent colour commentary without bias.

BONUSES

The UFC gave bonuses to Hendricks & Lawler, Ovince St-Preux and Dennis Bermudez but we’d give the cash to…

FIGHT OF THE NIGHT – Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer – if you want to reward fighters (especially undercard fighters) who come to throw down, this was the one to back. The main eventers don’t need another $50k and this was the fight that had easily the most edge of seat action all night.

PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT #1 – Justin Scoggins

Scoggins was on fire last night, outclassing the veteran Will Campuzano in every area, constantly going for a finish and displaying ultimate confidence and charisma. While he didn’t get the finish that was exactly the kind of all-action performance the UFC should be rewarding.

PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT #2 – Dennis Bermudez

While I feel a bit bad about denying OSP an official bonus for his stunning submission, nowadays it’s about performances and Bermudez completely swarmed the very good Jimy Hettes en route to a TKO earned via sheer dominance rather than one Hail Mary punch.

HONOURABLE MENTION (locker room bonuses) – Ovince St-Preux, Kelvin Gastelum, Rick Story, Jessica Andrade, Racquel Pennington, Frank Trevino & Sean Strickland.

MAIN CARD
Johny Hendricks def. Robbie Lawler to win vacant welterweight title unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) – Round 5, 25:00
Tyron Woodley def. Carlos Condit via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 2:00
Myles Jury def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3
Hector Lombard def. Jake Shields via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3
Ovince St. Preux def. Nikita Krylov via submission (Von Flue choke) – Round 1, 1:29
PRELIMINARY CARD
FOX Sports 2, 8 p.m. ET
Kelvin Gastelum def. Rick Story via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27) – Round 3
Jessica Andrade def. Raquel Pennington via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) – Round 3
Dennis Bermudez def. Jimy Hettes via TKO (knee) – Round 3, 2:57
Alex Garcia def. Sean Spencer via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) – Round 3

PRELIMINARY CARD
Frank Trevino def. Renee Forte via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3
Justin Scoggins def. Will Campuzano via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3
Sean Strickland def. Robert McDaniel via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:33
Robert Whiteford def. Daniel Pineda via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3

UFC 171 – The Welterweight Renaissance Preview

Image

This Saturday in Dallas is the first day of the rest of Welterweight history, zero day in the post-GSP era. The four months since the Canadian’s controversial have been like a wake for the division, even if standout performances by the likes of Dong Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine has reminded us that there is still life in 170lbs.

As of right now, the division explodes back into full life with a title match, no.1 contender’s bout and two more bouts between four accomplished fighters with their eye on the fluid peak of the division.

Topping the bill, Johny Hendricks (15-2) faces off with Robbie Lawler (22-9) in a match between reliably entertaining and heavy handed fighters for the biggest prize in the game.

Hendricks has only ever been defeated by grinding, tactical displays and Lawler’s losses have tended to come at higher weight classes and his lone KO loss is almost 10 years old…

Both men prefer to swing for the fences and even when they win by decision, it tends to be because they were the more aggressive fighter, rather than a canny game plan.

If the fighter’s records and pre-fight talk are any indication this should be a balls-out war that either ends in a highlight reel knockout or an epic, close fought five round decision.

I’d give Hendricks the edge on account of his chin, apparently heavier hands and his wrestling ability but Lawler is no slouch on any of those counts…

In the co-main event Carlos Condit (29-7) and Tyron Woodley (12-2) are set to duke it out for the dubious honour of being Hendricks or Lawler’s first defence of the title.

Condit has become a star in the UFC despite ‘only’ a 6-3 record in the Octagon thanks to his explosive performances and tendency to only lose to the very elite in highly competitive matches.

A striker by preference but with a capable ground game, Condit’s weakness has come against high level grapplers who can steal rounds against him with takedowns – although Condit’s ability for a flash KO has rendered the grinding of Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim obsolete in the past.

Grinding may be Woodley’s best tactic here as Condit is by far the more cultured striker and Woodley’s most consistent run of victories came via his wrestling. His recent form has been spotty, going 2-2 in his last four (which is also true of Condit, but against better opposition) with big KOs of the fading Josh Koscheck and Jay Hieron and losses to the canny Jake Shields and Nate Marquardt.

Woodley COULD knock Condit out but. I think Carlos stands the better chance of winning a gunfight.

Next up we have almost a classic grappler vs. striker match as Jake Shields (29-6-1) takes on Hector Lombard (33-4-1).

Both these fighters came into the UFC on epic winning streaks and as the highly regarded Middleweight champions of their former organisations but have found success harder to come by in the UFC.

Shields dropped his second and third outings but has gone undefeated in four fights since even if he’s not found a finish. Lombard sits on a 2-2 run in the UFC but looks a killer since his recent drop to 170lbs.

While Shields tendency for decision and submission wins shows his ‘American juijitsu’ style and Lombard’s 19 KO victories pay testament to his reputation as a striker, it’s worth remembering that Shields trains with the Diaz brothers and uses solid striking to set up his takedowns and trips, while Lombard is a Olympic level judoka who also has considerable submission and grappling skills.

This is a very significant fight, with the winner joining Dong Hyun Kim and Rory McDonald in the pool of fighters just outside immediate title contention, and as much as I want to see a Lombard KO win, I’ve learned not to bet against Jake Shields. Close one.

Once upon a time, Rick Story (16-7) was on a six fight winning streak and probably one win away from a title shot. Back to back losses followed by a period of win one, lose one has seen Story mired in the midcard and in order to put together his first back to back wins in three and a half years he has to stop the rise of TUF winner Kelvin Gastelum (7-0.)

Gastelum was the quiet man in his season of TUF, coming in from the dark to confidently dispose of more vocal and celebrated fighters like Bubba McDaniel, Josh Samman and Uriah Hall. He looked an absolute beast in his second UFC bout against Brian Melancon and then actively asked for a fight against the notoriously difficult story.

So, does the comeback continue for the veteran or does the new star continue to rise? I guess we’ll find out on Saturday.

Full Card

MAIN CARD
Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler for vacant welterweight title
Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley
Myles Jury vs. Diego Sanchez
Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields
Nikita Krylov vs. Ovince St. Preux

PRELIMINARY CARD
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Rick Story
Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington
Dennis Bermudez vs. Jimy Hettes
Alex Garcia vs. Sean Spencer

FIGHT PASS CARD
Renee Forte vs. Frank Trevino
Will Campuzano vs. Justin Scoggins
Robert McDaniel vs. Sean Strickland
Daniel Pineda vs. Robert Whiteford

MMA Monday – September 2nd 2013

20130901-215859.jpg
It’s been a hell of a week. In the past ten days we’ve had Cage Warriors from Chechnya, UFC Indy, UFC 164 and two kickass local shows in Scotland, FFC 3 and SFC 7.

I’ve not been as vocal as I have been because, well real life gets in the way and I’m fed up venting my frustration about the dubious actions of certain promotions and certain fans and media’s unhelpful attitudes and vocalisations.

A little less content and a lot more positivity from here on in.

Anyways, a lot has happened so let’s pick five things to be all excited about…

1- Cage Warriors 58 in Chechnya

Usual great event, solid stream, great commentary, good officiating. Expected wins for the usual faces with James Brum especially impressing (and surely earning a title shot) but what really stood out was the performance of some of the more local fighters who I’d never heard of before.

Beslan Isaev, Bakhtiyar Abbasov and Khusien Kahliev all scored impressive wins and I’m sure they’ll feature on future Cage Warriors shows. It’d be very interesting to see how they measure up to the likes of

2- Brandon Thatch

Coming in highly touted from Resurrection Fighting Alliance (previous alums like Tim Elliot, and James Krause have acquitted themselves well in the Octagon), Brandon Thatch and his awesome hairstyle scored a noteworthy first round KO over four fight UFC veteran Justin Edwards.

He’s gonna be a big star, and that’s been clear to those of us who pay attention to more than the UFC for a while.

True story – Thatch was meant to headline a Cage Warriors Fight Night last year (yet more testament to Ian Dean’s eye for talent) but his still-unrevealed opponent refused the fight because Thatch wasn’t a big enough name.

That guy is either feeling REALLY dumb right now, or like he dodged a bullet…

3- Carlos Condit

You know a guy is a bit special when he can lose twice in a row and still be considered the #3 guy in his weight class.

Condit proved it on Wednesday when he comprehensively out struck Martin Kampmann over four rounds, avoiding his top level kickboxing, capable wrestling and very dangerous guillotine before finishing him with a combination of punches and knees.

The Natural Born Killer looked amazing in Indianapolis, showing a level of creativity, composure and aggression in his striking attack that is probably only matched by Cub Swanson and Conor McGregor in the current UFC roster.

He’s a beast, and what’s more he’s popular – easily a bigger star now than he was before his failed title match with GSP. It’s probably a bit soon to have him challenge the winner of GSP vs. Hendricks given he’s recently lost to both men, but a match with in-form Matt Brown or Rory MacDonald would be a great fight, well deserving of a five round main event on a TV card.

4- Josh Barnett, Frank Mir and a TKO

Barnett and Mir are two of the most experienced Heavyweights in the world, with two of the most respected submission games in the sport. Of course, such skills ended up playing virtually no role in the fight as Barnett controlled Mir with apparent ease, using his catch wrestling skills to manipulate Mir against the cage and unleash a series of heavy blows.

A beautiful knee against the cage caused Mir to fold up like an old suit, and while Barnett landed a few blows on the ground, the referee was moving in for the stoppage as soon as Mir started to drop.

Mir was conscious and upright almost immediately after the stoppage and claims the call was early.

While I have no doubt that a few more blows from Barnett would have sealed the deal beyond all doubt, I feel that the referee (even if he is an unfamiliar face) saw something in Mir’s eyes as he went down.

Lets remember that a great many fighters have been knocked out and then been woken up when they hit the canvas or by the first landed blow of ground & pound.

Lets not doubt the word of the official who was looking into Mir’s eyes, just because his surname isn’t Dean or Goddard, just because Mir is a veteran and protested noisily.

Fighter safety is the most important thing, at all times. For the sake of Frank Mir, his family and this sport, Im glad the referee called it when he did. Frank has now been knocked out three times in as many years, he doesn’t need to be taking more unprotected shots to the head…

Verdict: GOOD CALL

5- Anthony Pettis, UFC Lightweight Champion

All doubts about Pettis are past. Once he managed to determine distance against Ben Henderson, his kicks were irresistible and when he got flashy and it looked like a mistake when he attempted a rolling Capoeira kick, he landed the technique adding more damage to Benson’s already and with Henderson landing in full mount, it was Oettis who remained on the attack.

A beautiful armbar transition and readjustment later, and Henderson vitally submitted. Pettis was champion, Milwaukee took a few seconds to realise and then went mental…

It’s worth remembering that Henderson has only been submitted in MMA once previously, in his third professional fight. He’s since gone the distance with noted submission guys like Nate Diaz, Jim Miller, Mark Bocek and Clay Guida and has submitted the likes of Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner.

A submission win over Henderson is HUGE.

Pettis is now King of the most competitive mountain in MMA and the prospects for future matches are mouthwatering. A trilogy match with Henderson, bouts against the no.1 contender he supplanted, TJ Grant or the very credible Josh Thomson, Gilbert Melendez or Rafael Dos Anjos are all possible in the next six months, and I for one would be VERY interested in any of those fights…

The moral of the past week?

IT’S SHOWTIME!

UFC 158 St-Pierre vs. Diaz Results

20130317-050936.jpg
It felt like something special, but for long stretches UFC 158 was an endurance test of patience and faith.

The undercard saw a job saving KO win by Rick Story over Quinn Mulhern, an impressive Octagon debut for Jordan Mein, defeating veteran Dan Miller and some dubious officiating as Yves Lavigne stopped Darren Elkins from delivering further damage to Antonio Carvalho when most would say he was merely rocked, although a TKO did look imminent.

Last of all in the prelims, we saw Patrick Cote make his 170lb debut in a great scrap with Bobby Voelker which we had as a 29-28 win for Voelker but the judges scored for the Canadian. Funny how often that happens.

The main card started in super dull fashion with Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher, followed by Chris Camozzi and Nick Ring in active yet strangely lukewarm contests which resulted in one deserved decision win for Ricci and a surprise decision win for Camozzi.

Business picked up as we rolled into our unofficial welterweight grand pix as Jake Ellenberger earned a highlight reel moment, knocking Nate Marquardt out in the first round. I urge you to hunt for replays of this knockout because it was a thing of great and terrible beauty.

Former interim champion Carlos Condit faced on-a-roll Johny Hendricks in what was reckons to be a no.1 contenders fight and did not disappoint. Both guys pressed forward, with Condit and Hendricks taking each others best shots and smiling about it. Hendricks repeatedly took Condit down but couldn’t keep him down, although on balance it was the takedowns that made the difference on the scorecards.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for Wanderlei vs. Stann, this would probably be my fight of the year so far. Check it out.

In the main event, the question as to whether Nick Diaz had gotten into GSP‘s head enough to throw him off with his gameplan was answered with an emphatic NO.

St-Pierre’s double leg takedowns were as inescapable as ever and while Diaz showed his impressive ground skills in avoiding damage and seeking subs, GSP was always the man in the ascendancy.

Curiously in later rounds, Diaz spent more time taunting GSP than pressing for a finish and GSP more than held his own in the striking contests, especially at one point where Diaz threw a speculative crescent kick, GSP answered with a more picture perfect, textbook version of the same move.

In the end, it was a business as usual, unanimous decision for GSP who ties Matt Hughes for most UFC appearances (18) and passes him in terms of title defences. GSP was gracious in victory, asking the Montreal crowd to applaud Diaz, who once again intimated that he intends to retire from MMA.

All in all, the event didn’t quite live up to billing as Nick failed to get GSP’s dark place to extend into the Octagon and we were left with a feeling of same old, same old from the main event. However, the quality action on the undercard and from the other main card welterweights more than made up for it. Now we get a few weeks off before UFC Sweden.

Kumite Fight of the Night: Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit
Kumite KO of the Night: Jake Ellenberger (vs. Nate Marquardt)

Full Results

Georges St-Pierre def. Nick Diaz via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to retain UFC Welterweight title
• Johny Hendricks def. Carlos Condit via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Jake Ellenberger def. Nate Marquardt via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:00
• Chris Camozzi def. Nick Ring via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
• Mike Ricci def. Colin Fletcher via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
• Patrick Cote def. Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Darren Elkins def. Antonio Carvalho via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:06
• Jordan Mein def. Dan Miller via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:42
• John Makdessi def. Daron Cruickshank via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Rick Story def. Quinn Mulhern via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:05
• T.J. Dillashaw def. Issei Tamura via KO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 0:26
• George Roop def. Reuben Duran via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

UFC 158 Weigh In Results & Pic

20130315-205301.jpg

At the UFC 158 weigh ins, all the fighters made weight and as such our Welterweight championship grudge match is locked in for tomorrow.

Oh, and Nick & Georges had one last, intense tangle, quickly broken up by Dana White.

We’re excited. Are you excited?

Full UFC. 158 Weigh In Results

MAIN CARD
Champ Georges St-Pierre (170) vs. Nick Diaz (169) – for welterweight title
Carlos Condit (169) vs. Johny Hendricks (171)
Jake Ellenberger (170) vs. Nate Marquardt (171)
Chris Camozzi (185) vs. Nick Ring (183)
Colin Fletcher (155) vs. Mike Ricci (156)

PRELIMINARY CARD
Patrick Cote (169) vs. Bobby Voelker (169)
Antonio Carvalho (145) vs. Darren Elkins (145)
Jordan Mein (170) vs. Dan Miller (171)
Daron Cruickshank (155) vs. John Makdessi (155)

PRELIMINARY CARD
Quinn Mulhern (168) vs. Rick Story (169)
TJ Dillashaw (135) vs. Issei Tamura (135)
Reuben Duran (135) vs. George Roop (135)

UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz Undercard Preview

20130314-090602.jpg
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