When Georges St-Pierre is fighting, the MMA world and the sport world is watching.
I don't know how GSP does it, but he manages to make even the squeamish violence haters tune in to watch the UFC. I am sorry to see Rory MacDonald off the card, but I can't help but think this is a better card to determine the next contender, unless Nick Diaz wins. Then what do we do? Go skating with Lucifer I guess (that's a reference to the chance that Diaz has to win this).
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
James Lynch, TSN.ca: Hometown favorite St-Pierre looks to defend his title for the eighth straight time when he clashes with the former Strikeforce welterweight champion Diaz. Whether you think the Stockton native deserves this title shot or not, there is no denying his versatile attack (being a Brazilian jujitsu black belt and having knockout power) possesses a threat to the French Canadian. Also factor in Diaz's incredible gas tank and the fact he's only been stopped twice in his career (one being due to cuts against K.J. Noons at Elite XC: Renegade in 2007).
The question is can the 29-year-old be the aggressor like he has shown in his previous fights and control St-Pierre? To this writer, I don't think so. If you look at the Caesar Gracie student's past victories, none of his opponents were superior wrestlers like the calibre of the 31-year-old Canadian. The Zahabi MMA student will likely take Diaz to the ground numerous times throughout the fight and implement damage using his typical ground and pound attack.
I see this fight playing out similarly to Nate Diaz (Nick's brother) unanimous decision loss to Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX this past December, where the superior wrestler (Henderson) controlled the entire fight. I'm a huge fan of both these fighters and it should be entertaining for sure, but I don't think Diaz will have any answers for St-Pierre.
St-Pierre via Unanimous Decision
Jordan Cieciwa, TSN Radio 1290: Not sure what else to say. The only thing that gives me a thought that Diaz can win was watching Condit complete a sweep on GSP. The science on that may be in St-Pierre's knee. It's possible that the new ACL isn't letting him sink his hips like he did before. That small room at side control may allow a Caesar Gracie black belt enough room to get his hips in, elevate the champ and turn the position.
The question becomes, can he find a submission on GSP. If Diaz has any chance at winning it will be with a shoulder lock or with a heel hook. Other than that, St-Pierre will control this whole fight.
St-Pierre via Technical Knockout (Fourth Round -Watch for the Superman punch)
Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks
Lynch: While I admire Hendricks' courage for stepping up (replacing the injured Canadian Rory MacDonald) I think he's making a big mistake facing the former UFC interim welterweight champion Condit.
For those unaware, the former NCAA Division I wrestler was snubbed for a title shot against GSP and had been originally matched up with Jake Ellenberger on this card (which many pundits, including myself, believed was an easier opponent.) Instead “Bigg Rigg” faces a hungry Condit, who is coming off a loss against the champion St-Pierre and now is in more danger of losing his 170-pound title shot.
Hendricks' has won the majority of his fights by knockout and faces an opponent who has never been knocked out through 34 career fights. I see Condit controlling Hendricks against the cage and threatening with his submission game over three rounds.
Condit via Unanimous Decision
JC: I am excited that this fight is the one that got settled on. They offered Condit to Saffiendine, he wisely declined. The Ellenberger fight would have been a very long drawn out event, the only saving grace there would have been Hendricks' mighty left hand.
Hendricks faces a big problem here, not only in the talent and chin of Condit, but in the entire team over at Jackson's MMA. So far, Hendricks seems very one dimensional. Condit can win any way he chooses. He is surprisingly strong, and hits hard.
I imagine this fight will end in a choke out win for Condit. My hope is Condit gets a rematch out of this fight. I think he can beat GSP.
Condit via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke, Second Round)
Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt
Lynch: Expect both fighters to make a statement as the two fights above have overshadowed this welterweight match up. The question is which Nate “The Great” will we see? The one who endured a lopsided loss to Tarec Saffiedine in his last fight or the one who knocked out Tyron Woodley back in July?
Ellenberger's bread and butter is his wrestling and typically the former Strikeforce 170-pound champion has struggled with wrestlers, as witnessed in his losses to Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen. While I think this fight will be competitive, I see “The Juggernaut” coming out on top in the end.
Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision
JC: I am a huge Ellenberger fan. Great family story, hard working athlete, and has a lot of impressive wins in a short time. He has lost his big fights in the past, and seemed to do so because of nerves. Now that he has “been to the dance” a few times at the highest level, I think we may see that complete athlete.
Marquardt is always an anomaly. He can come out and hit a guy so hard he back flips (Damien Maia) or he can forget that he is fighting to retain a title (Tarec Saffiedine). No matter which version of Marquardt shows up, I think we will see Ellenberger control this one start to finish.
Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision
Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Ring
Lynch: The Calgary native Ring has been the beneficiary of some questionable decisions in the UFC which has resulted in a 3-1 UFC record. I don't think his luck will fare the same way this time as I see Camozzi pulling off the decision victory.
Camozzi via Unanimous Decision
JC: I agree that Ring has got a few decisions to fall his way, but it's because he stays in the fight and makes it right to the final bell. He has also shown a lot of improvement along the way. He is a better fighter each time that cage door closes.
Camozzi has fought the better list of fighters, and has got some big wins. My thought on this is a sharp Ring comes out with something to prove in his hometown and pulls out a win.
Ring via Submission (Triangle Choke, Third Round)
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher
Lynch: Ricci drops to his natural weight class of lightweight and is paired with the TUF: Smashes runner-up Fletcher. On paper the Montreal native clearly has the advantage in every area and if he can get his head right mentally, he has every opportunity to win this fight. I think we'll see a much different fighter than the one who lost a lopsided unanimous decision at the TUF 16 finale to Colton Smith.
Ricci via Unanimous Decision
JC: Hometown, natural weight, and angry about his last loss to Smith. I don't think Fletcher has what it takes to stop Ricci with all the stars aligned in his favor.
Ricci via Technical Knockout (Second Round)
#TeamLynch and #TeamJC agree on the undercard fights. Cote, Elkins, Mein, Cruickshank, Story , Dillishaw, Roop.
Watch for Patrick Cote to make a very interesting fight out of his match up. He has fallen a long way down since fighting Anderson Silva. He is going to be there with something to prove and the skills to do it.
Rick Story will also put together a show. He is on his way to being a main card fighter. That pay raise means the world to these fighters. Look for him to end the night early.