By Anthony Pepe, Staff Writer
MARCH 13, 2013 – On Saturday, March 16th, The Ultimate Fighting Championship finds itself in George Rush St-Pierre’s backyard once again at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is there that St-Pierre is scheduled to defend his UFC welterweight belt against Nick Diaz, but not before a host of hopefuls and mainstays, some current and some not so current, look to make their mark during this welterweight-dominated card. UFC 158 will get its start on Facebook, progress on to FX, and then the main card will begin at 10pm ET on PPV.
And now it’s time to move on to preview and predict the five fights that will make up the main card of UFC 158. Don’t forget to comment below, agree or disagree, especially if you disagree. I want to hear what you have to say.
UFC 158 Main Card Previews and Predictions (PPV)
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher – Lightweight Bout
Opening the main card for the evening brings us Mike Ricci (7-3). Ricci was a member of The Ultimate Fighter, Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson, where he fought for Team Carwin. He won “Knockout of the Season” honors during his semifinal, first-round KO of Neil Magny on his way to the finale, where he lost a unanimous decision to Colton Smith. He has teeter-tottered his way through his last six fights (3-3), and will be looking to tip the scales back in favor of the “W” when he steps into the Octagon against Colin Fletcher.
Colin Fletcher (8-2), too is, an alum of TUF, having been part of Team UK on “The Smashes” in one of only two international installments of the ZUFFA spectacular. Fletcher, in turn, also found himself in the finale, where he lost a unanimous decision to Norman Park.
Prediction: Both of these promising fighters come into this fight with something to prove; namely, that they are not just runners up. For one of them, however, that moniker will remain. Fletcher will look to keep Ricci at a distance with his longer reach and pick him apart from the outside, but it will be Ricci, fighting out of the Tri-Star Gym and part of the GSP camp, that will come out on top in this one. Ricci by second round TKO.
Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi – Middleweight Bout
Nick Ring is another fighter on this card training at the Tri-Star Gym, and he comes into this fight with a 13-1 record. Chris Camozzi touts an 18-5 record. Both of these fighters are 3-1 in their most recent UFC fights. Both have finished more than 60 percent of their opponents. Both have been cast members on TUF, had exciting fights to gain entry to the house, and ultimately had their dreams dashed when they had to pull out of the competition for injuries. Ring looking at his third ACL reconstruction after winning his second match of the season against Court McGee via majority decision. Camozzi suffered a broken jaw in his hard-fought three-round battle to enter the house. You couldn’t write a more evenly matched pair. Well, you could, but in reality, these two are about as evenly matched as they come.
Prediction: This fight has all the makings of a knock-down, drag-out war. It also has the potential to be a very technical, strategic battle that doesn’t always express visually just how competitive it really is. Nick Ring by split decision.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt – Welterweight Bout
Imagine a fight between two fighters that between them have over eighty fights, less than twenty losses and more than forty-five wins by stoppage. We have that in this fight between Jake Ellenberger (28-6) and his opponent, Nate Marquardt (35-11-2). Ellenberger is a heavy-handed, well-rounded fighter with an iron jaw, who has earned seventeen of his twenty-eight wins by way of knockout. He has won eight of his last ten fights, nine of which were fought in the UFC. You can bet that he will be looking to take it to Marquardt in this fight, and he is going to have to do just that if he expects to come out on top, or come out at all, in this one.
Marquardt comes into this fight having won six of his last ten fights, eight of which have been in the Octagon. In that time, he has won and lost the Strikeforce welterweight belt, and has held three other championships in three different promotions. Marquardt has defeated a veritable who’s who of the welterweight and middleweight divisions, both in and out of the UFC.
Prediction: We have another potential scorcher on our hands here, with well-rounded, heavy-handed welterweights with middleweight power. Somebody is going to fall in this one, and it is going to be Nate Marquardt, involuntarily bowing out in the second round. Ellenberger by TKO, second round.
Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks – Welterweight Bout
The former WEC Welterweight Champ, Carlos Condit (28-6), holds a unanimous decision victory over the man challenging for the welterweight belt tonight, Nick Diaz. While it was a dominant performance in which he controlled the pace and real estate inside the ring, it was a less-than-spectacular vision to behold. It turns out that he would lose to the man defending that same belt tonight, George St-Pierre, in a slightly more exciting fight, in his next outing. He has got to believe that a decisive win tonight over Johny Hendricks (14-1) will put him one step closer to a possible fight with the winner of tonight’s main event.
Hendricks comes into tonight’s fray on a five-fight winning streak, including defeats of Martin Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, and Jon Fitch. He has collected “Knockout of the Night” bonuses on three different occasions and “Fight of the Night” once. His first and only loss came at the hands of Rick Story by way of unanimous decision over two years ago. Hendricks has proven, one-punch knockout power, and is going to be looking to put his hands on Condit, rest assured, more than just once.
Prediction: With possible future contender implications hovering over the fight, we will be in for one incredible bout. Hendricks will come out swinging, looking to make a statement about his intentions within the UFC. But this is not Condit’s first time locked in a cage with a powerful, aggressive striker looking to take his head off. He will grind out a hard-fought three-round battle, and find himself on top at the end. Condit by unanimous decision.
George St-Pierre (champion) vs. Nick Diaz – Welterweight Title Bout
Ladies and gentlemen, in tonight’s main event we have George St-Pierre (23-2) and his opponent Nick Diaz (27-8-1). St-Pierre comes into this fight with a ten-fight winning streak. His last loss came by TKO to Matt Serra over six years ago when he lost the UFC welterweight title, a loss that he redeemed just one year later, again unifying the welterweight title. His only other loss came at the hands of the then-champ Matt Hughes in St-Pierre’s first shot at the UFC belt. That loss, too, he redeemed, on two separate occasions, once by winning the UFC welterweight title for the first time, and the other by winning the interim welterweight title before unifying the title, as previously mentioned, against Matt Serra.
Nick Diaz, on the other hand, comes into this fight having his eleven-fight winning streak broken in his last fight with Carlos Condit. During that time, he won and subsequently defended the Strikeforce welterweight championship three times before vacating the title. From there, he moved on to the UFC, winning “Fight of the Night” honors in his unanimous decision victory, where he picked apart legendary fighter BJ Penn.
George St-Pierre is a premier athlete and a premier mixed martial artist, who has proven time and time again that he has the physical ability to capitalize on all his knowledge and talent. Nick Diaz is a fighter unto himself. No one is like him save his younger brother Nate, who shares a lot of similarities both physically and stylistically. His standup, as well as his mouth, tends to confuse and frustrate fighters, and his ground game can be a dangerous thing to test. He has accumulated twenty one of his twenty-six victories by finishing his opponent (13 KO’s and 8 subs).
Prediction: It appears that Diaz has gotten under St-Pierre’s skin as of late, and he promises to give Diaz a beating of a lifetime. But to do so, he would have to step out of his comfort zone of sticking to a game plan and calmly controlling the fight. He is starting the fight in an emotional state, and Diaz hasn’t begun to taunt, goad, and punch him yet. Diaz will use his verbal warfare to ensure St-Pierre stays off of his usual game plan. Midway through the fourth round, St-Pierre’s emotions will get the better of him, and he will take Diaz down. It is there on the mat that St-Pierre will find Diaz’s arm under his chin during a frantic scramble for control, but having squandered his opportunity to control the fight, he will succumb to a rear naked choke. Diaz by submission, round 4.