UFC 158 “St-Pierre vs. Diaz Main Card preview

March 13, 2013

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UFC 158 “St-Pierre vs. Diaz Main Card preview



John Boldrick – This Saturday, The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec for UFC 158. It will be the seventh UFC event this year and also the third to be held outside the United States of America. Last time the UFC came to Montreal, GSP defended his title against Carlos Condit in a five round battle that took home “Fight of the Night” honours.

The card is much changed from the originally announced match-ups, although one fight has stayed constant. In the main event, Nick Diaz will finally get his shot at UFC gold when he takes on Georges St. Pierre for the Welterweight title.

The fight was originally booked for UFC 137 all the way back in October 2011. Diaz was pulled from that the fight after no showing pre fight press conferences and replaced with Carlos Condit. After a GSP knee injury forced him to pull out of his title bout, the main event was changed to Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn. Here, some 17 months later, we get to see the original scrap.

This is the quickest turnaround for a GSP since 2008. Back then, he defeated Matt Serra for the title then turned around and defended against Jon Fitch less than four months later. This will be St. Pierre’s first fight of 2013 and only his second back after a 19 month layoff.

His opponent has also had to spend some time away from the cage. Diaz’s last fight was at UFC 143 against Carlos Condit. While he may not have picked up the interim title that night, he did pick up a one year suspension for a positive test for marijuana metabolites.

While it appeared that GSP’s next title defense would be against the highest ranked welterweight not named St. Pierre, Johny Hendricks, the champ made it clear that he was still interested in facing Diaz. The fight was made and since the challenger has done anything he can to get inside the champions head. If a recent conference call is any indication, expect fireworks come Saturday night.

The co-main event for the evening is a little different than originally planned. What was thought to be a homecoming for Rory MacDonald was erased when Ares went down with a neck and back strain. It’s the third Canadian card MacDonald has had to pull out of because of injury (UFC 140, UFC 152). In his place steps Johny Hendricks to take on MacDonald’s original opponent, Carlos Condit.

Last time out, Condit lost against GSP in Montreal, but not before downing the champion with a head kick in round three. The loss stopped Condit’s five fight win streak and he will no doubt be looking for retribution here.

Hendricks was moved up the card after the injury to MacDonald. Bigg Rigg is the owner of a 9-1 record inside the octagon, including a five fight win streak. His past three opponents have all been top ten in the division, and he knocked out two of them in under a minute each. With a win here, Hendricks should receive the title shot that some think he earned long ago.

When Hendricks got the call to face Condit that left his original opponent, Jake Ellenberger, without someone to face. A former top contender, Ellenberger got back in the win column after decisioning Jay Hieron at UFC on FX 5 October. It was a good win for The Juggernaut, who previously saw his streak snapped at the hands of Martin Kampmann.

His opponent for the night will be the returning Nate Marquardt. A veteran of 14 UFC fights, this will be Marquardt’s first UFC bout almost exactly two years. The Great was cut from the UFC after several issues surrounding UFC live on Versus 4. After being cut, Marquardt signed on with British promotion BAMMA and eventually found a home with Strikeforce, becoming their Welterweight champion. While The Great lost the title on the last Strikeforce event, he is once again back in the UFC and looking to make an impact at his current weight class.

Next up is a battle of two Ultimate Fighter season 11 alumni. Both Nick Ring and Chris Camozzi were a part of the show, but neither stuck around for very long. Camozzi defeated Victor O’Donnell in a very hard fought battle, but suffered a broken jaw along the way and had to be replaced by current UFC fighter Seth Baczynski. Ring beat eventual Winner Court McGee in the first round of the show, but a recurring ACL injury forced him out of competition.

Camozzi is 5-2 in UFC career and is currently on a three fight win streak. He last fought Luis Cane at UFC 153 in Brazil. It’s interesting to note that seven of Camozzi’s last eight fights have, at the very least, made it to the third round. Camozzi is 1-1 in official competition against those he lived with inside the ultimate fighter house.

Ring is 3-1 in his UFC career. Last time out, the Calgary native took home a win, besting McGee during the UFC’s first trip to Calgary. The win was a big one for Ring, as it was a rubber match that we could have seen in the second round of the ultimate fighter 11. Ring knows a thing or two about the third round himself, as his past four fights have each gone over ten minutes.

Kicking off the main card will be a battle of ultimate fighter runner ups. Both of these guys will be looking for a win in hopes of keeping their UFC career’s alive.

Montreal’s Mike Ricci was last seen as a cast member on the American version of the ultimate fighter. Inside the house, Ricci was perfect, postings wins over Dom Waters, Michael Hill and Neil Magny. Once officially part of the UFC, Ricci was outpointed by housemate Colton Smith in the season finale. Here, Ricci drops a weight class from the show, going back to his more natural weight class, lightweight.

Ricci’s opponent for the night is Ultimate Fighter Smashes runner up Colin Freakshow Fletcher. Like Ricci, the U.K. born Fletcher was perfect on the TV show, before losing at the finale.  The owner of an 8-2 record, Fletcher was on a four fight win streak before losing Robert Whittaker for the Smashes crown. Fletcher has seven career wins by submission.

Main Card

–          Welterweight Championship: Georges St Pierre © vs. Nick Diaz

–          Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks

–          Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt

–          Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Ring

–          Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher

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