UFC 158 “St-Pierre vs. Diaz” Prelims preview

March 12, 2013

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UFC 158 “St-Pierre vs. Diaz” Prelims preview



John Boldrick – Turing to the preliminary card, we see that several Canadians are in action. Additionally, there are three UFC debuts as well as two fighters who will try out new divisions. Sportnet and FX will be home to four prelim fights, which we get three free fights on Facebook. Originally, Yves Jabouin was set to compete against Johnny Eduardo, but Eduardo pulled out of the bout on March 6, citing a shoulder injury.

In a featured Prelim, Rimouski’s Patrick Cote returns to the octagon, but this time it will be a smaller Cote than ever before. Originally scheduled to face Alessio Sakara in a rematch from UFC 154, Sakara was forced to bow out with kidney problems. Cote next announced he was dropping to Welterweight, and is set to debut in his new weight class.

It’s been an up and down career for Cote. Outside the UFC, Cote is a perfect 13-0. Inside the walls of the octagon, the Quebecer is  5-8. If you discount his previous win over Sakara (it was a victory by DQ, although there have been complaints about the outcome), Cote’s last UFC win was in 2008 against Ricardo Almeida. In fact, Cote’s only win over an opponent still in the UFC was the aforementioned Sakara win.

His opponent for the night will be the debuting Bobby Voelker. Voelker comes over as part of the group of Strikeforce fighters being absorbed into the UFC. The 33 year-old  makes his debut on the strength of a 3 fight win streak, including two in a row over Roger Bowling. In 32 pro fights, Voelker has only been knocked out twice, while delivering 15 (T)KO shots of his own. This will be Voelker’s first ever fight outside of the United States.

When you hear the words “consistency” and “durability”, one of the main fighters to come to mind is Darren Elkins. A member of the UFC for three years, Elkins has racked up a 5-1 record, including a four fight win streak. While he may not get as much credit as some of the other fighters in the featherweight division, Elkins has quietly made his case for a fight against top competition.

Over his last four wins, Elkins has downed the likes of Steven Siler, Diego Brandao and Michihiro Omigawa. The Brandao fight was particularly impressive, as Elkins was able to survive an early onslaught from his overly aggressive foe and win the last two rounds for the decision win.

His opponent for the event is none other than Oshawa’s Antonio Carvalho. A veteran of the Japan circuit, as well as a competitor on the first Score Fighting Series card, Carvalho showed some octagon jitters in his first UFC appearance at UFC 142. Those jitters quickly faded away, as he KO’ed Daniel Pineda this past summer in Calgary. Last time out, Carvalho took a split decision from Rodrigo Damm at UFC 152.

The owner of a BJJ black belt, Carvalho may have to rely on his bottom game in this one. Elkins is known as a strong wrestle, with win in his current four fight streak coming by way of decision.

Making his UFC debut on the card will be one very promising young Canadian fighter. 23 year-old Jordan Mein steps into the octagon for the first time on Saturday, although it’s far from his first fight. Mein has already accumulated 34 pro fights in his career and has fought for promotions such as Strikeforce, Score Fighting Series, TKO and Rumble in the cage. He holds wins name fighters Forrest Petz, Cyborg Santos and Josh Burkman. Mein would like to see his ZUFFA record climb, as he is currently 2-1 under the banner.

Mein’s debut won’t be an easy one, as he stands across the cage from tough veteran Dan Miller. Last year saw Miller drop to welterweight after fighting his whole career a weight class above. Miller defeated Ricardo Funch by submission in his inaugural bout, but had some trouble along the way. The win snapped a two fight losing skid for Miller, who had not won since the UFC was in Montreal for UFC 124.

The first televised prelim of the night sees a battle between two highly talented strikers. Canadian John Makdessi returns to the octagon to take on former Ultimate Fighter competitor Daron Cruickshank.

Last time out, the Halifax native Makdessi picked up the biggest win of his career, winning a decision over Sam Stout at UFC 154. It was likely a win that saved the talented kickboxer’s job, as prior to that he has lost two straight. The win improved his UFC record to 3-2 and kept his job safe.  Some have thought that a drop in weight may be around the corner. Makdessi only cuts two pounds to make the 155 pound division, but has that the two pound cut is very hard. Here, he will look to make it two in a row at lightweight.

Makdessi faces off with almost Canadian Cruickshank. A native of Michigan, Cruickshank has shown to his ability to really mix it up in the UFC. In his debut against Chris Tickle, Cruickshank showed everyone his wrestling and ground credentials, taking home the decision win. In his last fight against Henry Martinez, Cruickshank showed everyone what he had in his standup bag of tricks. Cruickshank battered Martinez for over a round before finally finishing his opponent with a head kick. Make no mistake about it, this one could be a war.

While he has fallen off a bit, Rick Story is still a quality fighter. Here, he headlines the Facebook portion of the card. Since his signature win over Thiago Alves all the way back at UFC 130, Story has gone 1-3 with losses to Martin Kampmann and Demain Maia along the way. His only win over the time frame came in the form of a dominate performance over Brock Jardine. This will be Story’s first fight on Facebook and his first fight not scheduled to be televised since UFC 117 back in August 2010. Safe to say Story needs a victory here.

Story’s original opponent for the card was former Toronto police officer Sean Pierson. Pierson was forced out of the bout and the UFC found a replacement for the bout in Quinn Mulhern. Mulhern makes his way to the UFC after a four fight stint in Strikeforce. He went 3-1 during his time there. With an Overall record of 18-2, including 11 submissions, look for Mulhern to be most comfortable on the ground in this one. It could easily be a loser gets cut fight, so each fighter will be looking to make an impact.

Sudbury’s Mitch Gagnon was signed to compete on the card. An injury forced him off the card and he was replaced by TJ Dillashaw. A former Ultimate Fighter finalist, Dillishaw has really found a place for himself training with the likes of Urijah Faber and Joe Benavidez at Team Alpha Male. Since his loss to John Dodson, Dillashaw has gone 2-0. He looked dominant in his victory over Walel Watson, effectively grounding the standup fighters and wearing on him the whole fight. Last time out, Dillashaw subbed Vaughan Lee in a just over two and a half minutes, showing his continued growth.

He squares off with Japanese star Issei Tamura. While it may have looked as though Tamura was brought into the UFC to loss to Tiequan Zhang, nobody told Tamura that. Tamura knocked Zhang out in the second round of his UFC debut and showed the world that he is not to be taken lightly. Last time out, Tamura was involved in another KO, although this time he was on the other end. Tamura was knocked out last time we saw him, losing to Raphael Assuncao. Tamura may need a win or a gutsy performance here to keep his job.

George Roop is a man without a division. Having competed everywhere from Welterweight to featherweight, Roop will fight at 135 pounds on Saturday. Yes, a 6’1 bantamweight. While Roop has fought at the weight before, this will be the first time in the UFC. The owner of a less than stellar 12-9 record, Roop has been able to hang around so long because he puts on exciting fights and really does quite well in his losses. He’s 2-3 in his past five, but arguably beat Hatsu Hioki in their matchup. While he hasn’t always been successful, no one can say he doesn’t always come to fight.

In what will be a rather quick turnaround for someone that was just knocked out, Roop will face Reuben Duran on Saturday. Last time out, Duran was knocked out by Hugo Viana at The Ultimate Fighter finale in December. Duran’s biggest UFC success was one fight before that, where he choked out Fancisco Rivera in the third round of their fight, taking home fight of the night. Duran seems partial to the finish, as seven of his eight wins have come by (T)KO or submission. Conversely, his opponent has an almost equal number of KO, submission and decision victories.

 

FX/Sportnet Prelims

–          Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker

–          Darren Elkins vs. Antonio Carvalho

–          Dan Miller vs. Jordan Mein

–          Daron Cruickshank vs. John Makdessi

Facebook Prelims

–          Rick Story vs. Quinn Mulhern

–          T.J. Dillashaw vs. Issei Tamura

–          George Roop vs. Reuben Duran

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