Eight sportsnet.ca MMA contributors give their picks for Saturday’s UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz main card in Montreal.
GEORGES ST-PIERRE vs. NICK DIAZ
Adam Martin: St-Pierre, TKO, Round 4. GSP will defend his title for the eighth-consecutive time by defeating Diaz in the main event of UFC 158. St-Pierre will use his takedowns to take the fight to the floor, beat Diaz up, and eventually finish him with a brutal combination of elbows and punches from a dominant position to once again defend his belt.
Carlin Bardsley: St-Pierre, TKO, Round 4. The last time we saw GSP this angry, he finished off BJ Penn. With his superior wrestling and Diaz’s lack of takedown defence, this fight looks to go down much the same way.
Brad Taschuk: St-Pierre, Decision. Despite all his attempts to rile Georges up, Diaz won’t affect the champion’s gameplan once the two get in the cage. That means he’s likely to be put on his back repeatedly en route to a decision loss.
Dwight Wakabayashi: St-Pierre, Decision. Diaz won’t be able to stop the take down and GSP does his thing for the win again.
Ryan Young: St-Pierre, unanimous decision. For all of the hype behind this one it really shouldn’t be that competitive. I’m tempted to say St-Pierre is ticked off enough to ground and pound his way to a TKO but GSP by decision is one of the safest bets in the business.
Spencer Kyte: St-Pierre, TKO, Round 3. Nobody stops GSP’s takedown, and as solid as Diaz is on the ground, it’s not like he’s submitted anyone with the kind of top control St-Pierre possesses. Add in Diaz’s history of cuts/bleeding/scar tissue and I think we have the makings of a St-Pierre finish via ground-and-pound.
James Brydon: St-Pierre, TKO, Round 4. St-Pierre is the smartest fighter out there and he won’t get sucked into a bad gameplan. At the same time, he’s highly motivated and will overwhelm Diaz in the late rounds and use those dreaded elbows to earn a stoppage.
Mike Johnston: St-Pierre, TKO, Round 4. By all accounts this should be the best GSP we’ve seen. Diaz’s aggressive, wide open style will surely bring the best out in the champ and after a generous helping of ground-and-pound, the ref will say enough is enough, perhaps due to a cut.
CARLOS CONDIT vs. JOHNY HENDRICKS
Adam Martin: Hendricks, Decision. A close fight to call, but I think Hendricks has just way too much momentum behind him right now and he has too much to lose if he doesn’t win. Hendricks will do anything and everything he can to pick up the W and finally get that illusive title shot against GSP.
Carlin Bardsley: Hendricks, Decision. Condit will spend most of the fight looking to avoid Hendricks’ huge left hand and will find himself being outgrappled as a result. Hendricks, despite having to trim his beard, will finally get his title shot.
Brad Taschuk: Condit, Decision. This is the hardest fight on the card to call for me. Hendricks has the two biggest weapons in his left hand and wrestling, but Condit’s tireless gas tank and well-rounded skills could carry him to victory.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Condit, Decision. The Hendricks train stops here. Condit is too smart and his reach will be the difference.
Ryan Young: Condit, unanimous decision. Hendricks has earned the favourite status here but Condit is a bad match up for him. If Condit fights the same way as he did against Nick
Diaz it’s going to be hard for the much shorter and compact Hendricks to touch his chin. Even if he does find it, Condit is tough as nails.
Spencer Kyte: Condit, unanimous decision. There’s a good chance Johny Hendricks drops Condit the same way he did Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, but I’m siding with Condit here. He’s dangerous off his back, moves well, uses his length, and mixes things up tremendously with his striking. He just has more weapons and more ways to win than Hendricks… I think.
James Brydon: Condit, unanimous decision. Condit is easily the best welterweight not named St-Pierre in my opinion. As much as his takedown defence leaves a little to be desired, Hendricks’ double leg isn’t as good as St-Pierre’s and he’ll find it tough to stop Condit.
Mike Johnston: Condit, decision. The former WEC champ has been unceremoniously overlooked heading into this bout. Too much stock is being put into how Hendricks beat Fitch and Kampmann. Condit’s well-rounded skill set will prevail in a similar fashion to how he beat Jake Ellenberger.
JAKE ELLENBERGER vs. NATE MARQUARDT
Adam Martin: Marquardt, KO, Round 2. A tough matchup to predict, but ultimately Marquardt’s experience is going to help him out greatly as he takes this fight into the deep waters, finishing Ellenberger with a highlight-reel KO late in the second.
Carlin Bardsley: Ellenberger, TKO, Round 1. Look for “The Juggernaut” to tag Marquardt early and spoil Nate The Great’s UFC return.
Brad Taschuk: Ellenberger, TKO, Round 1. Marquardt has all the skills to win this fight, but his defence and inactivity won’t allow him to. Ellenberger could either land early and end it, or could pace himself as he did against Hieron and take a decision.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Ellenberger, TKO, Round 2. Ellenberger has a revived hunger to be a contender and Marquardt’s best days are behind him
Ryan Young: Ellenberger, unanimous decision: Hardest fight to predict for me as both have looked great and mediocre at times recently. Ellenberger is the better grappler and has more power so he may be able dictate the pace and control the centre of the Octagon.
Spencer Kyte: Marquardt, TKO, Round 2. This was a tough pick because Marquardt looked so flat against Tarec Saffiedine, but he’s a bad match-up for Ellenberger. He’s a clean, straight-ahead striker, and massive for the division, so getting taken down isn’t a major concern. He’s inconsistent, but I’m counting on this being a bounce-back performance.
James Brydon: Ellenberger, TKO, Round 1. Ellenberger has been on a tear, apart from a mulligan against Kampmann, and it seems like Marquardt has lost a bit of a step. I just don’t like the matchup here for the former middleweight No. 1 contender.
Mike Johnston: Marquardt, decision. This is a toss-up. Marquardt speed and footwork could end up being the difference. Ellenberger doesn’t mix up his attack enough to put Marquardt in danger.
NICK RING vs. CHRIS CAMOZZI
Adam Martin: Ring, Decision. Ring is known for winning close decisions, and this fight against Camozzi should be more of the same as Ring picks up a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecard.
Carlin Bardsley: Camozzi, Decision. Camozzi will keep the pressure on Ring and keep him out of his comfort zone. Despite having two wonky decision wins in the UFC, Ring won’t get a third.
Brad Taschuk: Ring, Submission, Round 1. Camozzi may be on a three-fight winning streak and Ring may have benefitted from some generous decisions in the past, but the Canadian is the more skilled fighter, especially when it comes to grappling.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Camozzi, Decision. Camozzi is on a roll right now and Ring will be a bit rusty, and that will be the difference here
Ryan Young: Ring, unanimous decision. You can expect a couple of things from Camozzi; 1) he’s going to get hit, and 2) he won’t stay down. They’re both going to get their shots in but I foresee Ring scoring a couple more points in the stand-up. Mix that in with the home country judging and that should be good enough.
Spencer Kyte: Camozzi, unanimous decision. I’m not sure why so many people think Ring is such a lock. Two of his three UFC wins are seriously debatable decisions, and the other came over James Head, who is now down at welterweight. Camozzi has heavy strikes and improving takedown defence. I see him keeping it standing for the majority of the fight, out-working Ring, and winning a decision.
James Brydon: Ring, split decision. Say what you will about judges, but the talented Canadian fights in such a way that has them thinking he’s doing enough to earn the victory. And this weekend he’s at home and getting a mulligan after his unfortunate bout with the flu at the last Montreal show, so I see him getting the nod here too.
Mike Johnston: Ring, decision. Camozzi is a striker similar Ring’s past opponents Court McGee and Riki Fukuda. Ring told me he expects a similar type fight to those two bouts and I expect a similar result.
MIEK RICCI vs. COLIN FLETCHER
Adam Martin: Ricci, KO, Round 2. Ricci is dropping to his natural weight class of 155 pound and is fighting in front of his hometown in Montreal, which is sure to provide him with extra motivation. He’ll score a knockout over Fletcher and prove to everyone he is a future star in the lightweight division.
Carlin Bardsley: Ricci, TKO, Round 2. Ricci will pick Fletcher apart on the feet and show that he is a better fit at his natural weight class of 155. But the good news for Fletcher is that Ricci won’t make him any uglier.
Brad Taschuk: Ricci, TKO, Round 2. The UFC seems to be setting Ricci up for success in his hometown and at his natural weight. Fletcher is the better grappler, but he has no way to take the fight to the ground and will likely get battered on the feet.
Dwight Wakabayashi: Ricci, Decision. I think Ricci will bounce back and look more like himself in front of his home fans. His all around game will get him the decision.
Ryan Young: Ricci, unanimous decision. Fletcher’s height and length provides some unique
Spencer Kyte: Ricci, TKO, Round 1. I have a feeling Ricci has one of the best performances of the night, and shows people why the UFC has opted to give him a second chance at his natural weight class after his sluggish outing in the TUF Finale. Takedown, elbows, celebration.
James Brydon: Ricci, TKO, Round 3. The latest Tristar product has great skills and should have the hometown energy to help him make up for a frustrating loss in his official UFC debut.
Mike Johnston: Ricci, decision. He told me fans will see a different fighter than the one that lost in the finals of TUF 16. Ricci at 155 pounds should be able to overpower Fletcher on the ground if he chooses and keep pace with him standing as well.