UFC 154: St-Pierre vs. Condit is set to go down Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal
Here is a preview of Saturday’s main card.
Mark Hominick (20-11) vs. Pablo Garza (11-3) – featherweight
This fight is a battle between two men who need a win badly as Hominick has lost his last three and Garza two. Their styles are very different and it will be a battle of will to see who can dictate where this fight plays out.
Garza is extremely tall and lanky for a 145-pound fighter and he can find a submission opportunity as fast as anyone in the division. Hominick is one of the most technically sound fighters in the division, and will look to start fast and work his footwork and speed to target Garza’s body and break him down for the finish.
The winner here saves his roster spot, and puts himself on the right path for a division climb in 2013.
Nick Ring (13-1) vs. Costa Philippou (11-2) – middleweight
After suffering a loss in his UFC debut, Philippou is on a four-fight win streak and is a very tough opponent for Calgary’s Nick Ring. He brings power, pressure and a fearless approach to the cage, and is technical all at the same time. The 32-year-old Serra-trained fighter out of New York has wins over Jorge Rivera, Jared Hamman, Court McGee and Riki Fukuda on his current run. Ring is also coming off a very close win over McGee, and will use his experience and all-around game to keep Philippou at bay. Ring is more of a threat to submit you than he is to knock you out, and he may want to take this one to the ground as his key to victory.
The winner here jumps up in the division and sets himself up for the biggest name fight of his career.
Francis Carmont (19-7) vs. Tom Lawlor (8-4) – middleweight
French fighter Francis Carmont was looking for a big step-up in competition after his last win over Karlos Vemola and he got what he asked for in Filthy Tom Lawlor. Carmont has incredible strength, athleticism and technique with two of his three UFC wins coming by submission. Carmont sacrificed a lot to pick up his life in France and move to Canada to train. The move has clearly paid off for Carmont, and the Canadian fans have adopted him as their own. Despite only 12 fights in his career, Lawlor has more top-level experience than Carmont, and will need every tool he has in his belt to get the win
The winner here instantly becomes a middleweight contender.
Martin Kampmann (20-5) vs. Johny Hendricks (13-1) – welterweight
This is an excellent match-up that could very well determine the next No. 1 contender to the welterweight title. Kampmann is one of toughest and most exciting fighters in the world. His striking has always been at the very top of the food chain and he can hang on the ground as well.
More than his skill and tools, Kampmann is as tough as they come and one of the hardest fighters to put away. His thrilling win over Jake Ellenberger is the perfect example of that. The deeper this fight goes, the more it will swing in Kampmann’s favor. Hendricks is a top-level wrestler with big-time power in his hands, and he will look to use both of those tools to dictate the fight. He is also a bit crazy like that and we will see if he is indeed as tough as Kampmann.
The winner should get a title shot early in 2013.
Georges St-Pierre (22-2) vs. Carlos Condit (28-5) – welterweight
This fight is to declare the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. In one of the most anticipated comebacks in UFC history, GSP will return to action after 18 months away. It is no secret the awesome game that GSP brings to the cage, the question is, will he be able to bring it at that level after reconstructive knee surgery and all that time away. He will need to shake off the rust awfully fast and get fully up to speed vs. Condit, or it could be a short night for the champion. His wrestling and top game is the best advantage he has against the interim champ, and look for him to go to it right away in this one.
Condit is a fearless and hungry champion in his own right, and very much on the level of GSP. His stand-up is unpredictable, dangerous and he is fully capable of finishing the fight in a flash. He beat Nick Diaz with range and strikes to get this shot at the undisputed title, and look for him to try to keep that range and distance here as well. If he does end up on the bottom against GSP, he will continue to look for offence so there should be no lulls in this one.
The winner here is the undisputed best in world at 170 pounds.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.