UFC 143 predictions, preview and analysis

Nostradumbass

Don't make plans, homie.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) already has you booked for its UFC 143: "Diaz vs. Condit" pay-per-view (PPV) event this Saturday night (Feb. 4, 2012) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What makes this one special?

Well, for starters, it's going to finish the night with a 170-pound champion not named Georges St. Pierre, as Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit battle for the Interim belt in the Canadian's absence.

Also getting their groove back are a pair of grappling studs in the form of Fabricio Werdum and Roy Nelson. These two should neutralize each other on the ground, but after seeing what Frank Mir was able to do to fellow jiu-jitsu master Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, all bets are off when heavyweight grapplers end up on the mat.

If that doesn't do it for you, then be sure to stick around for the Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce match-up. There's only room for one trash-talking welterweight 'round these parts and one of these two rugged wrestlers gots ta' go.

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., Feb. 4), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. The latest quick updates of the preliminary card action will begin to flow earlier than that around 7 p.m. ET.

We know who's fighting and we know when to tune in. But do we know who's going to win? Not yet. But that shouldn't stop us from taking our best guess.

See you after the jump.

170 lbs.: Nick Diaz (26-7) vs. Carlos Condit (27-5)

Nostradumbass predicts: In the interest of a fair and balanced breakdown, which is the staple of every Nostradumbass column (cough), I've been trying like hell to build a convincing case for Carlos Condit in his main event fight against Nick Diaz.

So far, I've got nothing.

Can "The Natural Born Killer" knock Diaz out? Paul Daley punched him in the face as hard as he could and still ended up losing the fight. Can Condit submit him? If 33 other people couldn't do it, I can't imagine he can, either. So if he can't knock him out and he can't submit him, then he has to win a decision.

Right.

This is a guy who threw 436 total strikes against B.J. Penn. Think about that for a second. Think of the volume of offense it takes to accomplish that in just three rounds. Beat this kid on the scorecards? Not if it's standing.

That leads me to the one weakness in the Diaz armor: The takedown.

In order to get Diaz to the floor and keep him there without getting strangled, you need to have good wrestling and a smothering top game. You can't just lay in guard and throw intermittent punches. That's why Georges St. Pierre had, in my opinion, such a distinct advantage over Diaz.

Not Condit.

He's excelled in this division and really, outside of a razor-thin loss to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut, his record is impeccable.

He may not be inferior to Diaz talent-wise, but this just looks (on paper) to be a bad match-up. Condit is too tough to finish and he'll keep it competitive, but at the end of the day, Diaz just does too much, too often, to be denied by the judges and their scorecards.

Prediction: Diaz def. Condit via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) vs. Roy Nelson (16-6)

Nostradumbass predicts: Two veteran heavyweight fighters, each with an amazing ground game. What should we expect? Well, if history has taught us anything, probably three rounds of sloppy kickboxing.

Seriously, if all these guys do on Saturday night is try to bang it out and keep from gassing, I might have to give up on mixed martial arts (MMA) altogether.

I know some of you are thinking "Gee Nostradumbass, these guys kinda cancel each other out on the ground, so they will try to get an edge on the feet." My answer to that, Mr. know-it-all, is that they also cancel each other out on the feet, because they're both terrible boxers.

Roy Nelson has power, no question, he's put his fair share of guys on their butts. And Fabricio Werdum has serviceable Muay Thai that can usually do enough to win a fight when need be. But let's not kid ourselves, either one of these guys would get lit up in a K-1 or Muay Thai bout overseas, so let's just deal with it.

It's not outrageous, based on accolades alone, to call Werdum the superior grappler. But the gap between him and Nelson, if one exists, is not significant enough to give him any kind of advantage if they head south for the winter. I do hope it happens because a chess match on the ground sure beats the alternative.

I have concerns about conditioning for both fighters and if this plays out on the feet like I predict, I'm going to give it to "Vai Cavalo" for being the busier fighter. "Big Country" will probably waste too much time and eat too many punches (pun intended) looking for the knockout blow.

Prediction: Werdum def. Nelson via split decision

170 lbs.: Josh Koscheck (16-5) vs. Mike Pierce (13-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: This is Josh Koscheck's fight to lose. He's the more accomplished wrestler, has more experience on the big stage and has already faced the best the division has to offer.

Unfortunately, he can also be his own worst enemy.

You know, like heading into a fight against Paulo Thiago and not feeling the need to watch any film on his opponent. Or trying to see how many leg kicks he can absorb from Thiago Alves. If his ego doesn't get in the way, he probably wins this fight.

Probably.

One thing about Pierce, he's tough as nails. He had Jon Fitch in a world of trouble in the third round of their bout back at UFC 107 and Johny Hendricks barely squeaked past him with a split decision. He's strong, can take big shots and has no problem doing a busy three rounds.

"Kos" needs to be firing on all cylinders for this one, keeping the pressure on and not allowing Pierce to get any kind of reprieve. I believe his blase attitude heading into this fight is nothing more than a poker face -- and don't think for a second watching Fitch get pasted last month wasn't a wake up call.

There's some new blood in this division and they aren't going away quietly. Koscheck; however, plays the right notes on Saturday night and lives to fight another day.

For now.

Prediction: Koscheck def. Pierce via unanimous decision.

135 lbs.: Renan Barao (27-1) vs. Scott Jorgensen (13-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: Renan Pegado is 27-1. His only loss? A unanimous decision in his professional debut way back in 2005. That means he's won 27 straight fights across six-and-a-half years with 19 finishes.

There are two schools of thought here.

The first is "Well, it's easy to win 27 fights when you don't fight anyone good." The second is "It doesn't matter who you're fighting, in a sport as unpredictable as MMA, 27 wins in a row is impressive."

I'm leaning towards the latter, probably because his list of opponents is not populated with cans and dreamers. He's defeated some legitimately tough dudes. But I'm also not ready to anoint him the second coming despite what he did to Brad Pickett.

Enter Scott Jorgensen.

This is the kind of test that will prove whether or not he's the real deal. "Young Guns" has the level of wrestling that can derail any hype train and it was good enough to earn him a shot against Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight title.

Can "Barao" stop the takedown and make mince meat out of Jorgy?

I believe he can. It's a tough sell pre-fight, but I'm on board with this kid. I think he's exceptionally talented and too well rounded to lose on Saturday night.

If he can stop the takedown and finish Jorgensen, who's never been knocked out and only has one submission loss (from way back in 2006), expect the upper echelon of this division to be looking over their shoulder.

Prediction: Pegado def. Jorgensen via submission

185 lbs.: Ed Herman (19-8) vs. Clifford Starks (8-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: Don't look now, but here comes Ed Herman.

A lot of people, present company included, had written this guy off after an abysmal 1-3 stretch that saw him end with a grisly knee injury that kept him riding the pine for almost two years.

Then he came back and beat the brakes off Tim Credeur.

It was a feel-good victory, coming off the injury, but then he let it be known he was here to stay with a highlight-reel submission over Kyle Noke, an inverted heel hook that would have made Rousimar Palhares proud.

What's he up against in "Sin City?"

Well, for starters, Starks is undefeated. I don't want to go crazy over not losing because in the grand scheme of things, it's only eight fights and a couple of his opponents only had one or two bouts to their name when they faced him.

His UFC debut was a unanimous decision win over Dustin Jacoby and while he's getting good press from those around him, it's hard to pick him against Herman, who has triple the experience and faced some of the division's best fighters.

Is "Short Fuse" a few wins away from being "in the mix?"

Probably not, but he's got the tools and the talent to get it done on fight night. His submissions are vastly underrated and I think he dazzles us again with a second round sleeper.

Prediction: Herman def. Starks via submission

That's a wrap, folks.

For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC 143 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Diaz vs. Condit."

What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.

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