Now this is a mixed martial arts (MMA) grudge match.
Following a dominant victory over Carlos Condit, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre has set his sights on the one man whose performance with which he is least impressed, former Strikeforce kingpin Nick Diaz. The 170-pound standouts will finally let their fists do the talking in the main event of UFC 158, which is scheduled to go down at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, this Saturday night (March 16, 2013).
St. Pierre and Diaz will be joined by several of their division's top talents when Carlos Condit and Nate Marquardt take on powerhouse wrestlers Johny Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger, respectively, on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card.
That's not all.
Of course, combat sports fans can look forward to seven "Prelims" matches to sate the Great White North's bloodlust before things get PPV crazy. We breakdown the the first three of the UFC 158 "Prelims" bouts, which will air on Facebook and YouTube, below:
170 lbs.: Rick Story vs. Quinn Mulhern
It seems like just yesterday that Rick Story (14-6) was the next big thing at welterweight, upsetting Dustin Hazelett, Hendricks and Thiago Alves sequentially as part of a six-fight win streak. Now, however, Story is 1-3 in his last four, losing decisions to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann before getting bits of his brain squeezed out of his head by Demian Maia.
"Horror" was originally slated to face local favorite Sean Pierson before the latter was forced to withdraw.
Quinn Mulhern (18-2) has long been one of welterweight’s top prospects, winning 10 of his last 11 fights. Most recently, he defeated the highly-touted Yuri Villefort in his fourth Strikeforce appearance, utilizing his stifling ground game to great effect.
The longtime King of the Cage standout stands three inches taller than Story.
Clearly, story isn’t the world-beater we thought he was; however, I’m not prepared to write him off as a fluke. He’s still aggressive, strong as an ox and insanely durable.
In short, not someone you want to fight in your debut ... especially not on short notice.
Mulhern is a highly-skilled fighter with much experience and impressive physical tools. He is not, however, the crafty and aggressive wrestler who has historically given Story fits. "The Horror’s" relentless grappling and endless cardio will save his job as he outmuscles and grinds down a game, but overmatched, Mulhern.
Prediction: Story by unanimous decision
While an ugly loss like T.J. Dillashaw ’s The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 Finale defeat to John Dodson can wreak havoc on a young fighter, Dillashaw took it in stride, crushing Walel Watson his second time out before neck cranking British submission specialist Vaughan Lee. Fighting out of Team Alpha Male, Dillashaw has been competing for less than three years, displaying impressive skills for his limited experience.
Krazy Bee’s Issei Tamura (7-3) was unable to capitalize on his second career knockout win, falling to the streaking Raphael Assuncao via second-round technical knockout at UFC on FUEL 4 back in July 2012. The Shooto standout was originally tabbed to face Canada’s Mitch Gagnon before injury forced Dillashaw to step in.
Now 2-3 in his last five, Tamura very likely needs a win to avoid going the way of countryman Motonobu Tezuka.
To be honest, I was really excited when the original Mitch Gagnon vs. Issei Tamura fight was announced. Having a soft spot for Japanese grinders, I was quite pleased that Tamura had a winnable fight on his plate. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly enthused when Gagnon bowed out and Dillashaw took his place.
Tamura has an absolutely suffocating top game, but against Dillashaw, that’s not a position he’s likely to find himself in often. Plus, while he has legitimate power, he’s stiff and awkward on the feet, making him easy prey for even Dillashaw's developing stand up. Tamura is strong, relentless, and nearly impossible to submit, but his wrestling doesn’t match up to Dillashaw’s, who will sprawl-and-brawl his way to a fairly uneventful unanimous decision.
Prediction: Dillashaw by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Reuben Duran vs. George Roop
Not everyone can bounce right back from a long layoff, and unfortunately for Reuben Duran (8-4-1), he had a power-punching Brazilian "Wolverine" waiting for him. Duran’s vicious knockout loss to Hugo Viana on TUF 16 Finale -- his first stoppage defeat since his debut -- puts his Zuffa record at 1-2.
With the UFC’s current hair-trigger for unemployment, he’ll need something special against George Roop (12-9-1) if he wants another go in the world’s largest fight promotion.
After a 1-3 stretch that saw him knocked out twice, the 6’1" Roop will return to Bantamweight for the first time since losing to Eddie Wineland in Jan. 2010. He has not competed since getting blasted by Cub Swanson two Januaries ago, a UFC 149 bout with Antonio Carvalho and a January fight with Yuri Alcantara getting nixed by injury.
Like Duran, the chopping block looms large in Roop’s future if he can’t pull off another impressive stoppage.
It’s not the absolute slaughter that Roop vs. Alcantara would have been, but I just can’t imagine this ending well for Roop. He was drawn-out already at Featherweight, meaning that cutting 10 more pounds will do nothing but hurt him. He’s never been fast or all that strong, two huge disadvantages, and a seven-inch height advantage isn’t worth much when he is staggeringly inconsistent in actually using that length.
"Wolverine" wipeout notwithstanding, Duran is a quick, well-rounded 135-pound fighter. Expect him to fluster an increasingly-tired Roop with his speed before stopping him in unpleasant fashion late in the second stanza.
Prediction: Duran by second-round technical knockout
There are four more UFC 158 "Prelims" battles in store at the Bell Center before the PPV main card gets started. You can watch them on FX this Saturday and read breakdowns of them on MMAmania tomorrow.
See you then, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 158 PPV main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.