Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to pull the trigger on its upcoming UFC 158 pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, headlined by a welterweight title fight that pits division champion Georges St. Pierre against top contender and former Strikeforce 170-pound titleholder Nick Diaz.
And it's about goddamn time.
We've had to sit through quite the dog-and-pony show over the last week and I don't know about you, but I've had enough of the theatrics, now it's time to fight.
WHERE YOU AT, GEORGES?
Right here, alongside his fellow welterweights Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks, who are each battling for the next crack at the division crown. Not far behind them is Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt, who may get bumped up in the pecking order now that Rory MacDonald has sabotaged himself.
There's a couple of other guys fighting on the main card, too, but this is the welterweight show, so they'll get their love in act two.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Sat., March 16, 2013), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FUEL TV.
Now, enough with the formalities ... let's get to the picks.
Nostradumbass predicts: Calling Nick Diaz the true number one contender is like calling Gary Cherone the true lead singer of Van Halen. GTFO. Diaz is in this fight because Johny Hendricks, for all his talent, can't sell a PPV. When you get a percentage of PPV buys like Georges St. Pierre does, you want an opponent who can move the needle.
And not having to worry about a huge left hand factors into the decision, I'm sure.
That's what makes this such an easy fight for St. Pierre. What's his biggest fear, getting slapped around for 25 minutes? Diaz has unorthodox boxing and extremely effective body shots, but outside of Josh Koscheck, when's the last time you saw GSP screw around on the feet?
St. Pierre scored 11 takedowns against Dan Hardy and 10 against Thiago Alves. Against Carlos Condit? Seven. If he wants to take this fight to the floor, he will, and if B.J. Penn can take Diaz down, "Rush" can do it all day (and will). This could even go down UFC 83-style.
Submissions, you say?
Puh-leeze. Georges is too strong and too active from the top. Remind me again, what grappling titles Diaz holds? It's one thing to slap a gogo on Takanori Gomi, but you need to have world class chops for me to believe you can sub St. Pierre off your back.
A place I expect Nick to spend 20 of the 25 minutes this contest will last.
In fact, re-watch the Diego Sanchez fight for a preview of how this will go down. I know all the cool kids are picking Diaz by some form of magical thugjitsu, but I'm neither cool nor a kid. I still can, however, "keep it real," which is why I'm picking St. Pierre by way of merciless mugging.
As much as you hate to hear it, you know it's true.
Final prediction: St. Pierre def. Diaz via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: I like that Johny Hendricks jumped at the chance to fight Carlos Condit, because he's a better fighter than his original foe, Jake Ellenberger. I know, "The Jugger-not" has been flapping his gums about it being the other way around but dude, you got put down by Martin Kampmann and then GSP'd your way to a safe win over Jay Hieron.
Might want to cool it with the tough talk until you're back in the running.
Anyway, Hendricks has inserted himself into a dangerous showdown because in my book, which no one has read and is mostly plagiarized, Condit is the better fighter. He can, however, lose tomorrow night if "Bigg Rigg" has a fight I.Q. that's on par with his power.
And he only needs to win two of the three rounds.
To that end, I expect him to be headhunting in the opening frame. Look for him to stalk "The Natural Born Killer" who is too intelligent and too experienced to fall victim to his opponent's looping left. In fact, the Greg Jackson-gameplan will be in full effect and he can win round one on points.
But can he win rounds two and three?
Hendricks has been hinting at busting out his secret weapon, which is his wrestling. This is not just an All-American or "good wrestler," this is an NCAA collegiate national champion. If he's kept the motor running since leaving school, I fully believe he'll employ it in the second and third rounds to wrestle his way to the scorecards.
Or, if he lets Condit lure him into a game of keep-away, then it's Hendricks who coughs up the decision. With so much on the line, I can't imagine Johny would be willing to take that chance against one of the craftier veterans in the game.
Final prediction: Hendricks def. Condit via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: Imagine if Nate Marquardt had his head screwed on straight? He'd easily be the number one contender in this division and he probably would have fared much better at middleweight, too. This is a guy who was submitting opponents with heel hooks back in 1999, before a lot of fans (and fighters) even knew what a heel hook was.
That's right around the same time Jake Ellenberger was in middle school.
"The Great" has some of the baddest finishes in the history of combat sports. His technical knockout win over Wilson Gouveia looked like something out of Mortal Kombat whereas his annihilation of Tyron Woodley would have found a home in Street Fighter.
And let's not forget when Demian Maia scored a 9.5 for his triple axel at UFC 102.
If I knew that's who I was getting, then this would be an easy pick. But I don't. Instead, I could end up with Nate "The Flake" Marquardt, who had a staring contest against Yushin Okami overseas, prompting Dana White to label him a "choker." And he didn't even show up against Tarec Saffiedine.
I just don't have any confidence in which fighter is going to arrive tomorrow night.
Ellenberger, on the other hand, outside of his aforementioned hiccup against "The Hitman," has been the model of consistency. Prior to his collapse against the great Dane, his only other loss was a razor-thin split decision against Carlos Condit back in late 2009.
I think he's versatile enough to get it done.
With 17 wins by way of knockout or technical knockout, Marquardt will have to be weary of the right hand. When he's not in danger of getting pasted, he runs the risk of getting taken down. His size may be the difference in whether or not he stays there, as will Ellenberger's cardio, but those takedowns score big points with the judges.
Enough to get Juggs the win after a fairly uneventful opening frame.
Final prediction: Ellenberger def. Marquardt via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: I guess it's too late to hope these guys get demoted to FX and we get Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker instead? Not that I have anything against these scrappy middleweights, but there's just something about seeing two castaways from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) on a major PPV card.
For all I know, they'll deliver "Fight of the Night" and make me eat my words (wouldn't be the first time).
I was browsing through FightMetric trying desperately to find something to write about this middleweight match-up that would actually be worth reading and hey, did you know Chris Camozzi has zero takedowns in eight UFC fights? Nick Ring has five, but they all came in one fight against James Head at UFC 131.
I'm guessing this one plays out on the feet.
If it does, I favor "Kamikaze," because he really impressed me in his UFC on FX 4 win over Nick Catone, following that up by cruising to a decision over Luiz Cane. "The Promise," meanwhile, couldn't get it done against Tim Boetsch and then got gifted a win against Court McGee.
I think his passive-aggressive offense costs him this fight.
I don't expect Camozzi to seal the deal, as Ring has coffee-house power, but I do anticipate he'll be the busier of the two and if "aggression and Octagon control" still mean something to the Canadian judges, he should take this one fairly convincingly.
Final prediction: Camozzi def. Ring via unanimous decision
Nostradumbass predicts: I know I was just whining about TUF contestants gracing the main card of a PPV, but at least in this fight, Both Colin Fletcher and Mike Ricci were in the live finale for their respective seasons. And if you're "The Martian," training at TriStar alongside you-know-who is likely to get you special consideration.
So who wins the UFC 158 curtain jerker?
I'm taking Ricci.
He was dominated by Colton Smith back in December but I think it's a different story now that he's at 155 pounds. It also helps that Fletcher, who is starting to look like "Sweet Tooth" from Twisted Metal, isn't the wrestler that Smith was.
He's also failed to secure a single win by way of knockout or technical knockout in 10 professional fights.
He's dangerous on the ground, as evidenced by his seven submissions, but I don't expect Ricci to fall into that trap in a three round fight and with no fear of getting pasted, he can sneak past that reach, beat up the "Freak Show" and sneak right back out.
Fletcher will try to get this thing south, but Ricci is athletic enough to keep it where he wants it and that's on the feet -- assuming he has no issues with his weight cut.
Final prediction: Ricci def. Fletcher via unanimous decision
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 158 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "St. Pierre vs. Diaz."
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.