Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre will finally make his return to the Octagon after nearly 18 months on the sidelines with a bum knee. Standing across from him in the main event of UFC 154, which goes down tomorrow night (Nov. 17, 2012) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is Interim division titleholder Carlos Condit.
"The Natural Born Killer" could be (and become) the most hated man in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), but more on that later.
In the co-main event of the evening, Martin Kampmann will try to get his first crack at the division crown by taking on Johny Hendricks, who like "The Hitman," wants to get his hands on 170 pounds of gold with a career performance in "The City of Saints."
There can only be one.
A bunch of other guys are fighting, too, but they don't have enough star power to make my intro and the only two fights that mean anything, at least in the short term, have already been discussed, so let's get down to business, shall we?
170 lbs.: Georges St. Pierre (22-2) vs. Carlos Condit (28-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: Well, I guess I should go ahead and change my Email address, since I know I'll be getting bombed by the St. Pierre sack-straddlers, who will eviscerate me for daring to press a single key in defiance of his almighty greatness.
I'm not a hater, I just write a lot. And in doing so, I acquire an assortment of facts. Should I let the aura of GSP cloud reality? This is a fighter coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, the kind of surgery that has been known to end careers.
Kinda puts a big question mark on that whole wrestling thing.
He's also been out of the cage for nearly 18 months (oh, hello ring rust) and are you ready for the kicker? He wasn't exactly blowing the doors off the Octagon before he left. Sure, he was winning, but look at what Anderson Silva and Jon Jones have been doing to people and then compare that to St. Pierre's "run."
"Rush" hasn't had a finish since he walloped a bloated lightweight all the way back in 2009 and in his last fight, he was actually outstruck by Jake Shields, whose stand-up looks like an audition for season four of The Walking Dead. Think about that, Shields threw -- and landed -- more total strikes than St. Pierre at UFC 129 and won two of the five rounds.
If you still blame that on an eye poke, then you're in serious trouble this weekend.
I've actually heard fans, including our own Tom Myers, pick against Condit (who is 13-1 over the last six years) because they're angry about the way he fought against Nick Diaz. "The Natural Born Killer" neutralized his opponent's offense, stayed out of danger and rode out the clock.
In other words, he did what St. Pierre has done in his last four fights. Boo that man!
Condit hits hard and is a well-rounded combatant, though I still think "Rush" is the more talented martial artist. Unfortunately, he's struggled in the past with the mental aspect of the fight game and his trips to the sports psychologist are well-documented.
Vote of no confidence!
There are just too many unknowns for me to believe his wrestling (or jab of doom) will prevail. I think the pressure of fighting at home, coupled with ring rust and worrying about his knee -- not to mention the shadow of an Anderson Silva "super fight" -- will finally catch up to him.
All it will take is one missed takedown.
Final prediction: Condit def. St. Pierre via split decision
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks (13-1) vs. Martin Kampmann (20-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: Martin Kampmann is getting smoked like a Newport 100. Pains me to say it, because he's an exceptional fighter. Unfortunately, his fight I.Q. is in the single digits. Case in point: Paul Daley hits like a medieval battering ram, yet has the ground game of a newborn calf. Kampy's gameplan?
Similarly, he was fighting Jake Shields at UFC 121 and lit him up like the eighth day of Hanukkah. So what did he do when the jiu-jitsu wizard was on queer street? Take him down! "The Hitman" has been known to pull some Scott Smith-worthy comebacks, like he did against Thiago Alves earlier this year, but there's a finite number of times you can get away with that before you take a nap.
Like tomorrow night.
Hendricks isn't the better striker, nor is he the better grappler. The good news is, he doesn't need to be. All he has to do is use his exceptional wrestling (two-time NCAA Division I national champion) to keep himself off the ground before unleashing the fury
And "Bigg Rigg" has power.
Just ask Jon Fitch. That wouldn't be enough in most cases, but I already read an interview where Kampmann stated he wasn't afraid to get chin-checked by his former training partner. That made me a sad Manda. If nothing else, maybe Hendricks' knockout punch will finally knock some sense into him.
Final prediction: Hendricks def. Kampmann via knockout
185 lbs.: Tom Lawlor (8-4) vs. Francis Carmont (19-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: Holy shit, this guy is scary. Ya know, for a Frenchman. Francis Carmont is huge at 75 inches tall and is as strong as an ox. He's also won eight in a row, including three straight inside the Octagon. So why the caution in my tone?
Can't quite put my finger on it.
There's an air of uncertainty in his performances. Like the Karlos Vemola fight this past July, for example. At times he looked brilliant, while other times, befuddled. It's almost like he's making it up as he goes along, if that makes any sense.
Not that I think he loses in Montreal.
The elite will capitalize on his mistakes, but Tom Lawlor? Not so much. That's not to suggest he's a pushover. The "Flithy" one has a few tricks up his sleeve, showing power against Jason MacDonald and jits against C.B. Dollaway. What he hasn't show is any sort of consistency.
Tomorrow will be no exception.
A close first round would not surprise me, but once "Limitless" gets comfortable inside the cage, this thing could get ugly. Look for Lawlor to get clocked and rocked midway through the second, where he eventually falls victim to a rear naked choke.
Final prediction: Carmont def. Lawlor via submission
185 lbs.: Constantinos Philippou (11-2) vs. Nick Ring (13-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I'm picking Constantinos Philippou just because his last name is pronounced "full of poo," which is usually what these predictions are, so I feel a certain kinship with the Serra-Longo slugger, even though he would probably spit on me for such an association.
It's better than being called the "Promise" Ring.
I do respect the former TUF guy because he wiped out a Starbucks gang without spilling his coffee, but he takes way too much punishment inside the cage. That's bad news against Philippou, who not only hits hard, but doesn't get taken down very often.
Keep that chin tucked!
In addition, Ring's victories against Fukuda and McGee were nothing to write home about. I understand a win is a win, but compared to the effort in which his opponent has been giving in each of his previous bouts (see Hamman, Jared), it's hard not to imagine this turning into a one-sided affair.
Final prediction: Philippou def. Ring via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Mark Hominick (20-11) vs. Pablo Garza (11--3)
Nostradumbass predicts: Combined, Mark Hominick and Pablo Garza have lost five in a row. So what the hell are they doing on the main card of a major pay-per-view? Oh right, Hommy's Canadian, never mind then. "The Hitman" just can't seem to get it together.
I don't blame him.
While he's lost three straight, I'm not sure he's ever fully recovered from the death of Shawn Tompkins. His only saving grace is that Garza has been equally putrid in recent months. This is the same guy who pasted Fredson Paixao and pulled off that crazy flying triangle against Yves Jabouin?
Hard to believe.
On paper, Hominick has the striking advantage, but "The Scarecrow" hasn't been knocked out in 14 professional fights. He's been submitted twice and "The Machine" has tapped his share of opponents, so it really boils down to where his head's at.
I'm taking Hommy.
Garza is tall and lanky and susceptible to leg kicks, which can be thrown without consequence. If Hominick can avoid brawling and make it a technical stand-up battle, I believe he breaks the curse and cruises to a sweep on the judges scorecards.
Final prediction: Hominick def. Garza 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 154 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "St. Pierre 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's event.