GSP-Diaz is a fight that MMA fans have wanted for years, and it will finally happen on Saturday night (Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
UFC 158 is upon us, and I have never been looking more forward to a fight than this the main event on this card: GSP vs Diaz. Two years of pure hatred locked in a cage for 25 minutes. It’s not just a night for the welterweight championship, but it’s a night for all welterweights to make a move. The two fights below the main event will set up who will possibly challenge for the throne next. However, they could be waiting if GSP comes out victorious and we have a super fight on our hands with Anderson Silva. BUT! There is no looking past Diaz, and these are my predictions for the night.
On our first fight of the main card, we have a duel between two fighters who both lost in their fights on The Ultimate Fighter finale. With the way Dana White has been releasing fighters, I am surprised these two are still around. It has been a cut fest as of late. Mike Ricci is going to be the bigger guy in this fight, coming down from the welterweight division. With him also being a heavy-handed striker, you can look for him to come out putting the pressure on Colin Fletcher. Ricci does not want this to go to the ground in any way because Fletcher is very nasty in submissions. Seven of his eight wins are by submission. Look to see him walk in and try to get the action to the ground very quickly. I have Fletcher taking this fight by what he does best, choking his opponent out, in the second round most likely. The opening round will be a feeling out in which they will be cautious to engage, but then look for Fletcher to get in and slap a choke on Ricci to come out the victor.
Our second fight on the card is Chris Camozzi vs Nick Ring, another set of TUF competitors. I am a big fan of Camozzi and his striking. He is a great Muay Thai fighter with some crisp attacks. Ring is just as good in the stand-up world but has not quite found the finishing power in the Octagon. This fight has the potential to be a stand-up war, but I just have a feeling that it won’t be as exciting as we would like it to be. My prediction is that Camozzi will take this fight by decision. I don’t see it going to the ground too often. More than likely, it will feature back and forth action that Camozzi will come out on top in, landing more shots.
Fight three is where we start shaking up the welterweight division, with Nate Marquardt making his return to the Octagon to take on Jake Ellenberger. I am a huge Marquardt fan. I enjoy his style, and he can bring some exciting fights if he shows up in the right frame of mind. However, he is known for coming into these clutch matches and not being able to preform. I think this will be a time he can because I don’t see Ellenberger being as a tough of an opponent that he has had to go against in the recent past. Ellenberger will not be a pushover, though. Marquardt has been known to get frustrated by wrestlers and not perform as well against them, so I look for Ellenberger to come in and try and get him to the ground early to grind this one out. Now, Marquardt has hopefully been working on his defense and can shrug these takedowns off, keeping the fight standing. There, I think he can use his technical striking and get the best of his opposition. I have Marquardt taking it by TKO near the start of the third round.
In our co-main event of the night, we will see former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit take on Johny Hendricks, a man on a major hot streak in the division. Hendricks is very, very, very heavy handed and coming into this fight to put Condit out, hoping to walk himself into a title fight. Condit is coming off a loss to GSP but still not far from another crack at the belt. He is very good at striking while backing up, and you can look for him to use a lot of the same tactics to frustrate Hendricks that he used in his win over Nick Diaz. He is also very dangerous and simply not an easy person to just walk in and put out. He was able to rock GSP, which is something we have not seen in a while. In this fight with Hendricks, I see it going all three rounds. It could evolve into a war with Hendricks backing Condit around the ring for a good bit of the fight, but Condit is likely to still connect a lot more often. I personally hope to be wrong on that prediction and see a good knockout, but we have seen Condit handle pressure like this in the past. I feel he will stick to that game plan again to earn the decision victory, keeping himself near the top of the welterweight ladder.
The main event at UFC 158 is a fight that I have been awaiting for two years, with long-time welterweight titleholder Georges St-Pierre taking on Nick Diaz. Both of these veterans have been around in the MMA world for a long time. Diaz is known for his boxing and BJJ, and he can end someone’s night very easily. His shots don’t look like they are doing so much damage, but what he brings is “punches in bunches.” When he gets inside, he lands multiple shots that will take a toll on any fighter, and GSP is not a fan of taking shots. Some would even say his fights are boring. GSP is one of the best wrestlers in MMA, and he is the best at making opponents throw their game plans out the window. Fighters can train all the takedown defense they want, but, when you get into the Octagon with him, it is a completely different world. There has been a mass amount of trash talk for this fight, and these two have no love for each other, to say the least. I don’t see a hand shake, and I don’t see them touching gloves. GSP is going to come out the gate and shoot in for the takedown, looking to deliver some ground and pound in a way that we have not seen him apply since his fight with BJ Penn. In the end, I see GSP retaining his crown via decision, setting up his super fight up with Anderson Silva.