After listening to the conference call, and watching the pre-fight press conference, how can you not be pumped for this fight. Words were exchanged, and I’ve never seen George St. Pierre so aggravated and angry before like this. I truly believe although GSP denies it, that he genuinely does not like Nick Diaz. The fuel has been added, the fire is lit, and this one is bound to be a hell of a fight. Obviously GSP is one of the best wrestlers in mma, if not the best, and he’s continually proven his strength cannot be matched. Although criticized for his lack of finishes recently, and his technique, make no mistake GSP is still winning regardless. The most important aspect in anyone’s career is legacy, which has a lot to do with your record, which boost you in the pound for pound section. GSP is still beating the best guys in the welterweight division no matter how you look at it, and a finish is great, but not as great as win over a loss. Anyways, as for Diaz, he probably will expect to be on his back for a good amount of the fight, and rightfully so, but he is no slouch in his guard. I think he has the ability to possibly submit GSP, or get up. His cardio is insane, and if he can get to GSP, it’s going to be in the later rounds. Which brings me to my prediction that Diaz will dethrone GSP by TKO in the championship rounds. Not to say GSP doesn’t have great cardio because he does, but Diaz is relentless every round, so the pace of the fight is very dependent on if GSP can control him, and I just think Diaz is too good on the ground to be stuck there for chunks of time.
Carlos Condit vs Johny Hendricks
A replacement Hendricks was, and I admire him for taking this fight. Not to say Ellenberger is lesser of a fighter than Condit is, but at this moment, Condit status-wise is a bigger fight for Hendricks. It’s a fight that cannot deny Hendricks of a title shot, if he does win. Hendricks will look to test all of his skills in this fight, as Condit could bring the best out of him. Armed with a murder’s row left hand, and solid wrestling, it was only a matter of time before Hendricks became known in the welterweight division. Condit will look to bounce back after an impressive defeat to George St. Pierre. Usually a loss isn’t considered impressive, but he was persistent throughout the fight, and really gave GSP a run for his money, especially in the 3rd round when he landed a head kick that dropped GSP. This is a tough fight to call because I’m really thinking that Hendricks although we suspect he wants this fight standing, seeing that GSP was able to takedown Condit with ease, and the title shot this close, he could try and play it safe.
Jake Ellenberger vs Nate Marquardt
After Johny Hendricks replaced Rory MacDonald to face off against Carlos Condit, Nate Marquardt fresh off losing his Strikeforce welterweight belt in the last Strikeforce event, stepped up to face Jake Ellenberger. Marquardt is making his return to the UFC after being cut for pulling out on the day of weigh ins for UFC on Versus 4 because he was not medically cleared. Marquardt whom recently dropped down to 170, is such a big welterweight, and strength could be a factor in this fight. Marquardt can strike on his feet, and is well versed on the ground, his preference would be in top control, so he could unleash his brutal ground and pound. Ellenberger who is dubbed the nickname “Juggernaut” has had a very successful UFC career thus far, going 7-2 with a split decision loss in his debut to Carlos Condit, and of course the recent defeat to Martin Kampmann via TKO (Knees). Ellenberger bounced back from the defeat to Kampmann with a revenge win over Jay Hieron. Ellenberger hasn’t been the same killer that skyrocketed him to the upper ranks of the welterweight division but I believe he is focused, and like he said at the weigh ins, “It’s my time”. I believe Ellenberger is going crack Marquardt a few times, stuff Marquardt’s take downs, and dictate the fight in route to a decision victory. Only concern I have for Ellenberger is his later round cardio, which is suspect as seen in the Diego Sanchez fight. Never the less, I still have Ellenberger winning this fight.