A staple of the fight game is selling a bout as a match-up of a hero and a villain. The UFC hasn’t always used this strategy, but when they have, it has led to some of the most memorable fights in the history of the sport. Whether it was Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell, Frank Trigg vs. Matt Hughes or Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva, the best rivalries always have a white hat/black hat element to them.
UFC 158 features a fight that has been almost two years in the making, but has been derailed by injury and suspension. During the build-up, things have gotten more and more personal and the verbal attacks have reached a point you rarely see in MMA.
UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre has been at the top of the sport for almost 9 years and has earned a reputation as a respectful and classy individual who is usually complimentary to his opponents and beloved by his fans.
Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz has one loss in the last 7 years, but is known for getting under the skin of his opponents and making them angry and emotional. He talks constant trash to his opponents during his fights, taunting them while he physically breaks them down with his unrelenting pressure and aggression.
Diaz has upset St. Pierre to the point where St. Pierre has erupted angrily during press conferences and conference calls, uncharacteristically threatening Diaz with the worst beating of his career. Lots of other fighters have tried to rattle St. Pierre before fights, but he has always seemed to have an impenetrable veneer of cool. That veneer has been shattered by Diaz, and that is just how Diaz wants it. He wants his opponents angry and emotional, because then they don’t fight smart and Diaz can capitalize on their recklessness and mistakes.
This fight is exciting because of the contrast in style with these two fighters. St. Pierre has become a tactical and conservative champion who has prioritized winning safely over pleasing the fans with a more exciting style. Diaz is an ultra-aggressive pitbull who never stops attacking and is dangerous in every phase of the fight. His fights are usually the most entertaining on the card and leave the crowd whipped into a frenzy. They say that styles make fights. Well, the styles of these two champions make this fight can’t-miss.
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher: These two fighters were both runner-up on their respective seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Ricci is well rounded and very athletic, while Fletcher is unconventional and has a strong submission game. If Fletcher can’t use his height advantage to keep Ricci at a good distance during the striking exchanges then Ricciwill take him apart. Fletcher will struggle to get Ricci to the ground and that will be his downfall. Ricci wins via 2nd round TKO
Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi: Kickboxer Nick Ring is going to want to make this a striking battle, while Camozziwill be happy to take the fight in any direction. Camozzi will be at a disadvantage on the feet, but he isn’t going to shy away from exchanging with Ring. That is a mistake and it will cost him the fight. Ring wins via Unanimous Decision
Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt: Power puncher and wrestler Ellenberger is meeting savvy veteran Marquardtin what could potentially be the Fight of the Night. Both guys hit hard, have great athleticism, are willing to take damage to deal damage and are very hard to finish. This fight may come down to something as simple as who wins the last 30 seconds of each round. Ellenberger wins via Unanimous Decision
Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks: Hendricks is quite possible the scariest guy in this entire weight class. A NCAA Champion wrestler who has concussive KO power in both hands, he is one victory from fighting for the UFC Welterweight Title. Condit was recently the interim Champ before a close loss to St. Pierre dropped him back into the pack at 170lbs. Condit is a vicious kickboxer who can also submit almost anyone on the ground, but he will be pushed to his limits by Hendricks. This is the hardest fight for me to call, because there are a half dozen ways that either fighter can win. Hendricks wins via 1st Round KO
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre: After all the build-up, this fight is essentially simple. Is St. Pierre’s technique and wrestling too much for Diaz’s aggression and diversity? Yes. St. Pierre wins via Unanimous Decision
Let me know who you think will win, and enjoy the night of fights.