UFC 158 is this Saturday, March 16th, and features a bevy of the world's top welterweights, including perhaps the greatest of all time, Georges St. Pierre. So what better time to predict the entire main card than an event sure to shift the UFC's 170 lbs division.
It's the Englishman "Freakshow" Fletcher against hometown boy Mike Ricci. This fight has an interesting story line mainly because in many eyes, and mine, these were the two favorites to win their respective season of The Ultimate Fighter.
For sure, Ricci has fought higher competition than Fletcher, as he has competed against the likes of Jordan Mein, Daron Cruickshank, and current Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran. However, in his fight against Colton Smith, the Montreal native looked utterly flat, not counting the last minute of the 3rd round.
The key lies in Fltecher's ability to use his lanky frame and reach to his advantage, and maybe working his submission game. But i don't see that happening here. I fully expect the training sessions with GSP and Rory MacDonald to pay off here. I see the lightweight version of Mike Ricci to be far more aggressive than the welterweight verision.
Pick: Mike Ricci by decision
This is a tough fight to call between yet another set of TUF alumni. Both men have advantages over the other, with Camozzi taking the edge in the Muay Thai department, and Ring being better on the ground.
Camozzi has looked solid as of late, winning 4 of his last 5. I see him using his stand-up game and takedown defense to keep Ring at bay. However, I'm not expecting a finish, as this fight will more than likely go to a decision after 15 minutes of back and forth action.
Pick: Camozzi by decision
Nate "The Great" has returned to the UFC, and in his first bout back draws the heavy-handed Jake Ellenberger. After being dominated by Tarec Saffeidine in his last outing, it will being interesting to see if Marquardt has learned from his mistakes (not checking kicks), and if Jake has learned anything.
In his fight with Tyron Woodley, Marquardt looked amazing. However, in the Saffeidine bout he looked not only lacking in the stand-up game, but weaker, which is odd considering how large he is for the welterweight division. Unfortunatly for him, Ellenberger is a beast, and would thus be wise to stay away from the clinch and wrestling.
I give the edge to Marquardt in technical striking, but i fully expect Ellenberger to be aggressive, much like he was in the Diego Sanchez fight, and press the action. And while I don't see Ellenberger using leg kicks to dispose of him, I do expect him to catch Marquardt with a power shot early and take home the W.
Pick: Ellenberger by TKO
In the co-main event we have the man who GSP just defeated against the man who many think should be headlining this card. However, with a win Hendricks will more than likely get the long awaited title shot he has been hoping for.
Unfortunately for him, Carlos Condit is one of the most well rounded fighters in all of MMA. While "Bigg Rigg" has the heavy KO power and wrestling, Condit has the chin (never been KOed) and active guard to dispel most of Hendricks attacks.
Honestly there is no man more deserving of a title shot than Hendricks, but I see his winning streak ending here. I expect Condit to put together the more technical outing, using combos, while moving away from power punch.
Pick: Condit by decision
Will we see the "dark side" of GSP? Will we see him aggressively strike with Nick Diaz? Will the head games get to the welterweight king? No. But this is actually a fairly easy bout to call.
GSP has the best wrestling in all of MMA. When he goes for the double, chances are he is going to get it. And that's what i see happening here. Nick will get his licks in with his boxing, but when "Rush" gets you on the ground its pretty much a done deal. Guard, half-guard, side-control. It doesn't matter.
Diaz may have high level BJJ, but when you're on back for that long with a massively strong Canadian on top of you, it's going to be hard to sweep or pull off a submission. Just ask B.J. Penn.
Pick: Georges St. Pierre by decision