UFC 154: Predictions You Can Take to the Bank
On Saturday night, the wait is finally over. After 18 months of inactivity, welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre will step back into the Octagon in hopes of successfully defending his championship against Carlos Condit, the man holding an interim version of the same title.
With Canada being a hotbed for mixed martial arts activity, you can believe that the crowd will be electric for an event of this magnitude.
The evening's co-main event features another welterweight contest. When hungry contenders Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks collide, they will be looking to parlay their hard work into a crack at the prestigious UFC welterweight championship.
Fast-rising Francis Carmont and Costa Philippou will look to continue building their momentum in the middleweight division when they take on Tom Lawlor and Nick Ring, respectively.
Kicking off the main card is a featherweight battle between exciting stars Mark Hominick and Pablo Garza.
Anything can happen in mixed martial arts, however, here are eight predictions about UFC 154 that you can take to the bank.
A Dark Horse Will Emerge in the Featherweight Division
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Kicking off one of the year's most anticipated events is a featherweight bout between momentum-fueled fighters Darren Elkins and Steven Siler.
Since dropping down from the lightweight division, Elkins has put together a flawless trio of wins against Michihiro Omigawa, Tiequan Zhang and Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao.
His opponent also met Brandao, but was knocked out in only 30 seconds in the TUF house. However, since that time, Siler has also put together a 3-0 record in the UFC by knocking off Josh Clopton, Joey Gambino and notable Cole Miller.
Barring a no contest or a draw, one of these men will leave Canada with four consecutive wins in a highly competitive division. Being that both men are in their mid 20's and entering the prime of their careers, there is no doubt that the momentum will lead to a high profile fight.
Mark Bocek vs Rafael Dos Anjos Will Be Mostly Contested on the Feet
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When lightweights Mark Bocek and Rafael dos Anjos meet on Saturday night, it will be a battle of grappling experts looking to emerge from the pack. However, despite the submission prowess of each man, you can expect to these the winner of this fight decided by the standup game.
Having recently found success with his striking, dos Anjos is unlikely to shy away from trading blows with Bocek. When put against grappler George Sotiropoulos, Rafael needed less than one minute to finish the fight with a devastating hook. He found similar success against Kamal Shalorus when a head kick set up a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Bocek is a well-rounded fighter who has supplemented his ground skills by earning a black belt in Kempo karate. It is likely that he feels his standup is superior to that of his Brazilian opponent. Knowing that his opponent's strength lies in his grappling, the Canadian has no reason to wrestling this fight to the canvas.
There Will Be No Less Than 3 Knockouts on FX
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Clearly, the Zuffa boys are smart enough to sway undecided PPV buyers with an FX event full of fan-friendly encounters that are more likely to leave a man unconscious than Dexter Morgan's neck injectable.
In my last slide, you saw me discuss a grappler vs. grappler contest that will likely be decided in the standup game. Now, we will take a look at three fights that certainly will.
Cyrille Diabate is a monster in the striking department, having won 39 contests via knockout between his professional MMA and kickboxing careers. He faces fellow KO artist Chad Griggs, who is making his light heavyweight debut after stopping 11 heavyweight fights with his powerful punching.
Another striker vs. striker contest pits former boxers Alessio Sakara and Patrick Cote against one another. While Sakara possesses better technique, Cote packs a one-punch knockout capabilities and has never been knocked out.
Finally, the Canadian fans are treated to a battle of hometown boys when Sam Stout and John Makdessi trade blows. Stout had a successful kickboxing career prior to joining mixed martial arts, while his opponent is a black belt in Shotokan karate.
Either Mark Hominick or Pablo Garza Will Fight in the UFC for the Last Time
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With 52 fighters on the roster, the featherweight division of the UFC is one of the most talent-filled in all of mixed martial arts. While that is great for fans, it doesn't bode well for fighters who find themselves on the wrong side of the win column.
Pablo Garza and Mark Hominick may be fortunate enough to fight on the main card of UFC 154, but, after recent setbacks for each man, there is no doubt that each man is fighting for his job.
Hominick nearly dethroned Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship at UFC 129, but came up short in the decision. Since then, "The Machine" suffered a seven-second knockout to the Korean Zombie, and was outstruck by Eddie Yagin earlier this year for his third consecutive loss.
In similarly dire shoes, 6'1 Pablo Garza has also fallen from grace. Despite kicking off his UFC tenure with candidates for Knockout of the Year and Submission of the Year, "The Scarecrow" has choked down the bitter taste of defeat in his last two outings.
Unless this fight is a Fight of the Year candidate, one man leaves Canada with a win on Saturday, while the other leaves with a pink slip.
Serra/Longo Middleweights Will Improve to 10-0 in the Division
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Although there has been much hype surrounding Serra Jiu-Jitsu, it has been mostly centered on middleweight Chris Weidman. However, quietly building momentum in the background is fellow Serra/Longo fighter Costa Philippou.
Weidman is currently 5-0 in the UFC's middleweight division, while Philippou will try and match that record on Saturday night when he takes on Nick Ring on the evening's main card.
Philippou did lose in his promotional debut, a 195-pound catchweight against Nick Catone, but at middleweight, he has come out victorious against Riki Fukuda, Jorge Rivera, Court McGee and Jared Hamman.
Ring and Philippou have both won decisions against Fukuda and McGee, although Ring's wins were deemed highly controversial by media sources. While MMA math is hardly infallible, Philippou should be able to outwork his opponent and earn win No. 10 for his team.
Francis Carmont Will Earn His Fourth Straight Win in the UFC
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I'm not sure what Tom Lawlor vs Francis Carmont is doing on the main card with notable bouts like Cote vs Sakara and Bocek vs dos Anjos relegated to FX. However, it's nice to see French submission artist Francis Carmont getting a bump onto Pay-Per-View.
Perhaps the card placement was based on the flashy personality of Lawlor. It's certainly not based on his level of contendership, as the Ultimate Fighter alumni went 1-3 in 2010 and 2011 combined.
It could also be based on the exciting performances that netted "Filthy" a Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night and Knockout of the Night trifecta.
Specializing in the Achilles' heel of your opponent is quite the advantage heading into a fight. On Saturday night, Carmont will hold that distinction. The two most recent losses suffered by Lawlor both came via chokes, the same method of which Carmont recorded his last two wins.
It's not as if Lawlor can't win this fight with his powerful punching. Carmont has been stopped due to strikes once before in his career, however, it was during his first year as a professional, and before he began training with Tri-Star gym in Canada.
Hendrick vs Kampmann Will Not Determine a No. 1 Contender
With the looming superfight of Georges St-Pierre vs Anderson Silva, as well as the return of Nick Diaz on the horizon (who was ear-marked for a title shot at the time of his suspension), a fight that was once announced as a title eliminator might no longer hold that prestige.
On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White was asked if the winner of UFC 154's main event would be next in line for a title shot. Neither Martin Kampmann nor Johny Hendricks could have been pleased with his answer.
"I have no idea. We have to see how this thing plays out."
"Like I tell everybody, people are asking me, 'Is the Anderson Silva fight happening next?' Well, [St-Pierre] needs to beat Carlos Condit first. And like I said earlier, people are overlooking Carlos Condit, and that's a bad idea."
This would be the second time that a promised title fight is pulled away from Hendricks, as he was told a victory over Josh Koscheck in May would seal the deal.
Georges St-Pierre vs Carlos Condit Will Go to the Scorecards
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The early portion of UFC 154 is going to be a haymaker-fueled explosion of violence and stoppage victories. Hopefully, it will be enough to give you your fix before the main event kicks off.
This is not a shot at Georges St-Pierre and his inability to stop any opponent since regaining the belt in 2008. It is, instead, a testament to the durability of his opponent.
GSP is a machine, but Carlos Condit is unstoppable. Even if "Rush" can dominate The Natural Born Killer the way that some expect, it's highly unlikely that he will be able to stop the New Mexico native.
On the other hand, if Condit is able to shock the world and upset the champ, it will also come by way of the judges scorecards.
This may seem unlikely when you consider that 26 of Condit's 28 wins have come by way of stoppage, but with GSP possessing a well-rounded pool of skills, the best gameplan for the challenger is one that includes staying off of his back and outpointing the champ during standup exchanges.