The UFC makes its third trip to Canada this weekend, and the country that has been called the “Mecca of Mixed Martial Arts” is privileged enough to host one of the most anticipated fights of the year.
After 19 long months away from the cage, MMA superstar and Montreal’s own Georges St-Pierre makes his return to the Octagon on Saturday night, as he looks to unify his UFC welterweight title with the interim belt Carlos Condit won during his absence.
Co-headlining the card is a possible No.1 contender’s bout between Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks, both of whom are riding strong with winning streaks over high-level competition and looking to get their first shot at UFC gold at some point in 2013.
Outside of the two welterweight clashes, the rest of the card has been filled in with a number of Canadian fighters and UFC veterans, and the lineup promises quite a few potential barnburners.
Fight Night awards and the bonus checks that go with them are always highly coveted by everyone competing on fight night, but with so many great matchups set for UFC 154, the competition is going to be tough.
If this fight makes it to the judges’ scorecards, don’t be surprised if both Alessio Sakara and Patrick Cote walk away with a bonus check at the end of the evening.
The only reason this fight isn’t the favorite to take home Fight of the Night honors is because both fighters hit hard enough to end a bout in the blink of an eye, and usually a fight needs at least a full round of action in order to earn both men a bump in their salary.
Cote gets the nod here due to his durability alone, as he’s only been knocked out once in his MMA career compared to four knockout losses for Sakara. But with the dynamite both fighters possess in their hands, it wouldn’t be surprising if either one of these guys walked away with KOTN honors.
Georges St-Pierre has said that his time away from the cage has made him more motivated and a bit hungrier to finish, and if that’s true, “Rush” will be looking to make a statement against Carlos Condit.
St-Pierre hasn’t finished a fight since 2009, when the doctors forced BJ Penn to call it quits after the fourth round of their title fight, and he hasn’t taken out a fighter on his own since he beat down Matt Serra to win the belt back at UFC 83.
Ring rust is seemingly inevitable coming off of over a year-and-a-half outside the cage, but once GSP finds his groove, I think he'll finish this fight.
A few takedowns and top control will wear Condit down as the fight goes on, and St-Pierre will capitalize on an opening in the later rounds to score the submission stoppage.
Martin Kampmann’s ability to walk through punishment is going to make him a lot of money this year.
After earning a submission of the night and a knockout of the night bonus in his last two fights, Kampmann has made a habit of getting beat up and coming back in spectacular fashion in 2012. And if Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger couldn’t put him away, I can’t see Johny Hendricks doing it either.
Hendricks usually comes out reasonably strong, and he’ll likely give “The Hitman” some difficulty over the first few moments, but Kampmann will hang in and survive once again in order to come back and steal the final two rounds.
He won’t get the stoppage win he’s likely gunning for, but Kampmann will earn his third win of the year and could find himself fighting for a UFC title sooner than many expect.