Carlos Condit and Rory MacDonald will meet for the second time inside the Octagon when the UFC returns to Montreal for UFC 158 on March 16.
In their first meeting, at UFC 115 in 2010, MacDonald battered Condit for the better part of the fight and was on his way to a unanimous decision victory. However, Condit took advantage of a tired MacDonald and turned the tables in the final round. With seven seconds remaining in the bout the referee had to save MacDonald from brutal ground and pound from Condit.
Each man has had four fights since that night with the only loss being Condit's recent title shot against Georges St. Pierre. The rematch will have big implications for the UFC's welterweight division.
Here is how the fight breaks down.
In their first encounter the striking was relatively even. Both fighters landed hard shots that rocked the other. However, both men have improved their stand-up greatly since the first fight, and it could come down to who has improved more.
MacDonald pressured Condit from the outset. This forced Condit to strike backing up for most of the fight. MacDonald was keying off his kicks, and would routinely catch them and put Condit down.
Condit, via the the tale of the tape, was at a half-inch reach disadvantage but it was he who used his reach more effectively in the striking exchanges. If this remains the case in the rematch it could be a very good sign for Condit.
I am going to give Condit a very slight edge on the feet. In recent fights he has shown improved footwork and angles that will help him get the better of MacDonald at UFC 158. MacDonald's pressure will not be nearly as effective in the rematch, and Condit has the power to counter and end the fight early.
For two rounds MacDonald showed superior grappling. It was not until the third round, when MacDonald was tired, that Condit was able to maintain top position and deliver damage.
MacDonald had several nice takedowns, and even swept Condit in the second. His wrestling and ground and pound has only improved since that fight.
Since their first meeting MacDonald has ragdolled Nate Diaz, ran through Mike Pyle, embarrassed Che Mills, and dominated BJ Penn. An impressive run.
Condit was able to get MacDonald down in the first, but he is at a significant overall grappling advantage against MacDonald. If he is able to put MacDonald down then he should do everything to maintain top position while he has it.
Neither man has had a submission victory in quite some time. MacDonald's last submission came in his UFC debut in January of 2010, and Condit's came way back at WEC 32. These two prefer to stop their opponents via strikes.
While MacDonald has a distinct grappling advantage, Condit may be the better overall submission artist. He is able to use his long limbs to avoid damage and set up submission attempts. That is not an easy task against elite level fights, but it gives him another tool to work with.
MacDonald is no slouch on the ground, but Condit has been at this longer than he has. Experience helps.
Condit's ground game is a bit more advanced than MacDonald's at this stage in their careers.
Condit's X-Factor: Be First
Condit allowed MacDonald to set the pace in their first fight. It caused him to constantly be moving backwards. He cannot allow that to happen in the rematch.
The former UFC title contender needs to come forward at some point against MacDonald. The youngster has been dictating where his fights take place in each of his previous bouts. He has not been the one being pushed.
Condit likes to counterstrike, but that didn't go over so hot the first time. MacDonald was able to close the distance and get him to the mat. Condit needs to be the first fighter off and make MacDonald counter his attacks.
MacDonald's X-Factor: Don't Be Overaggressive
MacDonald has been the aggressor throughout his UFC career, and it has served him well. But this is the first time he will fight someone for a second time, and Condit will be prepared for that.
The pace he set also caused him to tire. While he has increased his cardio, that still will weigh on his mind coming in to the fight. He needs to set a tempo that he is comfortable fighting at for the full 15 minutes.
It will serve MacDonald well to be more reserved in the rematch.
This fight will look a lot like their first. MacDonald coming forward and putting Condit on his back.
Condit will have his moments on the feet, but MacDonald will still get the best of him in each round. Much like the first fight he will find ways to put Condit on the mat.
While Condit is good from his back, MacDonald is better from the top and will avoid any submission attempts while doling out quite a bit of punishment.
MacDonald will get his revenge by taking a 30-27 decision on all the judges' scorecards. The win will put MacDonald in line for a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship, but with his teammate holding the crown it is unlikely he will challenge for the title in 2013.
Prediction: MacDonald defeats Condit by unanimous decision