8 Reasons to Be Pumped for UFC 158 GSP vs. Diaz
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UFC 158 is just over the horizon and will mark the UFC's first show in Canada in 2013. The card is being pegged as a welterweight elimination tournament with many of the top contenders at 170 pounds scheduled to fight on the card that will be headlined by a title fight between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.
If you like the welterweight division, you are in for an epic card and not much more needs to be said heading in to this event on March 16th. The stacked match ups and storylines are running rampant but don't end with just one division, and here are:
Eight Reasons to Get Pumped for UFC 158
8. Jordan Mein Debuts in the UFC
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In a card that is stacked with the best welterweight's in the world, there are some other welterweight fighters who are set to enter the promotion and Canada's Jordan Mein is front and center.
Mein was on the Strikeforce roster when Zuffa purchased the promotion and landed a spot in the crossover. He is a highly touted prospect with excellent technical striking and is a very long and lean welterweight. He is coming off a destruction of veteran Forrest Petz last November in the Score Fighting Series and has wins over Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman, Marius Zaromskis and Evangelista Santos on his resume.
Mein gets a tough test in his debut against veteran Dan Miller, and it will be interesting to see who wins this battle of styles. Miller will test Mein's takedown and submission defense and it will be interesting to see how much it has improved since his split decision loss to Tyron Woodley.
7. Rick Story Still in the Mix
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Young wrestler Rick "The Horror" Story has been mixing it up with some of the best welterweight's for a few years now, and it is still a mystery just where this fighter belongs at this point in his career. He has some very convincing wins against the likes of Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves, but he also has some bad losses mixed in there as well.
Story has decision losses to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann, and he just lost badly to Demian Maia, so he needs a dominant performance against Sean Pierson in March to show he still belongs.
Story and Pierson is a nice match up between two fighters who will go straight ahead and try to impose their will on the other, and we should learn all we need to know about where Story belongs in the division.
(Note: Confirmed by Sportsnet.ca Pierson has been forced to withdraw from this fight and will be replaced by debut fighter Quinn Mulhern).
6. Cote vs. Voelker: Don't Blink
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Patrick Cote has eight knockouts in his 18 wins in the cage and Bobby Voelker has 15 knockouts in 24 wins, need I say more?
Cote is making his welterweight debut and the last time he fought in Montreal against Alessio Sakara fireworks ensued into one of the most memorable UFC finishes of all time. It's no secret that Cote throws caution to the wind, especially when fighting in front of his home crowd and the move down from middleweight should help him reach his foe more often than not when he throws his bombs.
Cote will welcome Voelker in to one of the UFC's deepest divisions, and the former Strikeforce fighter comes in with some pedigree. Voelker has 15 knockouts in the smaller shows, and is coming off back to back knockouts over Roger Bowling in Strikeforce Challengers in 2010 and 2011.
These two men will come out swinging for the fences so don't blink on this fight!
Montreal Crowds = Rocking Atmosphere
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
It sometimes doesn't translate to television, but a fight card in Montreal is one of the craziest atmospheres you are ever going to get at a sporting event of 20,000 people. The frenzy in the building is nothing short of electric from the start to the finish with chants of Ole Ole Ole! ringing through the stands when their home town favorites take the center of the cage.
Things will be amplified in March as local hero GSP will face one of MMA's biggest bad boys in Nick Diaz. The atmosphere will be tense with anticipation, and whether GSP wins or loses, there could be a riot in the stands after this one.
Makdessi vs. Cruickshank
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All welterweight hype aside, two of the most exciting young strikers in the lightweight division will lock horns at UFC 158.
"The Detroit Superstar" Daron Cruickshank is coming off a dynamic striking display in his knockout win over Henry Martinez late last year and he is currently on a six fight winning streak. John "The Bull" Makdessi got his career back on track with a win over Sam Stout in Montreal in November, where he put in one of the best performances of his career.
Both these men are strikers by their base and will be throwing from all angles and levels come fight night. With all the juicy match ups on the card I wouldn't sleep on this one to be a Fight of The Night candidate.
Rory Seeks Revenge on Condit
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A loss to Carlos Condit has been eating at Rory MacDonald for almost three years now, and he gets his shot at revenge at UFC 158. Condit got the TKO win in the dying seconds of their UFC 115 scrap in Vancouver, and both men have come a long way since then.
MacDonald has risen up the welterweight ranks in the past couple years and put himself right in the contender mix with a win over BJ Penn in December. MacDonald took the mic after the fight, and used the opportunity to call Condit out. His wish has been granted and this should be an epic fight.
Condit is coming off a title shot against St-Pierre, and will look to silence MacDonald and stop the meteoric rise that the Canadian has been on. If Condit can get the win here, he will remain right at the very top of the division for the remainder of the year. If MacDonald wins, he gets his revenge on Condit and puts himself in title contention for the first time in his career.
Hendricks' KO Hat Trick?
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Two amazing flash knockouts over Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann have Johny Hendricks on the cusp of a title shot. Can he make it a hat trick against Jake Ellenberger in Montreal?
Many people feel Hendricks should be the one in the main event title fight already but he will need one more solid win to cement his place at the front of the line. Ellenberger recently lost to Kampmann but bounced back in his last fight with a win over Jay Hieron, so he gets a big opportunity to get right back near the top with a win.
Ellenberger must stay clear of the Hendricks left hand if he wants to avoid the same fate as Fitch and Kampmann, but there is a lot on the line in this fight, so both men should be coming guns blazing.
GSP vs. Diaz Once and for All
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The title fight and bad blood between George St-Pierre and Nick Diaz has been brewing for some time now, and at UFC 158 the score will finally be settled.
This fight is not only an intriguing style battle between two of the very best fighters in the world today, it is a classic battle between good and evil that will be played out in the center of the cage.
St-Pierre has been at the top of the sport for years with a clean cut image based on hard work and respect for your opponent. Diaz has been at the top of the sport for years with a bad boy thug image based on trash talk, defiance and positive dope tests. All image aside, these men have been the two very best welterweight fighters in the world for quite some time, and I can't wait to see if good will prevail once again on March 16th.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca's UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.