Early Preview and Predictions for Full UFC 158 Fight Card

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

Early Preview and Predictions for Full UFC 158 Fight Card

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    UFC 158 is less than a month away. Georges St-Pierre will defend his UFC welterweight crown against Nick Diaz in the main event.

    After more than a year of anticipation, the fight will finally happen.

    Other big-time welterweight bouts line the 12-fight card. Top contender Johny Hendricks battles Jake Ellenberger, and the co-main event features the long-awaited rematch between Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit.

    The focus of 158 is on the 170-pound division, and after the night concludes we will have a clear champion and top contender. Here is an early look at the March 16 card.

Yves Jabouin vs. Johnny Eduardo

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    Yves Jabouin (18-8) was on a three-fight winning streak before Brad Pickett knocked him unconscious at UFC on Fuel TV 5. Johnny Eduardo (26-9) rebounded against Jeff Curran at UFC on Fuel 3 by way of a unanimous decision.

    The two bantamweights will open the night's festivities on Facebook. If UFC 158 was not so deep, this fight could easily be an FX prelim.

    Both men have experience. Eduardo has more fights, but Jabouin has more under the Zuffa banner and against better competition. Will that play a factor? We will see in March.

    During Jabouin's three-fight win streak all the victories came by decision, and two were split decisions. I am not so sure he will be able to get that lucky against Eduardo. This fight will be a fun way to kick off the night and it will go to the judges.

     

    Prediction: Eduardo defeats Jabouin by unanimous decision.

Mitch Gagnon vs. Issei Tamura

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    Mitch Gagnon (9-2) and Issei Tamura (7-3) are both 1-1 in the UFC. However, one man is coming off a win and the other a loss.

    Gagnon got back on the winning side of things with a rear-naked choke stoppage of Walel Watson at UFC 152. Tamura suffered a defeat at the hands of Raphael Assunção at UFC on Fuel 4.

    On paper this looks like a classic striker-vs.-grappler matchup. If that becomes the case inside the Octagon next month, then Gagnon should emerge victorious. Tamura will not be an easy opponent, but once the fight hits the canvas Gagnon will be in his element.

     

    Prediction: Gagnon defeats Tamura via submission (rear-naked choke) in the first round.

Dan Miller vs. Jordan Mein

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    The final fight on Facebook is one of the most intriguing on the card.

    Dan Miller (14-6, 1 NC) welcomes highly touted prospect Jordan Mein (26-8) to the UFC.

    Miller recently made the drop to welterweight and earned a submission victory in his first fight in the weight class. Mein, meanwhile, is 8-2 in his last 10 bouts.

    The two losses Mein suffered came at the hands of two talented wrestlers: Tyron Woodley and Jason High. Miller does not have the pedigree of those two men, but he is a talented grappler who can create a lot of problems for the young Canadian.

    This is a big task for Mein in his debut. I do not believe he is up for the task yet in his budding MMA career.

     

    Prediction: Miller defeats Mein by unanimous decision.

John Makdessi vs. Daron Cruickshank

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    The opening fight on FX will be a striking affair that could be a sleeper for Fight of the Night. John Makdessi (10-2) takes on Daron Cruickshank (12-2).

    Makdessi has shown some excellent striking in his UFC tenure. Cruickshank moved his UFC record to 2-0 with a head-kick knockout over Henry Martinez.

    Fighting talented strikers is nothing new for Makdessi. He has had to contend with various body types and striking styles in the UFC. Cruickshank poses some different threats but overall, Makdessi should find ways to score points and take a decision.

     

    Prediction: Makdessi defeats Cruickshank by unanimous decision.

Antonio Carvalho vs. Darren Elkins

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    Highly ranked featherweights will tune in when Antonio Carvalho (15-5) squares off against Darren Elkins (15-2).

    Carvalho has two straight wins: a knockout of Daniel Pineda, and a split-decision victory versus Rodrigo Damm. Elkins is 4-0 at featherweight and continues to look marvelous.

    The featherweight division is growing more crowded by the day, and the winner of this bout could find themselves fighting one of the top contenders who are on the outside looking in. That makes this a very significant fight in the division.

    Carvalho is going to spend a lot of time on his back. Elkins will continue to do what he does best, and that is to wrestle his opponents down and smother them. He will take his time with ground-and-pound as well as submissions, but Carvalho will defend well enough to avoid a stoppage.

     

    Prediction: Elkins defeats Carvalho by unanimous decision.

Rick Story vs. Quinn Mulhern

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    Strikeforce fighter Quinn Mulhern (18-2) will make his UFC debut against veteran Rick Story (14-6).

    Mulhern's Strikeforce days are largely remembered for the loss to Jason High. However, Mulhern has since quietly put together three straight wins in the now-defunct organization. If he is underestimated then this fight could see an upset.

    That is not likely.

    Story is simply a much better fighter. He can choose to fight this how he wants, and I would imagine he will find Mulhern's chin with his power punches at some point early in the bout.

     

    Prediction: Story defeats Mulhern by TKO in the first round.

Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker

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    Patrick Cote (18-8) will make his welterweight debut against the debuting Bobby Voelker (24-8).

    Cote's last fight was marred by poor refereeing. He won via a disqualification, but the 86-second bout proved nothing for him or Alessio Sakara. Now he will get a chance to make the most out of his UFC rebirth.

    Voelker, on the other hand, is probably just happy not to be staring at Roger Bowling across the cage. In his last five bouts he has fought Bowling three times. He came out on top in that trilogy 2-1. Stepping up to fight someone like Cote is a large task after spending a lot of time on the Strikeforce Challengers cards.

    This will be the FX main event.

    Voelker is good enough to take this fight, but Cote will get a boost from the crowd and do enough to get the decision. Cote is used to these kinds of fights under the bright lights and cameras. That will make a difference.

     

    Prediction: Cote defeats Voelker by unanimous decision.

Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher

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    The opening fight on the pay-per-view features the losers of two separate seasons of The Ultimate Fighter.

    Mike Ricci (7-3) lost to Colton Smith in the finale of the Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson season, and Colin Fletcher (8-2) dropped a decision to Norman Parke on the TUF: Smashes season.

    Ricci looked good on his season, but looked dreadful at the finale. Fletcher did not look much better in his performance against Parke.

    Of the two, I think Ricci has the better chance to improve heading in to this fight. He is training with the elite at Tristar, where both GSP and Rory MacDonald are competing on this card. They will all be peaking at the same time.

    Ricci will have some redemption at home.

     

    Prediction: Ricci defeats Fletcher via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.

Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi

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    Nick Ring (13-1) and Chris Camozzi (18-5) prepare to battle it out in March.

    Ring's only professional loss came at the hands of Tim Boetsch. There is no shame in that. Camozzi posted a 3-0 record in 2012 under the UFC banner.

    This fight does not carry a lot of importance into it, but it is a good fight for each man's development. Whoever wins this fight will keep moving forward in the division. That's a plus.

    This isn't a sexy fight. When push comes to shove, I'll take Camozzi to nab a decision. He has been more active recently and is on a roll. Momentum carries him to a fourth straight win.

     

    Prediction: Camozzi defeats Ring by unanimous decision.

Johny Hendricks vs. Jake Ellenberger

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    This is where the fun begins.

    Johny Hendricks (14-1) did not get the title shot, but instead gets to face the ever-dangerous Jake Ellenberger (28-6) in a welterweight clash. If Hendricks wins he is without question the next in line for a title shot. Ellenberger will try to stop that from happening.

    Mike Pierce, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann are all victims of Hendricks. Consecutively.

    Ellenberger looked fine against Jay Hieron, but it is the fights with Kampmann and Sanchez that have you questioning his chances against Hendricks. Sanchez was coming on late in the fight and seemed to be the better fighter at the end of three, and Kampmann found the off switch.

    Hendricks is the better wrestler and has his vicious power to help in the striking department. Ellenberger's options to win are slim. Hendricks is going to make a statement and claim his title shot.

     

    Prediction: Hendricks defeats Ellenberger by KO in the second round.

Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald

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    Rory MacDonald (14-1) is emotionless inside the cage, but he has been quite vocal about wanting to do harm to Carlos Condit (28-6) for putting the blemish on his record.

    The first fight saw MacDonald gas out and lose the fight in the third round. Had he been able to hang on for just another seven seconds he likely would have taken the judge's decision. But that did not happen.

    He learned his lesson, and Condit is about to experience that firsthand.

    MacDonald may be the second-best welterweight on the planet right now behind GSP. He is that talented, and that well rounded. Condit is no slouch, but an angry and focused MacDonald is a scary thought. I don't think this will be pretty.

     

    Prediction: MacDonald defeats Condit by TKO in the second round.

UFC Welterweight Championship: Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz

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    GSP (23-2) wanted this fight, and now he gets it. Nick Diaz (26-8, 1 NC) returns from suspension and immediately gets a shot at the undisputed championship.

    Everything about this fight screams a GSP dominant decision.

    He is the best wrestler in the division and Diaz struggles against controlling wrestlers. GSP is a dynamic striker, and Diaz only utilizes his boxing. Diaz generally only has one game plan, but GSP routinely mixes his up and makes in-fight adjustments accordingly.

    However, sometimes you just have to go with that gut feeling.

    Diaz will hang around in this fight. Eventually, one of those famous punches will slip through GSP's defense and tag the champion. From there Diaz will start accumulating damage and put the champion away. He will stun the crowd.

     

    Prediction: Diaz defeats GSP by TKO in the third round.