Georges St-Pierre will attempt to defend his UFC welterweight title once again at UFC 158. However, there is a different feeling heading into this fight, compared to St-Pierre's previous title defenses.
Scheduled to take on archenemy Nick Diaz, St-Pierre's responses to media questions have been less robotic than usual and more passionate. On the pre-fight media call, St-Pierre lost his temper more than ever before, calling Diaz an uneducated fool.
Many feel Diaz was undeserving of this title shot, as he's been out of action for over a year and is coming off a loss to Carlos Condit, whom St-Pierre just defeated.
However, the welterweight champion wanted to settle his feud with Diaz once and for all, and the UFC granted its titleholder his request.
One fighter disappointed with the UFC's decision was Johny Hendricks, who has been on a tear and is widely regarded as the greatest threat to St-Pierre's belt. Hendricks will fight Condit in UFC 158's co-main event and would likely get his shot at the belt with a win.
As this fight card packed with big welterweight matchups approaches, let's take a look at the odds and likely winners for all the main-card bouts.
The Ultimate Fighter runner-ups Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher will both be looking for their first UFC win on Saturday, but the loser of their UFC 158 matchup could be in danger of being released.
Out-wrestled by Colton Smith in the TUF 16 finals, Ricci will be returning to the lightweight division for this bout with Fletcher, which could help him avoid being muscled around.
Fletcher also had trouble with his takedown defense in the TUF: Smashes final against Norman Parke and ended up losing by decision.
While Fletcher has a tricky ground game, Ricci has never been submitted and will have the size to help him drag the Englishman to the canvas—like Parke did repeatedly.
Mike Ricci -285
Colin Fletcher +205
Ricci defeats Fletcher by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
After losing inside the Octagon for the first time in a bout with Tim Boetsch, Nick Ring bounced back with a decision victory over Court McGee, though the judges' call was highly controversial.
Camozzi, meanwhile, finds himself on a three-fight winning streak and is looking to earn a big step-up in competition by beating Ring.
While Camozzi was out-grappled in both his UFC losses to Francis Carmont and Kyle Noke, he appeared to fill the gaps in his takedown defense against wrestler Nick Catone.
If Camozzi is able to force Ring into a striking match like he did against Catone, the surging 26-year-old should be able to pick apart the Canadian.
Nick Ring -180
Chris Camozzi +140
Camozzi defeats Ring by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
In his brief UFC absence, Nate Marquardt became Strikeforce welterweight champion and lost his belt in his most recent fight against Tarec Saffiedine.
Despite losing the final bout in Strikeforce history, Marquardt had apparently done enough to renew UFC interest in him, as he'll return to the Octagon against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 158.
Ellenberger has won seven of his past eight fights to emerge as a welterweight contender, most recently bouncing back from a loss to Martin Kampmann by beating veteran Jay Hieron in a rematch.
While Marquardt and Ellenberger are both heavy hitters, the former Strikeforce titleholder has some holes in his wrestling that Ellenberger will most likely look to exploit. Going to the ground won't free Ellenberger from danger, as Marquardt has a number of submission wins on his record, but it could be the safest route to victory.
Jake Ellenberger -160
Nate Marquardt +120
Ellenberger defeats Marquardt by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Johny Hendricks is considered by many to be the rightful top contender in the welterweight division, with knockout wins in three of his past five fights.
With a win over Carlos Condit at UFC 158, Hendricks would likely get the title shot he has been campaigning for since stopping Martin Kampmann.
Condit recently lost the interim welterweight championship in a title-merging bout with long-reigning 170-pound king Georges St-Pierre. By beating Hendricks, Condit wouldn't be all that far away from a rematch with the Canadian champion.
Though Condit has technical striking and a dangerous guard, Hendricks has the knockout power to threaten Condit when standing and the wrestling to control Condit on the ground, should he have trouble landing power punches on his feet.
Johny Hendricks -150
Carlos Condit +115
Hendricks defeats Condit by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
After making a successful return against Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre is back to defending his welterweight title with regularity, and this time he will try to do so against archenemy Nick Diaz in the UFC 158 main event.
Diaz has not fought in one year and is coming off of a loss to Condit, yet St-Pierre wanted to settle a score, and the UFC granted his wish in putting together the controversial matchup.
St-Pierre has one of the best double-leg takedowns in MMA, while wrestling has always been one of Diaz's weaker points. Considering Diaz isn't known for having one-punch knockout power, he's probably going to be spending a lot of this fight on his back, and the welterweight champion isn't easy to submit.
Georges St-Pierre -440
Nick Diaz +340
St-Pierre defeats Diaz by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45).
Odds via MMAOddsBreaker.com.