The Georges St. Pierre-Nick Diaz main event at UFC 158 is one of the biggest fights of the year, and no matter what is signed for the remainder of 2013, it will likely hold onto that status.
When major UFC events like these come along, the betting and predictions increase, and UFC 158 is no exception. Of course, I have my own predictions. I believe GSP will win a decision over Diaz, and Stockton, Calif.'s pseudo bad boy will whine about how the world is against him, blah, blah, blah.
Here are the odds and predictions for the main event and other fights on the main card from others around the sport.
Odds in parentheses and per VegasInsider.com
Odds: Mike "The Martian" Ricci (-285) vs. Colin "Freakshow" Fletcher (+225)
John Heinis of Bleacher Report says:
Ricci is tough as nails and training at Tristar Gym with studs like Rory MacDonald and Georges St-Pierre will develop his skills quickly.
He is also much better at lightweight than at welterweight, but I still think Fletcher is just more well-rounded at this point in his career.
Fletcher, Unanimous Decision
Ricci's height neutralizes the normal height advantage Fletcher genuinely enjoys, and I think he wears him down for a late submission or decision victory.
Nick "The Promise" Ring (-130) vs. Chris Camozzi (EVEN)
Jeff Wagenheim of Sports Illustrated says:
Ring hasn’t fought since last summer, and wasn’t exactly a world beater in his last two bouts (one a slim victory). But his well-rounded game (muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and pro boxing on his resumé) will allow him to get the job done.
Ring by decision.
Ring has impressed me with his toughness every time I've seen him. It is true, he isn't the most talented. But I expect this fight to go to the ground, and Ring has the superior Jiu-Jitsu game.
Jake "The Juggernaut" Ellenberger (-170) vs. Nate "The Great" Marquardt (+140)
David King of Yahoo! Sports says:
Nate was impressive in his welterweight debut against Tyron Woodley, and it wouldn't be fair to judge him off his performance against Saffiedine -- who was simply a bad matchup for him. Ellenberger doesn't have the striking style to keep him at bay like Tarec did, so I expect Marquardt to redeem himself on Saturday.
Marquardt wins via TKO.
Not sure which Ellenberger fights King has been watching, but The Juggernaut has plenty of pop in his punches. Perhaps he's speaking of dexterity and quickness.
Either way, I see this fight unraveling differently. I believe it will be an intense battle, but Ellenberger will come out on top.
Johny "Bigg Rigg" Hendricks (-145) vs. Carlos "Natural Born Killer" Condit (+115)
Damon Martin of Bleacher Report says:
Over the past few weeks, Hendricks has also gone on the record several times talking about his knockout power and how he doesn't use his wrestling much any more.
That comes back to bite him this time if that truly is his approach. Condit is a nasty, rangy striker with phenomenal kicks. If Hendricks isn't looking for the takedown, Condit can light him up with his feet.
Condit, TKO, Round 3
I fully respect Condit's overall ability, but Hendricks is ready to become the sport's next star. His amazing punching power has veiled his great wrestling ability.
Martin is just one of many that still doubt Hendricks. But on Saturday night, he's going to make a believer out of everyone when he stops Condit in the second round.
Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (-500) vs. Nick Diaz (+350)
Robert Rousseau of About.com says:
Diaz, by rounds three or four, will begin to gain the advantage due to his cardio (assuming that St. Pierre will be unable to stop him). I think that this will likely put St. Pierre in danger on his feet, leaving him more tired than he has ever been before in a professional bout. So the next question- will he be able to survive the Diaz onslaught late in the fight? If so, St. Pierre will win by decision. If not…
Yep, I’m calling an upset that seems almost blasphemous. But he’s got to lose some time, right?
Nick Diaz defeats Georges St. Pierre by TKO in round five.
I certainly applaud Rousseau for going against the grain, and I respect Diaz's skills and toughness. Rousseau makes some very good points as well, but I disagree with the theory.
Diaz is a better boxer, but I'm not totally convinced he's a superior striker. It seems that much of Rousseau's prediction is based on that notion.
GSP can be very unpredictable with kicks, superman punches and knees. It just so happens he likely has a predominant edge in grappling. I see GSP trading a bit on his feet to gain respect, but ultimately he takes Diaz to the mat.
GSP is not only a better wrestler, he's physically much stronger than Diaz. The only thing that's better than being technically superior than your opponent in a specific skill, is having them physically overpowered as well.
Diaz's only chance to win this fight is to catch GSP early on. Once he gets taken to the ground and sees how overmatched he is there, he will lose confidence and go through the motions.
I've got GSP by decision.