SI.com’s Jeff Wagenheim provides his predictions for UFC 158, which will be held on Saturday in Montreal.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz
Weeks of rancorous buildup will reach a crescendo of hometown exhilaration when GSP walks to the octagon in front of his adoring public. Then St-Pierre will tune it all out and quietly go about his business. Forget the uncharacteristic fury we’ve seen from Georges of late. Diaz trash-talks a good game and has dragged lesser men into his torture chamber, but once the cage door closes, GSP is done with that nonsense. He’ll methodically slow Nick’s forward-moving stalking with jabs and kicks, and when he’s ready he’ll put the challenger on his back and spend the rest of the 25 minutes beating his head into the canvas. Unless Diaz is too bloodied and battered to make it to the finish line. St-Pierre by decision.
Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit
No bluster, just banging. This one’s the fight of the night, which in a way is justice, because Hendricks belongs in the main event. Deprived of the title shot he earned, Johny can fortify his position at the top of welterweight ladder by smashing Condit just like he’s smashed two of the last three Top 10 fighters he’s faced. But that’s easier said than done. Carlos has the standup shrewdness to stay out of range of the hefty Hendricks left hand, and if the fight goes to the mat he’ll be the one threatening to finish. Condit by decision.
Nate Marquardt vs. Jake Ellenberger
Whoever steps up gets to move up. Neither of these guys is on the verge of a welterweight title shot, but a victory here will be a boost up the ladder. Both guys have what it takes, with Ellenberger the more explosive and Marquardt the more multifaceted in his attack. Jake will be most dangerous early, and Nate can be a slow starter. Ellenberger by KO.
Chris Camozzi vs. Nick Ring
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.
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher
In this meeting of runner-ups from last December’s finals of The Ultimate Fighter (Fletcher’s being the Australian version of the reality show), Ricci has a two-fold edge: He’s fighting in his hometown and in his preferred lightweight division. Ricci by decision.