The Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada sees the return of welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre to face Carlos Condit for the undisputed UFC welterweight championship.
Following a 19 month lay off, GSP will be looking to show that he is still the dominant force he was, prior to injuring his ACL. Interim champion Condit has waited patiently since February for his chance at unifying the belts to take St-Pierre’s place at the top of the 170lb division. Condit is on a five fight win streak and will look to become just the third man to beat GSP in his MMA career.
Elsewhere on the main card we have a possible title eliminator between two of the top welterweight prospects as Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks face off. Both men are brimming with confidence following impressive recent performances.
We also have some middleweight competition with Tom Lawlor looking to stop Francis Carmont’s ascent up the 185lb ranks. There’s also the match up of Constantinos Philippou versus Nick Ring in the same division that has the potential to be fight of the night given both men’s propensity to stand and bang.
The last fight on the main card see’s Pablo Garza take on Mark Hominick. Hominick has now lost three straight and must win if he’s to remain in the UFC. Garza faces a similar situation given that he’s lost his last two fights. Hominick’s last fight in Canada ended badly with him being on the receiving end of a seven second K.O. from the Korean Zombie.
The full fight card is below. As ever we’ll break down the main event and pick a few fights where there’s some value in the betting.
MAIN CARD (ESPN 3am)
Champ Georges St-Pierre vs. interim champ Carlos Condit (welterweight-title unification)
Johny Hendricks vs. Martin Kampmann
Tom Lawlor vs. Francis Carmont
Constantinos Philippou vs. Nick Ring
Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN 1am)
Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara
Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs
John Makdessi vs. Sam Stout
Mark Bocek vs. Rafael dos Anjos
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 11pm)
Antonio Carvalho vs. Rodrigo Damm
John Maguire vs. Matt Riddle
Azamat Gashimov vs. Ivan Menjivar
Darren Elkins vs. Steven Siler
Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit
Personally I’ve waited for this fight for over a year. After Nick Diaz decided to go walk about instead of attending press conferences; the UFC turned to top prospect Carlos Condit to fill the void and take on GSP. Unfortunately for Condit that opportunity didn’t come to fruition last year when St-Pierre was forced to pull out of the fight due to a knee injury. Little did we know at the time; that the injury would later require surgery and lead to over a year and a half of inactivity for GSP as he rehabilitated the injury to his ACL.
In GSP’s absence Condit took on Nick Diaz for the interim UFC welterweight championship at UFC 143. After a gruelling five rounds Condit was victorious and sealed his date with GSP by saying he would wait for the champion to return rather than defending the interim belt.
This is an interesting match stylistically as Condit has struggled with wrestlers on occasion and GSP is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the history of MMA. What Condit does maybe lack in wrestling, he does make up for in grappling ability when the fight hits the ground.
One significant thing with the injury that GSP has recovered from is that his leg is untested in competition. Will he still have that explosiveness that made him a takedown phenom or is he going to be slower to react? Condit has a very technical style and has excellent stand up. He mixes his striking very well and he has vicious leg kicks; which I expect to see him use to pepper GSP’s reconstructed knee. Patrick Cote recently spoke about his own return to the UFC following the same type of injury and spoke about how difficult it was to react following a long lay off.
St-Pierre has said the time away has re-lit the competitive fire and gave him a chance to re-evaluate how he trains. He’d said that he believes he previous was over-training and has changed many aspects of his preparation to best suit his needs for fighting. Could this see the GSP of old who put on massively exciting fights and went for the kill return; I don’t know but it’s intriguing to hear Georges speak in the manner he has.
Many have questioned GSP’s motivation in fights recently as he’s fought more not to lose than to win. Condit however has shown a willingness in the past to use his well rounded game to his advantage by throwing unorthodox strikes and taking calculated risks on the feet showing full confidence that if he was taken down; that he would be capable of still having an impact in the fight.
Condit has an iron chin and is extremely resilient. Witness his comeback victories against Jake Ellenberger where he was badly rocked and came back to earn a decision. He also is the only man to beat top prospect Rory MacDonald in his career. That fight was all the more impressive given that he was dominated for two rounds and then destroyed MacDonald in the 3rd round as he claimed a stoppage victory with just seconds left on the clock.
Personally speaking I think we’re in for a hell of a fight. The betting is actually surprisingly big in the pricing for Condit given GSP’s lay off and the question marks over that knee. Yes we’ve seen the training videos but remember, the UFC’s marketing team tried to make people believe James Toney was ready for the Octagon too. Not to be disrespectful to GSP; I think he will get back to his best but I think he’s fighting Condit at the wrong time.
Recommendation: Carlos Condit is @ 5/2 with our partner Boylesports.
Also look at the fight to go the distance market. It’s 6/4 with Boylesports.
Johnny Hendricks vs. Martin Kampmann:
The co-main event of the evening has possible title implications. Stylistically it’s a striker vs. grappler match-up with Hendricks being an extremely high calibre wrestler and Kampmann being a very technical kick boxer.
Kampmann will need to avoid Hendricks dangerous left hand if he is to win this fight. Otherwise it could be a short night. Ask Jon Fitch if you need to; the vision of him trying to tackle Steve Mazzagatti after the fight had stopped will make you respect Hendricks’ power quickly. Kampmann will hopefully learn his lesson from the Paul Daley fight where he went in knowing Daley’s power and went into a striking battle.
Hendricks will maybe not be able to use his wrestling game as much as he’d like given that Kampmann has a slick ground game and a hell of a dangerous guillotine. If Kampmann gets a hold of your neck do not expect to be conscious for long.
We’re yet to see anyone really put Hendricks in trouble but he did lose to Rick Story and it’s this that bothers me most. I think Kampmann having trained constantly with wrestlers over the last few years at Xtreme Couture may be in a good spot to beat him. Kampmann will need to start quicker than usual. He’s notoriously slow to start and has had comeback victories in his last two bouts against Alves and Ellenberger.
Hendricks cardio is a worry as ever and remember he did slow up massively against Josh Koscheck. Kampmann has been rocked many times in his career but is extremely durable and doesn’t panic.
Recommendation: I’m going with Kampmann for the upset. I think he’s a more well rounded fighter and it’s highly possible that he may stop this fight by K.O. or submission. Kampmann is @ 11/10
Tom Lawlor vs. Francis Carmont: Carmont comes in a massive favourite in this fight and given his propensity to be taken down I think Tom Lawlor could upset him @ 21/10.
Constantinos Philippou vs. Nick Ring: This is an unpredictable fight; Philippou should really be victorious but Nick Ring has a habit of getting decisions that he may not totally deserve. Ring being at home in Canada may see him sneak a decision.
Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza: Mark Hominick fought for the featherweight title just three fights ago and now he’s fighting to save his career. My biggest worry with Hominick is that his chin has looked so bad. He’s been rocked numerous times in a fight against Eddie Yagin and gives up reach against a guy that is equally adept at striking and grappling. It’s a must win fight for Hominick and I genuinely can’t understand why he’s priced so nicely. Garza has lost to two of the members of the top 10 at 145lbs but I still think he’s a value bet in this fight. Garza to win @9/4.
Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs: Griggs drops down to 205lbs for the first time to face Diabate. Griggs had an excellent chin at heavyweight and has some knock out power. For me his cardio was a question and with him not carrying a lot of muscle I wonder if the weight cut could have an effect. Diabate is an excellent striker and should have a speed advantage. If he can avoid the knock out power of Griggs. Diabate should take this @ 8/11.
Antonio Carvalho vs. Rodrigo Damm: Carvalho and Damm are similar fighters but I think Carvalho is better in all areas and on the ascendancy where as Damm looks to have his peak. Carvalho is @ 1/3.
If you wish to take the upset treble of Condit, Kampmann and Garza you’ll get a hefty 23/1 with Boylesports.