Carlos Condit will get a chance to re-enter the top of the welterweight division by nullifying the seemingly unstoppable Johny Hendricks left hand.
We will find out if a Diaz brother will finally become a UFC champion, and hold the title of the world’s best undisputed fighter at a weight class.
We’ll see how big of a shadow Georges St. Pierre’s “dark place” casts on his performance, and whether he really does look to beat Nick Diaz down.
And we will likely get a look at where retirement lies for at least one of the two main event fighters, both dogged by their own persona.
Looking at the co-main event and the welterweight title fight from both a technical and a psychological aspect will shed light on what exactly lies in the balance when the glaring lights illuminate the Bell Centre’s Octagon.
Carlos Condit (28-6, 5-2 in UFC) brought the fight to the champion back in November. He came to win, or leave it all on the canvas trying. He was taken down and roughed up by the canadian powerhouse, and that’s what lost him the fight. But there were multiple facets of Condit’s game plan he was able to employ successfully, that testified to the “Natural Born Killer’s” heart and skill level. And something that even the most talented fighters alive struggle to do, was accomplished by the challenger.
That thing? Showing up and coming to fight.
What I mean by this is, after all the training, sparring, media appearances and mental preparation, so often the best fighters don’t bring it on fight night. Their performances are jarred by the constant worry, and mental pressure that comes with being on the stage they’re on. And while it’s hard to blame them, those who can’t conquer this never reach the greatness of those that can.
That’s why Condit was so impressive in that fight, and it showed. He never once looked off his game. He didn’t miss a step. He brought the fight to St. Pierre every way he could with every minute he had. Come Saturday, he will use some nice footwork and a diversified striking attack that is built around closing the gap for Hendricks to land his power shot. He will wear punches properly, and diffuse any momentum that Hendricks finds with his athleticism and his wits.
Hendricks (14-1, 9-1 in UFC) is an incredibly talented competitor but is in a self destructive mindset in wanting to refine one part of his game to the point where he doesn’t fight like a three-dimensional mixed martial artist
The mental prowess and psychological fortitude are the reasons why I not only think Condit will beat Hendricks at UFC 158, but why after St. Pierre’s reign ends, that the Greg Jackson veteran will wear a belt once more.
Nick Diaz (26-8, 7-5 in UFC) missed the open workouts Wednesday of fight week. He supposedly blew off the Count Down film crew, and he went berserker on the UFC 158 conference call. So it’s been made clear that he doesn’t care much at all what people think of him. We know this. He doesn’t care to entertain the press, or defend his words. But one thing I can almost guarantee that he cares a hell of a lot about, is fighting “GSP” Saturday.
He has had it, with everything. And he is craving the moment when he steps into an enclosure and throw fists, no matter who is watching. So when we make fun of “GSP’s” dark place on twitter, it may be funny, but having to defend everything you’ve built in becoming a legendary icon, in another precarious fist fight is a scary notion for someone in the champ’s position.
Especially when Nick Diaz is who wants to take it from you.
St. Pierre (23-2, 17-2 in UFC) will undoubtedly go to his takedowns as early as he safely can. We all know that and will be foolish to act surprised when it happens. He is going to make attempts to get his reaching, quick-stepping jab going early to set up wrestling attacks. And he is going to get hit in the face.
Nick Diaz will draw blood.
It may happen in the fourth and fifth rounds, but it will happen. The safe bet is to pick St. Pierre by decision, and the odds say that will happen. But, if you see St. Pierre win the first three rounds with his signature stifling of opponent’s ground attacks with strength and explosive guard passes, and you call it a wrap, that is a mistake.
Diaz thrives late in fights. He’s done it over and over. The Stockton striker is built for the championship rounds, and his training revolves around being that type of endurance fighter. When the bell rings for the final two rounds, Diaz will have better hand speed than St. Pierre. He’ll be pissed off from being on his back for so long, and he will look to do something about it. His takedown defense is better than his brother’s, so saying the fight will look like a repeat of Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz is a flawed comparison.
Nick will stuff the takedown late, and he will land flurries of overwhelmingly high volume punches that wear down the head, body and spirit of St. Pierre. It’s incredibly hard to see this fight as one not to live up to the hype around it. Because either the fight I just described happens, or someone gets finished, and both will go down as some of the greatest action the UFC will ever be responsible for.
Saturday will be a time when the fighter with a fierce determination that manifests in his actions will get to smile when it’s over. And the one who lets the moment slip away, will be looking back forever.