The MMA Corner Round Table: UFC 158 Joe Chacon March 13, 2013 Events, Previews The UFC looks to capitalize on the excitement of the co-main and main events from the latest UFC card as the promotion heads back to Canada for UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz. While it appears at a glance that this card does not have the consistent star power throughout the scheduled fights as we’ve seen with the previous pay-per-view cards of 2013, the main event is a fight most fans would plunk down their hard-earned cash for on its own. Don’t let the unfamiliar names hinder your excitement for this card. There are plenty of fighters who were once in Strikeforce that are looking to make their presence felt within the UFC. Aside from Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks, fans will also be treated to an intriguing match-up between Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt, among others. UFC 158 takes place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on March 16. The pay-per-view main card starts at 10 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on Facebook at 6:35 p.m. ET and shifting to FX at 8 p.m. ET. The MMA Corner’s Joe Chacon, Riley Kontek and Gregory Chase break down this highly anticipated event in this edition of the Round Table. LW: Colin Fletcher (8-2) vs. Mike Ricci (7-3) Kontek: Ultimate Fighter runner-ups meet when Colin Fletcher of “The Smashes” takes on Mike Ricci of season 16. Both men bring a unique set of skills into this fight. Ricci (L) (Brian Townsend/Sherdog) Fletcher is a tall, lanky lightweight with freakish reach. He is a crafty grappler, but would prefer to be on top when he is on the mat. Ricci is a technical striker with a solid ground game of his own. He may have been exposed in his loss to Colton Smith, but that was because Smith was a pure power wrestler. Fletcher is not a wrestler, however. This fight should be a fun one. Fletcher, if he comes out aggressive, will meet a guy who will engage on the feet. From there, a wild kickboxing battle should ensue. When it is all said and done, I think Ricci will be too experienced and technical for Fletcher. Fletcher is always fun to watch, but Ricci is just plain better than the Brit right now. Chase: As Riley suggested, Ricci is a technical striker, but he is a well-rounded fighter as well. He has the better hands, and that will be where the better exchanges will happen. I see Fletcher being much more dominant on the ground, and he certainly wants to take Ricci there, but I think Ricci will have what it takes to keep this standing or stand it up quickly when it does go to the ground. All around, this fight is pretty even in my book. I give the edge to Ricci based off his striking, but both men are coming into this fight hungry and with something to prove. They have both failed to make a splash in the UFC, but this is the perfect opportunity for one of these men to get back to their winning ways. Fletcher (David Lethaby/Sherdog) Ricci will take this one, but probably by decision. Chacon: I absolutely cringe nowadays when I see a contrast in styles match-up like this. The reason being because we can almost see what’s coming before it even happens. As both Riley and Gregory mentioned, Fletcher has a distinct advantage on the ground. He also has a two-inch height and a reach advantage, which will help with his game plan of getting this fight to where he is most comfortable. Fletcher has seen seven of his eight professional wins come by submission, and this fight will end in the same way for him. Both fighters are fighting to maintain their spot in the UFC, and I see Ricci coming out aggressive in hopes of impressing fans and UFC President Dana White with his willingness to engage in a fight. Fletcher, on the other hand, is going to look to exploit a mistake by Ricci and take him down at the first opportunity. Fletcher should win this fight by submission within the first two rounds. MW: Chris Camozzi (18-5) vs. Nick Ring (13-1) Chase: This is a tough fight for me to call. I would tend to pick Chris Camozzi when looking at this match-up on paper, but Nick Ring has shown some improvement and presents a nice challenge for Camozzi on the ground. Ring (R) delivers a right hand (James Law/Heavy MMA) While Camozzi has fought better caliber fighters, Ring is coming off a good win over Court McGee. This is certainly a confidence booster, but Camozzi is on a much better winning streak, and with some finishes thrown in as well. The question for me will be if Camozzi can keep this standing and finish it quickly. Ring has the advantage on the ground, and the majority of Camozzi’s losses have come via submission. Camozzi could certainly hold his own and get his own submission win over Ring, but my money is on Ring on the ground. At the end of the day, I will pick Ring by a second-round submission, assuming Camozzi doesn’t score a first-round TKO. Chacon: Camozzi and Ring is one of the most evenly matched fights on the card. Although Ring got a win over McGee, as Gregory mentioned, it was a botched call by the judges and he should have lost that fight. That’s all in the rear-view mirror now, and Ring’s next opponent is Camozzi, who has won four of his last five fights. In my opinion, this fight has a decision written all over it. Expect Camozzi and Ring to showcase a well-balanced attack featuring a heavy dose of striking, as well as positioning on the ground. This will be one of those fights that will be pretty even throughout the entire 15 minutes and end up being a toss-up with the judges. Camozzi (L) connects with a left hand (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) I’m going to go with Camozzi via split decision to extend his winning streak to four. Kontek: Former castmates on The Ultimate Fighter meet up here. Interestingly enough, both men were also eliminated from the tournament due to injury (Ring hurt his knee, Camozzi suffered a broken jaw). Ring should be fortunate to have a job. Even though he is 3-1 in the UFC, two of those wins were controversial. He beat Riki Fukuda by decision, despite being dominated, and beat McGee by decision, despite being outstruck almost 2-to-1. Ring does have good boxing ability and some underrated grappling ability, and Camozzi should not take this fight lightly. Camozzi is a solid Muay Thai stylist that has good defensive wrestling in his arsenal. If Ring wants to drag him down, Camozzi will likely fend him off. Camozzi likely wants to strike, especially since Ring was out-landed on the feet by McGee. I doubt a finish will come here, unless there is a cut or doctor’s stoppage. Instead, Camozzi extends his winning streak via decision. WW: Jake Ellenberger (28-6) vs. Nate Marquardt (32-11-2) Chacon: Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt will square off in a fight that features two guys who rarely lose by anything other than a submission. Of course, you’re only going to believe that if you are able to remove the image of Martin Kampmann’s knees dropping Ellenberger to the canvas in June of last year. Aside from that mishap, Ellenberger has enjoyed a good amount of success within the Octagon. Jake Ellenberger (Dave Mandel/Sherdog) Marquardt is making his return for his first fight for the UFC since UFC 128. Both Marquardt and Ellenberger possess tremendous power in their hands, but also round that out with a terrific ground game. While it seems as though Marquardt has abandoned his BJJ techniques over the last few years, Ellenberger still puts on an excellent wrestling display in almost every fight he participates in. I believe we are going to see the Ellenberger reminiscent of what we saw in his fights against Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez (well, the first round and a half of that fight). He will utilize his quick striking, followed up with takedowns, en route to a unanimous decision win over Marquardt. Kontek: Marquardt lost a lot of momentum in dropping his Strikeforce belt, but he gets a chance to regain some of that in this fight against Ellenberger. One thing that was exploited in Marquardt’s game was his inability to check leg kicks and stop the takedown late. The difference between previous opponent Tarec Saffiedine and upcoming foe Ellenberger is that “The Juggernaut” has a collegiate wrestling background and is more powerful on the shot than the Belgian. Ellenberger has looked content upon striking in his latest outings, but Marquardt isn’t a guy you play around with on the feet. Ellenberger needs to keep his chin down, get his timing established and floor Marquardt with his powerful takedowns. Marquardt (R) throws a kick (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner) Ellenberger will likely take a decision and stay in the win column. With that, he will earn another top welterweight in his next outing. Chase: This could be a great striking match or a less-than-exciting decision. Both men have the great power in their hands to pull off a great highlight reel, and both are strong guys who are hungry to get back into the top of the welterweight division. It becomes a question of if Ellenberger will want to try his stand-up with Marquardt, or if he will go for the takedown early. As my fellow panelists have outlined, Marquardt is going to have some issues with the takedown, and I think we will see grappling dominance from Ellenberger. This may lead to an unsatisfactory win, since a stand-up war between the two has “Knockout of the Night” potential. At the end of it all, Ellenberger may just pull off the wrestling decision win, but he will still look dominant while doing so. My money would be on a unanimous decision for Ellenberger, but I will give a side prediction that Ellenberger might get a early TKO/KO. WW: Carlos Condit (28-6) vs. Johny Hendricks (14-1) Chase: I was slightly less irritated when I heard Johny Hendricks would be fighting Carlos Condit instead of Ellenberger. The fact that Hendricks isn’t headlining this card against Georges St-Pierre is upsetting, but I completely understand the business mentality behind putting Nick Diaz in front of GSP. Regardless, this will be the final straw that will put Hendricks up as the undisputed No. 1 contender, if he can get through Condit. Hendricks (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine) Condit is coming off a loss to the current champ, and could certainly put himself in a nice position with a win over Hendricks. Condit is a well-rounded and durable guy, and, in general, he is a much more technical striker than Hendricks. However, Hendricks is the one who will get the better of the exchanges here. It’s hard for me to bet against the guy who knocked out Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann with the same shot, and I would think he could do the same against Condit. Hendricks will want to avoid any kicks coming his way and tighten his game up to do more than just wing shots. His left hand will be a sure danger for Condit, but time will tell if he can be the first man to KO/TKO “The Natural Born Killer.” Kontek: A lot of people have been hopping on the Hendricks bandwagon as of late, and I guess I can’t blame them. He has looked like a bull in two of his last three outings. However, the fans that are already crowning Hendricks the No.1 contender (again) are also counting out one of the toughest men in MMA. Condit is a wily veteran with the all-around skills and chin to stay in there with the former All-American wrestler. Yes, Hendricks will have the wrestling advantage and probably the power advantage, though that is not to say that Condit doesn’t have power. Condit is more technical of a striker, and he is also more diverse. Condit is usually the aggressor in his fights, leaving him open to takedowns. Hendricks may look for that in this fight, but he must beware. Condit is nifty off his back and could submit him if he isn’t careful. Condit (James Law/Heavy MMA) I will go the road less traveled here. I think Condit will use his more polished overall skills to outwork Hendricks en route to a decision. Chacon: Call me crazy, but I think the Hendricks show ends here. Well, I suppose call me as crazy as Riley, who also predicted Condit will pull off the win. I do agree with both of my colleagues, in that Hendricks has the advantage in power and on the ground, but only in spurts. I believe Condit is a better all-around fighter. If Condit can avoid the flash knockout of Hendricks, he should be able to use his five-inch height advantage to control the fight standing up or on the ground. We should expect Condit to utilize the same strategy—darting in and out of the pocket while landing significant strikes in the process—that allowed him to beat Diaz. Should the fight go to the ground, he will most likely do exactly what Riley stated and utilize the effectiveness he has while on his back. He is long and strong enough to be able to keep Hendricks from advancing his position while on top of Condit. I don’t see Hendricks or Condit getting knocked out, and both are good at defending submission attempts. Chalk up a split decision win for Condit. WW Championship: Georges St-Pierre (23-2) vs. Nick Diaz (26-8) Kontek: The talking ends with this fight. Nick Diaz will either back up his talk or eat his words. Georges St-Pierre will either add Diaz to his legacy or take a rare loss. St-Pierre (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) GSP has been unstoppable since beating Matt Serra in a rematch to get his belt back. Since then, nobody has come even close to stopping the king of the welterweight division. He is too athletic, his wrestling is too good and he has faced too many high-level opponents to fall at this point. Diaz probably has the better jiu-jitsu game, but GSP’s wrestling may stifle that. Diaz’s best chance is to use volume boxing and his insane cardio to try and at least tire out GSP. That way, he could fish for a finish down the stretch. I would put my money on GSP’s wrestling to overcome the variables. He should earn a decision here and move on to a possible superfight. Then again, how many times have we said that and yet it still hasn’t happened? Chacon: I firmly believe Diaz is going to beat GSP and become the next welterweight champion. GSP is arguably the smartest fighter in the sport and certainly knows how to get out of the way of a counter right after he lands something on his opponent. He won’t avoid Diaz in the same way Condit did, however. GSP will engage in more of a battle and rely on a strike/takedown combo, instead of backpedaling away from Diaz. Diaz will be able to utilize his refined Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to avoid getting into bad positions after a GSP takedown. Diaz may land on his back once or twice, but he will not allow GSP to pull the “lay and pray” that we’ve seen him do time and time again. Let’s be perfectly clear, GSP is aggressive while on top of his opponent, but he still relies heavily upon controlling his opponent on the ground by smothering him so he can’t get back to his feet. It’s not a Jon Fitch “lay and pray” by any means, but it’s effective nonetheless. If GSP does manage to get Diaz down, it won’t be for long, and Diaz will be back on his feet faster than most expect. The way Diaz had his way with B.J. Penn is exactly the type of performance he is going to need to have against GSP in order to win this fight—and I think he’s going to do just that. Diaz landed an insane amount of strikes in the fight, somewhere right around 180. That’s nearly 100 more than Penn landed in return. GSP avoids a lot more strikes than Penn does. Overall, GSP has avoided 76 percent of his opponents’ strikes. Diaz will have to focus on quick combinations to wear down the champion toward the fourth and fifth rounds of the fight. This fight will reach the fifth round and more than likely go to a decision. Both of these great fighters have world-class stamina, and neither one will submit to the other. Diaz learned a lot from his loss to Condit. He knows others, more specifically GSP, may look at that as a blueprint on how to beat him. He’s not going to let GSP duck in and out the way Condit did, but at the same time, he will land more significant strikes throughout this fight that promises to go the distance. Diaz (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) Of course, who knows if the judges would even give Diaz the win in Canada? If Diaz loses another decision that he feels he won, he may walk away from the sport completely. Chase: If styles make fights, this one has the formula to be one of the greats. GSP is a phenomenal technical striker who comes in with a game plan and a takedown game that is very hard to stop. He is well-rounded and has been on top for a long time. However, Diaz is well-rounded in his own right. Diaz is a far less technical fighter on the feet, but on the ground, he is a submission expert. This is where GSP’s greatest threat lies. St-Pierre is known for his takedowns, but such an action would put him in the position to take his biggest risk. It’s not that GSP couldn’t submit Diaz, or grapple his way to another decision, but Diaz takes the odds on the ground. It will be interesting to see if Diaz’s striking style will be an issue for GSP. I always compare it to when a “noob” video gamer will take on a pro and get the better of him, mainly because the pro isn’t used to such an unorthodox and non-technical opponent. Diaz’s lack of traditional striking and presence may end up posing a problem. The other thing is whether GSP is going to be looking for a finish in this fight—and if his motivation due to his dislike of Diaz will be enough to fuel him to a rare finish win—in a way that could compromise his game plan or if he’ll be fighting smart. I will have to go with what history has shown and put my money on GSP by a unanimous decision. However, I think GSP may end up getting Diaz damaged and hurt, and possibly to the point where he could get a TKO win. Preliminary Card BW: George Roop (12-9-1) vs. Reuben Duran (8-4-1) Chacon: George Roop has lost three of his last four fights, but looks to have a favorable match-up against Reuben Duran. Roop has a tremendous seven-inch reach advantage that will allow him to keep Duran from being successful. Look for Roop to win this fight via decision. Chase: I agree with Joe. Despite his losses, Roop takes this. Despite some inconsistency on Roop’s part, Duran is going to have a tough time with him. I will have to go with Roop with a decision win, but I could see him pulling out a TKO or knockout in the first or second. Kontek: Roop is 6-foot-1 and 135 pounds for this fight. That is almost disgusting to think about. Roop will use his length and size advantage to outpoint Duran with strikes and look to finish off his tired adversary in the third round with strikes. BW: T.J. Dillashaw (6-1) vs. Issei Tamura (7-3) Kontek: Things went from bad to worse for Issei Tamura. He had to fight the scrappy and vicious Mitch Gagnon, but now takes on T.J. Dillashaw, who has more tool with which to beat him. Dillashaw will use his wrestling and out-grapple Tamura to a late submission. Chase: This one is a no-brainer, and I think Dillashaw takes it. His submission game will be too much for Tamura, and we will see a choke early on. I have to agree with Riley—Dillashaw uses his wrestling and grabs a hold of Tamura’s neck. Chacon: I’m in complete agreement with my fellow panelists. Dillashaw is a stud on the ground and will submit Tamura early in this fight. I’m guessing Tamura will then be cut from the UFC after compiling a 1-2 record. WW: Rick Story (14-6) vs. Quinn Mulhern (18-2) Chase: Rick Story. That is all. But to elaborate for fun, Story will end this fight decisively using his hands. While Quinn Mulhern is a very dangerous threat on the ground—and Story’s last fight was a submission loss—I think Story has the better experience and hands, which will get him a TKO victory in the first round. Chacon: “The Horror” has one of my most favorite nicknames of all-time, but I believe the promise of his career is in the rear-view mirror. Mulhern is another one of those dangerous former Stirkeforce fighters who will look to get this fight on the ground and shoot for a “Submission of the Night” bonus. I’m going with Mulhern via third-round submission. Kontek: Mulhern is a dangerous grappler, but he is taking on an experienced wrestler with better striking in Story. Story will find success on the feet, but should he want to show dominance, he will plant the Strikeforce import on his back. I think it’ll head to a decision as well, with Story walking away the victor. LW: John Makdessi (10-2) vs. Daron Cruickshank (12-2) Chacon: Daron Cruickshank has won his last six fights and will look to take advantage of a four-inch reach advantage to knock out John Makdessi. Makdessi is coming off a convincing decision win over Sam Stout, but the 27-year-old will not be able to match the rush attack Cruickshank will charge him with. Kontek: Everyone thinks this is going to be a striking battle, but they forget about Cruickshank’s wrestling pedigree. Being a smart fighter, he will go right at Makdessi’s weakness—the ground game—and use his wrestling to control the Canadian for a clear-cut decision. Chase: I have to go with Cruickshank over Makdessi due to momentum. He is riding an excellent winning streak and has some excellent striking that is going to send Makdessi to the ground early and in devastating fashion. WW: Dan Miller (14-6) vs. Jordan Mein (26-8) Chase: This is a nice style match-up, pitting a striker versus a submission guy. However, I think Dan Miller will take this one, and look impressive doing so. His ground game is superior to Jordan Mein’s, and he will be able to get Mein on the ground without much trouble. Miller wins by submission. Kontek: This fight could go one of two ways. Either Mein could use his takedown defense and batter Miller on the feet for three rounds. Or, Miller puts Mein up against the fence and drags him down in an ugly affair. There is no real surefire answer there, so I will stay on the Strikeforce bandwagon and say Mein outstrikes Miller on his way to a close decision. Chacon: It’s crazy to think that Miller once fought Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia and Michael Bisping in succession. Of course, he lost all three of those fights, but the key here is the UFC experience he brings into this bout against Mein. I see MIller smothering Mein and grinding out a decision win. FW: Antonio Carvalho (15-5) vs. Darren Elkins (15-2) Kontek: Darren Elkins has been successful thus far since dropping to featherweight and has beaten some tough guys along the way. Antonio Carvalho is fighting on home soil, but that isn’t always an advantage. Elkins should employ his wrestling to earn a decision after three rounds. Chacon: I agree with Riley. Elkins has a distinct advantage when it comes to the ground and being able to control an opponent. I believe he will capitalize on a mistake by Carvalho, take him to the ground and submit him in the second round. Chase: I have to disagree with my fellow panelists and go with Carvalho on this one. I think he will benefit from being on home soil, and he will be able to deal with the wrestling of Elkins. Carvalho is the more well-rounded fighter and will get an early finish over Elkins. WW: Patrick Cote (18-8) vs. Bobby Voelker (24-8) Chacon: Patrick Cote never seems to be able to get over the hump, so to speak, when it comes to winning important fights. This should be an exciting stand-up bout, with somebody landing a vicious knockout. The former Strikeforce guys have shown how hungry they are to succeed in the UFC, and I believe Bobby Voelker will continue that trend. Look for him to come out with guns a blazin’ and knock out Cote in the first round. Chase: Cote goes back and forth in his career, gaining wins, but then losing and starting all over. He has looked pretty good recently, but I have to agree with Joe and go with Voelker on this one, due to his ferociousness and overall striking ability. I agree, he will come in hungry and eager to prove himself and make his place. Kontek: Cote has one of the hardest heads in all of MMA. He is also quite skilled with his hands and kicks. Voelker will give him a good fight, but Cote’s experience against top-level guys will aid him in nabbing a decision. Top Photo: Georges St-Pierre delivers ground and pound (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting) nosgoth1979 Those are some great analyses, and for the most part I agree. I have to go with Kontek and Chase’s predictions for the main event. I can’t wait until Saturday to find out though, especially now that I have a DISH Hopper because, thanks to it, this will be the first UFC I’ll get to watch in in what feels like forever. Being a DISH employee, I was super excited when we released the Hopper. One of the reasons is because it can record up to six shows at once during primetime, so my wife can record her shows, the kids will be watching theirs, and I’ll be able to focus on the fights in my man-cave at the same time!