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UFC 158 Weigh-Ins & Fight Picks

The Weigh-ins were filled with pleasant surprises here in Montreal.  The scales were generous as contender after contender made weight easily.  Many fighters chose to weigh in under their class limits for the day.  TJ Dillashaw, Mike Ricci, and Johnny Hendricks all had enough energy even after the cut process to spring to the stage.

Even Nick Ring, who has occasionally struggled to make weight, came in at an easy 183 as he jogged up the stairs to the scale, looking healthy and energetic.  Middleweights turned Welterweights Patrick Cote, Nate Marquardt and Dan Miller all made weight.  The only scare was Dan Miller, who came in at 172 and had to strip full naked to get to 171.

As expected, Georges St Pierre and Nick Diaz both made weight with no problems.  Also as expected, there was a brief contact made as Nick Diaz got closer to GSP than the champion would have liked.  It was the most predictable thing Diaz has done this week.  Dana White quickly interrupted the confrontation, which is destined to be replayed far and wide, but was really more smoke than fire.

After the weigh-ins, Joe Rogan asked the main eventers for their final comments.  Under a rain of boos from the crowd, Diaz opted for a prosaic “thank you” to the members of his camp and a shout out to his training partners and hometown Stockton, California.  The defending Champion meanwhile simply stated that he meant to walk the walk… and then proceeded to walk off the stage.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t available to give my picks on air this week, so it seems like a good time to do so now:

I expect Georges St Pierre to win fairly handily by decision over Nick Diaz.

Although Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks has serious potential, I call Hendricks.  Bigg Rigg’s unstoppable left hand has made him the Dan Henderson of a new generation, and while Condit’s very durable, Hendricks also has the cardio and the grappling game to back it up.  The only challenge will be to keep up with Condit’s speed and footwork, but Hendricks has so far proven himself adept at closing the distance.

Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt is an intriguing match.  In many ways, Marquardt is like a more experienced version of his opponent with the added benefit of size, but both men have flaws.  Ellenberger tends to fade in late round 2 and round 3.  Marquardt has been inconsistent of late, looking truly great against Tyron Woodley but then struggling against Tarec Saffiedine.  Look for Ellenberger to turn up the heat for the first two rounds of the fight.  Marquardt will likely take the 3, but probably not handily enough to win.  29-28 Ellenberger is my call.

Nick Ring has only struggled with grapplers strong enough to hold off his take downs.  Chris Camozzi, while game, doesn’t have the take down defense.  I’ll take Nick Ring, by decision.

Mike Ricci will have a good technical match-up with fellow striker Colin Fletcher.  However, Ricci has a better rounded offense. Ricci’s reasonably good ground game with some vicious ground and pound  combined with the hometown advantage, Ricci wins, probably by decision.

Patrick Cote vs. Bobby Voelker is likely to be short-lived.  Cote has looked tentative his last few outings.  Look for Voelker to get the knockout.

Antonio Carvalho is a friend and a good guy.  He has great finishing power in his hands and a jiujutsu black belt.  Darren Elkins is a smothering wrestler who may not be exciting, but is very effective.  As a fan, I want Carvalho to win.  As a journalist, I know it’s a tall order.  His only chance is to stuff takedowns and score a devastating punch against a tough wrestler.  Unfortunately, I have to call Darren Elkins, probably by decision.

It’s difficult for me to call Jordan Mein vs. Dan Miller since I liked both guys.  Mein’s been a prospect I’ve thought was destined for the UFC for years.  Dan Miller has always impressed me with his tough, gritty performances.  This one is close and can go either way, however I call Mein.  Miller’s biggest edge is on the ground, but he tends to do his takedowns from the clinch where Mein has dangerous striking.  Look for Mein to catch knees and elbows in close to score points.

John Makdessi should have a striking war with Daron Cruickshank.  This one should be a sleeper fight of the night, since both men can finish and neither is likely to take it to the ground.  Makdessi is likely to be faster to the punch and should have the decision in the bag, but upset potential is there as durable Cruickshank can wade through a punch or kick and through a knockout blow if Makdessi overcommits.

Rick Story is all the way down on the preliminary cards fighting the much taller jiujutsu ace Quinn Mulhern.  A year ago, calling Story would have been an absolute no brainer, but Story has looked inconsistent since then and recently struggled with Demian Maia.  My call is still Story… simply because this is a literally win-or-go-home fight for him.

TJ DIllashaw shouldn’t have that many issues with Issei Tamura.  Barring a lucky punch, the Alpha Male prospect is a significantly better wrestler.  He also has knockout power in his own strikes.  Dillashaw by TKO.   Possibly rear naked choke.

George Roop is an interesting picture as he takes on Reuben Duran.  If he handles the weight cut well, he’s durable and has surprised a number of opponents with his grit.  On the other hand, his record is very mixed and he’s cutting an insane amount of weight.  Duran is likely to be the strong man in this and I expect him to be able to outmuscle Roop for the win.

It should be a fun night on Saturday with a number of potential firefights leading to a strong main event.  This is definitely a pay per view worth watching.

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Photo Credit: per @stevejeffery, all rights reserved.


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