The UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit event will take place this Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. It’s a pretty good event on paper with some interesting matchups, and a chance for a couple of fighters to make major statements. I want to take a look at a few questions going forward, in which will hopefully get answers to after this event.
- Will Nick Diaz be able to ‘move the needle’ as a legitimate PPV draw?
The UFC has been heavily pushing Nick Diaz as of late, even featuring him on UFC Primetime, a show that’s usually reserved for more established stars like Georges St. Pierre. However, with injuries to key fighters, the UFC needs to create new stars and they seem to be pushing Diaz in that direction. The second episode of Primetime was essentially telling us that they desperately want a Diaz/St. Pierre matchup later this year. Diaz has a small fan base of diehard fans, but is probably still off the radar of many casual fans. His destruction of BJ Penn may have helped a bit, but it’ll be interesting to see what type pull his has as a PPV draw. A fight will St. Pierre would have done massive numbers, but mainly because of the draw that St. Pierre has become. Now, Diaz is fighting Carlos Condit, who’s a great fighter but is still unknown to most casual fans which means this PPV will be carried by whatever little star power Diaz has at this point. If this show does near 300,000 PPV buys, I’m sure the UFC heads would be ecstatic.
I think a lot of people may be sleeping on Mike Pierce here. Josh Koscheck has become severely one dimensional as a fighter, and seems to be living off past glory as a decorated national wrestling champion. It’s been a decade since then and obviously he’s not at the same level as a wrestler because he’s not solely training wrestling as a MMA fighter. He was getting soundly outstruck by Matt Hughes before hurting the well past his prime former champion and putting him away back at UFC 135. Mike Pierce is a tough fighter who has given top fighters like Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks all kinds of trouble. He’s three years younger than Koscheck and wanted this fight with Koscheck really bad. Be sure to keep an eye out for this one.
- Will Renan Barao become the next challenger for UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz?
Of course this is pending that Cruz defeats Urijah Faber when they fight for the third time later this year. Barao has won 27 fights in a row since losing his pro debut back in 2005. The Brazilian is a former training partner of UFC featherweight champion JoseAldo, and comes from the well respected Nova Uniao camp. He has looked really impressive during his WEC/UFC stint, going (4-0) with three finishes during that time frame. He’ll be taking on top ten bantamweight and former number one contender Scott Jorgensen. Barao will likely fight again before Faber and Cruz fight this summer. However, a win against Jorgensen could certainly position him well in the event that Faber is injured during training camp for Cruz.
–Be on the lookout for Dustin Poirier as he looks for his fifth straight win, and could be on the short list of potential opponents for UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
-Local South Carolina product Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson will be making his UFC debut at UFC 143. He is a absolute killer on the feet.