It’s that time again folks. The ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) staff have stared into their crystal balls and given obeisance unto the oracles of prognostication to bring to you the very best in knowledge and prediction surrounding Saturday’s UFC 154 card that features Georges St-Pierre taking on Carlos Condit in a welterweight title unification bout in the main event.
And while we may not be completely perfect in our foreknowledge of fight-endings and knockout-to-submission ratios, that is only because the fighters have free will and one cheer for “put him in a body bag Georges!” could sway GSP’s decision to lay and pray, to get up and finish the fight via TKO. So situations like that must be taken into account whenever it may appear our predictions are so-called “wrong”. In other words, even when we’re wrong, we’re right.
Georges St-Pierre (22-2) vs. Carlos Condit (28-5)
ODDS: St-Pierre -335 vs. Condit +275
KELVIN HUNT: The only way I see Condit winning is if GSP’s cardio isn’t on point due to the long layoff(which would mean his knee isn’t fully healed). I think GSP’s biggest strength(wrestling) going up against Condit’s biggest weakness(takedown defense) will be the difference. GSP passes to half guard almost immediately and Condit will have nothing for him there. GSP via unanimous decision.
JAY CEE: I will try to keep this as short as possible. GSP, regardless of whether he has had an injury, will definitely be ready for this fight. One of the reasons why he has been so successful is because he approaches fights with a carefully structured and well planned strategy. Ring rust can effect many fighters, but with the belt on the line I am certain that GSP has done everything possible to ensure he is ready for Condit. Carlos is not an easy fighter to beat, and like GSP, he is a very disciplined mixed martial artist. This may be one of the reasons why the fight could be tough for St-Pierre. Both men are smart fighters and can adapt well when faced with a challenging opponent. I personally feel that Georges will win this bout as his time-off seems to have re-ignited his passion for the sport. Carlos poses a big threat but St-Pierre has been king of the division for some time and it will not be easy for Condit to take the thrown. PICK: GSP wins via Decision.
DENNY HODGE: GSP will have to shake off his ring rust quickly in this fight. He also has to trust that his knee is 100% in a full speed, full contact battle. GSP should be good to go, but Condit would be wise to test that knee and leg with kicks early. He risks getting taken down if he opens up with kicks, but he should be aggressive enough to take chances on winning the exchanges on the feet, knowing that at some point he will have to get off of his back to win. Look for GSP to get his takedowns, but with Condit’s active guard, expect the interim champ to get back to his feet and land crisp combinations en route to a tough fought decision victory. Condit by decision.
CHAD BUSH: St-Pierre and Condit will take the fight all the way to decision with St-Pierre winning.
RICHARD MANN: Like pretty much everyone who fights St. Pierre, Condit really only has one path to victory in this fight. He can try to jump on the champion early and finish the fight. Even though that strategy worked for Matt Serra no one else has been able to duplicate it since. The problem with that plan is that it plays right into what St. Pierre does best. If someone plants their feet and tries to land a punishing blow, St. Pierre will simply change levels and score a takedown. Condit has never been a takedown stuffer, because he has such a dynamic sweep game. However, he will struggle on the bottom of St. Pierre and drop a decision. St. Pierre by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Carlos Condit.
GARY THOMAS: So much hype for the return of GSP yet i feel like the spotlight needs to be on Carlos Condit. Condit has taken out some of the best to get to this point. With no warm up, no gimme challenge for the repaired knee of Mr. Snooze himself GSP, can he bring back that fire that he had after he lost to Matt Serra. I feel as if he fights not to lose he will get finished. Hard to call. I like the changing of the guard and a big “F” you to the superfight talk. Pick – Carlos Condit via decision.
JACK BRATCHER: GSP’s ability to mix it up and time his takedowns perfectly I think is one of his strongest assets. I also think he’s going to have to put Condit on his back if he is to win this fight. And even if he does put Condit on his back, there’s a good chance he could get submitted. There’s going to be so much pressure on Georges in this fight and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it all. Condit’s finishing percentage is something Georges would certainly like to have — out of Condit’s 28 wins, only two have been via decision. With the long layoff and all the pressure, I think it sets up the perfect scenario for an upset and I think Condit’s going to finish Georges with strikes. Probably within the first three rounds.
*Special Guest Pick* SHAH BOBONIS: If GSP’s repaired knee slows down his wrestling we might see a great fight. If GSP comes back looking like the old GSP he will strike enough to get Condit to the ground time after time and grind out a decision. Hopefully he takes some chances in the GNP and submission department to make it exciting and possibly finish the fight. I’m not one of these guys that is down on GSP for playing it safe in fights. Does anyone have any idea how good you have to be at every aspect of MMA to “play it safe”? Stylistically it’s a horrible match up for Condit. The last time he fought someone who was a serious dual threat in the striking/wrestling department many people felt he lost against Ellenberger. No knock on Ellenberger but he is no GSP. I’m taking GSP by decision.
Martin Kampmann (20-5) vs. Johny Hendricks (13-1)
ODDS: Kampmann +115 vs. Hendricks -145
KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight to call. Kampmann gets rocked every fight. Hendricks has the power to knockout a mule, plus he can probably take Kampmann down if he really goes for it although his elite amateur wrestling hasn’t exactly transitioned over to MMA like you think it would. Kampmann will certainly touch him on the feet and could possibly cinch in that guillotine choke on a Hendricks takedown. I think Hendricks finishes him via TKO or takes the decision.
JAY CEE: Both of these guys are on solid runs at the moment, so this fight really is one to watch for the welterweight division. Kampmann is a really well rounded fighter who can finish via TKO or submission. He will definitely hold the advantage in the jiu jitsu department, but Hendricks will hold the advantage in the wrestling and grappling department. The former NCAA champion may look to grind down Kampmann or he may go for the knockout finish. Hendricks has recently showcased some different areas of his game that represent a real threat to his opponents, so it will be interesting to see what kind of game plan and approach he tries to implement in this fight. PICK: Hendricks wins via Decision.
DENNY HODGE: Johny Hendricks has worked with Martin Kampmann in the past, so he knows the wrestling ability of his opponent well. That being said, Kampmann has really improved all around, including being very tough in wrestling situations. Kampmann will have a decided edge on the feet, and can land with a diversity of striking attacks at range. He’s also dangerous in the clinch with knees. His submission game is solid as well, and he will need that skill set from his back to at least threaten Hendricks enough with submissions to get back to his feet. Hendricks possesses one-punch knockout power, but if he leans on his big left hand too much he will get picked apart. Look for Hendricks to get takedowns in a grinding battle, but expect Kampmann to score at will on the feet. After a back and forth battle, Kampmann takes it on the cards. Kampmann by decision.
CHAD BUSH: Kampmann and Hendricks will take the fight to decision with the fight going to Hendricks.
RICHARD MANN: Kampmann’s back-to-back come from behind wins are certainly something to marvel at. With that being said, he was getting pasted for the majority of his last two fights. Hendricks does not have the notorious cardio issues of Jake Ellenberger, and hopefully he can avoid a bone-headed mistake like the one Thiago Alves made. Hendricks should be able to use his wrestling to control this fight. Even when Kampmann stops a takedown, he ends up stuffed against the cage unable to move. He struggle with Diego Sanchez in this fashion, and he is not half the wrestler that Hendricks is. Hendricks by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Johny Hendricks.
GARY THOMAS: Johnny Hendricks shocked the world with a KO over Jon Fitch and backed it up with a win over Josh Kosheck. He’s tough but after seeing him go the distance with Kos I thought he still had a ton of room for improvement. He will need that when he faces Martin Kampmann. Martin can finish fights as well as withstand beatings. If Hendricks can’t put him away quick this fight favors Kampmann. The longer you let him hang around the more likely it is he will finish you. I don’t see Hendricks ending it in the first so the nod will have to go to Kampmann. Pick – Martin Kampmann via TKO in the 3rd.
JACK BRATCHER: Kampmann is the more technical striker and he’s got a submission advantage in this fight. However, I like Hendricks’ wrestling and power advantage. Both guys have been on a tear and have nice win streaks going. Here’s what I don’t like. Kampmann hasn’t had a three fight win streak since 2008. Now he does. Can he capitalize? Is now his time? Has he continued to improve? I’m not sure. But I know Hendricks has. This could be a close fight but I’m leaning toward Hendricks via decision — or possibly even a knockout.
Francis Carmont (19-7) vs. Tom Lawlor (8-4)
ODDS: Carmont -275 vs. Lawlor +215
KELVIN HUNT: Carmont is a huge middleweight with very good takedown defense and a huge reach advantage. He’s fought fighters similar to Lawlor in the past and won with no problems. He really seems to be coming into his own. I think Carmont takes a gassing Lawlor out in the second round via submission.
JAY CEE: Francis Carmont wins via Submission.
DENNY HODGE: Francis Carmont is on a roll. 8 straight wins, 3-0 in the UFC with finishes in his last two outings by submission. Tom Lawlor is tough as nails, but needs this victory to establish some sort of momentum and consistency in his up-and-down UFC career. Lawlor has power in his hands and will look to capitalize should Carmont lose focus like he is prone to do. Look for Carmont to struggle early trying to take Lawlor to the mat, but eventually his physicality will wear down Lawlor, giving Carmont free reign to hunt for submissions while alternating his ground-and-pound game. Carmont by TKO.
CHAD BUSH: Carmont will tap Lawlor out in the 2nd round.
RICHARD MANN: This represents a mild step up in competition for Carmont. Lawlor is certainly the best wrestler that Carmont has faced. With the exception of the Joe Doerksen fight, Lawlor only really struggles when faced with better opposition. He is normally able to take advantage of guys that do not outclass him on the ground or on the feet. This as a potential to be a fun fight, and Lawlor should be able to secure a submission stoppage if he does not run out of gas. Lawlor by submission.
BRIAN FURBY: Francis Carmont.
GARY THOMAS: Tom Lawlor is such a good dude to watch. Entertaining and tough. He’s been so inconsistent in his career though. Carmont hasn’t lost since 2008 and that’s a model of consistency. Look for Carmont to finish this in the first round with the best finisher in the game, rear naked choke.
JACK BRATCHER: Carmont has been on a tear with eight straight wins, three inside the UFC Octagon where he remains undefeated. Lawlor has won two of his last five. Everyone is always interested to see what crazy outfit Lawlor is going to wear to weigh-ins or in his walkout to the cage. At least it creates something to stick in people’s minds. Carmont takes this fight either via submission or decision.
Nick Ring (13-1) vs. Constantinos Philippou (11-2)
ODDS: Ring +205 vs. Philippou -255
KELVIN HUNT: Philippou is the larger more powerful fighter. They have common opponents and Philippou has won decisively whereas Ring arguably lost both of those fights. Philippou will keep it standing and punish Ring with power shots. Ring is durable, so Philippou takes the unanimous decision.
JAY CEE: When first looking at this fight on paper I would have predicted that it could go the distance. Both me have good cardio and have gone all three rounds on multiple occasions. Both guys are well rounded and possess decent stand-up, but for some reason I can see Costa Philippou scoring a TKO in this one. PICK: Costa Philippou wins via TKO.
DENNY HODGE: Nick Ring has had the scorecards go his way a couple of times, and will need to be at his best against the dangerous Costa Philippou. Philippou will have the power advantage in this one, but Ring will be a game opponent with his well-rounded striking experience. Ring will likely try to get this fight to the mat to test Philippou with his grappling, but will have real trouble earning takedowns against Philippou. Once that happens, look for Philippou to go to work in the pocket with big combinations, taking Ring out in the second. Philippou by TKO.
CHAD BUSH: Ring takes Philippou with a submission in the 2nd round.
RICHARD MANN: Ring’s circling style got him into trouble against Court McGee. Imagine how bad it with go when he faces a fighter who actually throws straight punches. It might be a bit awkward early, because neither fighter really likes to come forward. However, Philippou is the better striker and it will show. Ring might be able to get some offense going with the kicks, but it will not be enough. Philippou by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Constantinos Philippou.
GARY THOMAS: A guy on the rise in the middleweight class has to be Costa Philippou. He’s tough and can find ways to grind out wins. Nick Ring is tough and presents some challenges that make this a great feature fight on the card. I am going out on a limb and going with Ring to stop Philippou’s streak and give the crowd a good fight. Pick – Ring via submission in the 2nd round.
JACK BRATCHER: Nick Ring has the submission advantage while Philippou has the stand-up and power advantage. Ring did go three rounds with Tim Boetsch without getting stopped and that’s saying something. The guy is tough, but Philippou should be able to do enough on the feet, keep it standing for the most part and win the decision.
Mark Hominick (20-11) vs. Pablo Garza (11-3)
ODDS: Hominick -300 vs. Garza +240
KELVIN HUNT: Garza can’t keep stay off his back it seems, but Hominick will likely stand with him. Hominick’s footwork and technical striking will be the difference here as long as he avoids getting caught with a wild punch/flying knee. Hominick via decision.
JAY CEE: I think it is safe to say that jobs are on the line in this fight. Since losing to Jose Aldo back in April 2011, Mark Hominick has been on a skid, dropping losses to The Korean Zombie and Eddie Yagin. He really needs to regain the form he had back when he was competing for the WEC. If the old Mark Hominick turns up then we could see an early submission or TKO, and it really is now or never for the Canadian native. Pablo Garza is also in need of a win, the submission specialist has lost his last two fights and really needs to get back on track. In the past he has been able to finish many opponents with an early submission, so If Garza can catch Hominick off guard then we could see an early finish in this bout. Both guys know what is on the line and need to show up at their best. PICK: Hominick wins via TKO.
DENNY HODGE: This bout could determine the UFC future for the loser as both guys desperately need a win. Hominick is really in a rut, but should have an opportunity in this one to put on a show. Garza will have a huge reach advantage, but Hominick should be able to land just about whatever he wants on the feet. Garza’s best hope is to take the fight to the mat, but he will have a difficult time getting Hominick to the mat in this one. Look for Hominick to come out and take control quickly before getting the TKO victory. Hominick by TKO.
CHAD BUSH: Garza will submit Hominick in the 1st Round.
RICHARD MANN: Garza’s two wins in the UFC came because he was a much better striker than Fredson Paixao and a much better grappler than Yves Jabouin. Without those obvious advantages he has not been able to pick up a decision. Hominick will be able to keep distance on the feet and stop his three-fight skid with a striking-based decision. Hominick by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Mark Hominick.
GARY THOMAS: Don’t let a 3 fight skid scare you from cheering for Hominick. He’s got the stones to go toe to toe with anyone. Garza hasn’t been that impressive since his flying triangle choke. I like Hominick with the home court advantage to push him to the edge. Pick – Hominick via decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Garza got submitted by Zhang Tiequan. That’s not good considering he’s only one of two people Zhang has beaten under the Zuffa banner. Hominick just has a big experience advantage against tougher competition. Hominick’s back is against the wall here and this is the type of fight he needs to get back on track. Hominick should finish Garza via TKO.
*Special Guest Pick* SHAH BOBONIS: Not only do both these guys like to bang but they might be fighting for their jobs. Garza is 2-3 under Zuffa and has lost his last two in the octagon, while Hominick is trying to avoid his fourth straight loss. Guys fighting for their UFC lives always make for a good scrap. While Hominck is more polished on the feet Garza brings an awkward aggressive attack which seems tough to deal with. I’m taking Hominick by TKO. Also, I want to wish Tom Lawlor good luck and watch out for the kimura series, Carmont used a flawless kimura transition in his last fight. Also looking forward to Costas Philippou fighting but I think his fight is going to be very one sided so that’s all Ill say about that.
Darren Elkins (14-2) vs. Steven Siler (21-9)
ODDS: Elkins -120 vs. Siler -110
KELVIN HUNT: Tough fight to call here. Elkins is super tough and hard to finish whereas Siler is the aggressor when it comes to striking. I really think Siler is coming into his own and is gaining confidence. I’m going with Siler via submission.
JAY CEE: I think this is a really good match-up that should actually be very close. Experience will play a big factor, which makes me lean towards Darren Elkins. I think this one will go the distance with Elkins coming out the more dominant fighter. PICK: Darren Elkins wins via Decision.
DENNY HODGE: Both guys come in with plenty of momentum, having won 3 straight fights in the UFC. Siler is undefeated since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and really made a name for himself by defeating Cole Miller at UFC on FX 2 back in May. This should be an interesting fight on the feet as both guys will stand in the pocket and throw down. Look for Siler to mix up his attack and get the fight to the mat after testing the waters on the feet. From there, he will cinch up a submission and move to 4-0 in the UFC. Siler by submission.
CHAD BUSH: Siler and Elkins will go to decision with Elkins pulling the win.
RICHARD MANN: Siler comes forward and throws with surprisingly accurate strikes. If Elkins is able to get takedowns he has a chance, but Siler also mostly manages to stay on his feet. Look for this fight to resemble Elkins’ fight with Michihiro Omigawa, but with the right guy getting the decision. Siler by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Steven Siler.
GARY THOMAS: Steven Siler has an opportunity to rise in the featherweight class. Rolling off three in a row post TUF he has himself in a good position. Elkins is a banger and i think that it will be a good test of the standup. Going to the ground I believe Siler leaves with a limb.Fight of the night candidate on paper I like Siler moving up in the division. Pick – Siler via submission round 3.
JACK BRATCHER: Steven Siler is an enigma and it’s why I wanted to put this one prelim bout on our picks. His progression since The Ultimate Fighter has been fun to watch. He somehow finds ways to win that always surprise me. Nicknamed the “Miller Killer” he holds wins over Cole and Micah Miller, which is pretty impressive. Think about this… Siler is 25… he’s been fighting professionally since 2005. He’s got a great team around him at Pit Elevated and although Elkins is far from a pushover and riding a very solid three fight win streak, I gotta go with Siler via submission.