We’ve managed to assemble a handful of ProMMAnow.com’s staff to share their thoughts and predictions for UFC 158 going down Saturday in Montreal. We’ve got Mr. St-Pierre putting his welterweight title on the line against Mr. happy-go-lucky himself, Nick Diaz. We’ve got Johny Hendricks battling Carlos Condit for a next shot at the title, Then we’ve got Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt breathing down their necks. We give our predictions on these fights, the rest of the main card, and one bonus pick from the prelims. As an added bonus, pro fighter Mike “Biggie” Rhodes also joins us for his picks as well.
Georges St-Pierre (23-2) vs. Nick Diaz (27-8-1)
KELVIN HUNT: As long as GSP fights the way he normally does(strikes just enough to set up his takedowns)…he’s going to maul Diaz for five rounds. There’s a small chance Diaz could rock GSP with a punch and very little chance of him catching him in a submission. GSP via dominating decision.
BRIAN FURBY: GSP wins via unanimous decision
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: I love the Diaz brothers, and watching Nick’s laser guided hands go to work is a thing of beauty. Problem is that boxing does him very little good when he’s on his back, and GSP isn’t going to be falling into any sneaky gogoplatas anytime soon. Expect GSP to smother him from the top for five rounds; expect Nick to be extremely pissed off by this; expect to hear the word p***y at least twice in the post-fight interview. GSP by decision
JACK BRATCHER: I don’t see Georges being able to finish Nick, but I think everyone is pretty sure how this fight is going to go. Georges’ wrestling will make the difference. It’s well known that is the weakest part of Nick’s game. Nick hasn’t fought any wrestler of any note since Sean Sherk back in 2006 at UFC 59 — and we know what happened there — Sherk won the unanimous decision and I see this fight going pretty similar. Yes, Nick has submission skills but GSP has only lost once via submission, that was an armbar to Matt Hughes in 2004 — nearly a decade ago. The one wildcard is if Nick can rattle GSP’s game plan and get him emotional but I don’t see it happening. GSP wins via decision.
DENNY HODGE: As much as I want to see “GSP” and Nick Diaz take the center of the octagon and throw down, I know that St. Pierre will use his all around technical game to avoid the cumulative striking attack of Diaz. I expect St. Pierre to use his jab and kicks to keep Diaz at bay, while setting up his takedowns strategically as Diaz comes forward looking to engage. Diaz will land with his punches as he always does, but will be fighting off his back round after round. His submission game will pose a threat to St. Pierre, but in the end, the constant pressure from “GSP” will earn him yet another successful title defense. St. Pierre by decision.
MICHAEL “BIGGIE” RHODES: St. Pierre by TKO, Round 4.
Carlos Condit (28-6) vs. Johny Hendricks (14-1)
KELVIN HUNT: I think Hendricks realizes that the easiest and safest thing to do is use his wrestling to grind out a decision win against Condit. Condit is too technical and has too good of a chin to simply rely on ‘catching’ Condit with one punch to knock him out. I think Hendricks takes the Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley strategy to win a decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Hendricks wins via KO
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: Hendricks has everything to lose in this one. He’s done everything right on the road to number one contender status, and dropping this fight, which is a very real possibility, would create an awful repetitive logjam at the top of the 170lbs division. If only for the sake of the viewers and home and Hendricks’ sanity… Hendricks by decision
JACK BRATCHER: There’s something to be said for momentum and Johny Hendricks certainly has a lot of it right now. Hendricks is hungry for that title shot and I think he’ll use more of his wrestling here than we are used to from him. Kampmann is a pretty technical striker too, like Condit, and Hendricks knocked him out, so I would not be surprised if he became the first person to stop Condit via strikes, but ultimately I think Hendricks will get the decision win.
DENNY HODGE: Johny Hendricks has shown that he can win a fight with one punch, but if he looks for the homerun too much against Carlos Condit, it could be a short night for him. The takedowns of Hendricks could prove to make the difference in this fight, but I have a feeling he will look for a big finish on the feet. Condit can score from all angles and his kicks are always dangerous, as well as his short hooks inside. Look for Condit to use his movement to score from the outside, while Hendricks stalks looking to land a big shot. The counter game of Condit will be what wins this fight as he catches Hendricks leaping in to close the distance. Condit by TKO.
MICHAEL “BIGGIE” RHODES: Johny Hendricks by KO, late first round.
Jake Ellenberger (28-6) vs. Nate Marquardt (35-11-2)
KELVIN HUNT: Key to this fight is Ellenberger’s gas tank. If he gases, it’s possible that Marquardt could finish him late. I think he does enough in the first two rounds and hangs on for the decision win. Ellenberger via decision
BRIAN FURBY: Ellenberger wins via KO
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: This is a tough fight to call, but I like Marquardt’s size advantage to keep it fairly even on the ground. It’s concerning that he didn’t put that on display in his outing against Saffiedine, but I believe Marquardt returns to form in this one. Marquardt by decision
JACK BRATCHER: The question here is which Marquardt will show up? If it’s the one who fought Tarec Saffiedine in his last fight, he’s going to get worked. If it’s the Marquardt who destroyed Tyron Woodley last July, Ellenberger is in trouble. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Marquardt will be back on track and get the TKO win.
DENNY HODGE: Consistency has often been a problem for Nate Marquardt, and he will need a good start against Jake Ellenberger. Marquardt has the more technical striking with a diverse attack while Ellenberger throws looping shots at times, but it will be the takedowns that determine this fight. Look for Ellenberger to exchange enough to set up his takedowns. From there he will look to do damage with his aggressive ground-and-pound game, while Marquardt will look to get back to his feet. He will find ways to create space and get back to his stand up, but overall Ellenberger will grind out and wear down Marqaurdt for the victory. Ellenberger wins by decision.
MICHAEL “BIGGIE” RHODES: Nate Marquardt by TKO, second round.
Nick Ring (13-1) vs. Chris Camozzi (18-5)
KELVIN HUNT: Camozzi is on the rise and Ring hasn’t looked to good in his last two fights. I’m riding with Camozzi in this one.
BRIAN FURBY: Ring wins via unanimous decision
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: Ring’s more refined jiu jitsu game makes the difference in this one. Ring by submission
JACK BRATCHER: Ring is on the rise. With only one loss on his record — to Tim Boetsch via decision, and coming off a unanimous decision win over Court McGee, Ring is on the verge of hitting that top tier. Camozzi is coming off three straight wins in 2012, most recently defeating Luiz Cane via decision. I’m going with Ring here via decision.
DENNY HODGE: In a battle of “TUF 11″ alums, both Chris Camozzi and Nick Ring will look to extend their current win streaks. Camozzi has won 3 straight while Ring is coming off a controversial decision victory in his last outing. Both guys will stand and trade in this one, with Camozzi getting the better of the exchanges early. Look for Ring to mix in takedowns and work his ground game with success, while scoring on the feet while standing. Nick Ring by decision.
MICHAEL “BIGGIE” RHODES: Chris Camozzi by submission, first round.
Mike Ricci (8-3) vs. Colin Fletcher (9-2)
KELVIN HUNT: Mike Ricci via decision
BRIAN FURBY: Ricci wins via KO
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: Sometimes it’s okay to admit that being a TUF finalist doesn’t automatically make one a UFC caliber talent. Ricci by submission
JACK BRATCHER: Ricci has more power in his striking and has better wrestling. Fletcher’s strong point is his submission game. Both guys’ jobs could be on the line here as they both are coming off losses in their UFC debuts in their respective TUF Finales. But there can be only one. I’m going with Mike Ricci via TKO.
DENNY HODGE: Mike Ricci will show how well rounded he is in this fight with Colin Fletcher. Fletcher will go to his kicks early, but Ricci will present a problem with more diverse striking while alternating in takedowns. Ricci will control the action on the mat and score enough on the feet to earn his first win in the octagon.
MICHAEL “BIGGIE” RHODES: Mike Ricci by decision.
John Makdessi (10-2) vs. Daron Cruickshank (12-2)
KELVIN HUNT: John Makdessi via decision
BRIAN FURBY: Makdessi wins via unanimous decision
JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: Everyone laughed at Cruickshank’s Taekwondo background until he kicked Henry Martinez into the next decade. Cruickshank by (T)KO
JACK BRATCHER: Makdessi has won most of his fights via KO. So has Cruickshank. But Cruickshank is on a different level than most fighters when it comes to striking. He’s a real pleasure to watch and I’ve got him taking Makdessi out to pick up his third straight win inside the UFC Octagon. Pick: Cruickshank wins via TKO.