Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit
Dan Rose: This pick should be short and sweet, but I like to talk, so it won’t be. Carlos Condit is a tremendous fighter with a killer instinct and devastating strikes. He can beat anyone in the world at 170 on any given night, except for GSP, and especially GSP in Montreal. I love Condit, and have been a huge fan since he was the WEC champion, but I think he's just in over his head here.
I happen think St Pierre is as mentally tough as anyone who’s ever fought in the sport. I think he is driven by an unreasonable fear to not be embarrassed ever again like he was against Serra. I think that fear is turned into a work ethic that is not matched by anyone else in MMA, and in turn, results that are predictable and spectacular. GSP will out-point Condit standing, by using a piston driven jab and head movement. He will take Condit down at will, as he’s done everyone else in the sport. He likely won’t finish the game Condit, but this will be another one sided, five round drubbing from GSP.
Dave Reno: This is the easiest winner for me to pick off this entire 26-man fight card. I've been telling folks for the past couple of years that Carlos Condit will be the man to dethrone St. Pierre and there is no turning back now. Why would I turn back? I feel just as confident about this pick as I did before Condit added Kim and Diaz to his victims list. Here's why.
St. Pierre's take downs are more explosive than anyone's in the game. Now, are they as explosive as they were eighteen months ago before he underwent surgery on his ACL? I couldn't tell you, but if I were a betting man I'd say that GSP should have no problem taking Condit down tomorrow night if he so chooses. When he does get Condit to the ground, it won't be a picnic. St. Pierre has made a living out of getting guys on the ground and having his way with them. In Condit, he'll be dealing with a guy that is just as active off his back as he is on his toes. Condit will be looking to cut GSP open with elbows from the bottom, he'll be looking to end the fight with a submission, basically - he'll be looking to make St. Pierre pay for taking him down. This isn't a guy who will be merely looking to hang with GSP on the ground like a Dan Hardy, or a guy like B.J. Penn who St. Pierre could wear down after a round or two on the ground due to a gross size and strength advantage. Condit's motor, and his drive are what make him just as dangerous whether you plant him down on his ass or if he's standing in front of you trying to take your head off while on his own ten toes. He didn't slip, fall and get nicknamed "The Natural Born Killer" just because it sounds cool.
A lot has been made of St. Pierre training with Tiger Muay Thai in preparation for his bout with Condit. Again, this is another example of why Georges has remained champion for so long. He's the smartest fighter in the game. Condit's dangerous muay thai is head and shoulders above St. Pierre's and he knew it, so he went out and got the best of the best to help him prepare. It may help him over time but I just don't see it being a factor tomorrow night in Montreal. If Georges chooses to stand up for an extended period of time with Carlos he will became just another victim of the NBK, and his next fight will be that of the #1 contender variety with Nick Diaz for a shot at getting his old belt back. I do not see this bout going five-rounds. Carlos Condit is a finisher, and tomorrow night he will do just that. Condit will welcome St. Pierre back to the Octagon with a finish that will give little kids in GSP headbands nightmares for days.
Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks
Rose: I don’t know what it is about Johny Hendricks that makes me want to see Kampmann knock him out, but I do. These are both EXCELLENT fighters, on top of their game. I think Hendricks is very dangerous, and with his beard looks like he should be mining for gold with the Hoffman clan in Alaska. (Yes, that’s a Goldrush mention for you fans out there.) He’s a gifted wrestler, has power in his punches and has a ton of heart. I think his one punch KO of Fitch is more of a blip on the radar, rather than something you can expect to see from him though.
Martin Kampmann has good standup, long limbs, good kicks, and knees and will come directly Hendricks. Kampmann’s best bet would be keeping Hendricks off balance with kicks, and this eliminating his ability to shoot for takedowns. If Kampmann can force a standup fight, he’ll win it, likely by TKO. If he isn’t able to stuff the takedown, it could be a long night for Kampmann. Bottom line is I think Kampmann will keep the fight on his feet and batter Hendricks, stopping him by TKO in the second round.
Reno: The first three words that come to mind when I think about Kampmann - hardcore, violence, comebacks. The first three words that come to mind when I think about Hendricks - power, left, beard. The only two words that I think about when it comes to this match up - DOG - FIGHT.
This has the potential to be a Jim Ross slobberknocker special from the get go. Remember when I said GSP vs. Condit was the easiest fight for me personally to pick on this card? Kampmann vs. Hendricks is the toughest fight for me to pick this year. I've been thinking about it often for the last couple days now and there are just so many ways it could end. Hendricks catches Kampmann early with that power left and gives him a taste of what Jon Fitch ate last December in Vegas, putting him to sleep in seconds. Or maybe Kampmann likes the taste, and the Dutch kickboxing extraordinaire offers him a hearty helping of knee to the face in return. I'd bet on the latter.
I see Hendricks getting his early but Kampmann doing what Kampmann does, taking punishment and coming back with well timed, and placed muay thai all over the face of men who think they have him finished. I like Kampmann to end this one via some of the good old fashioned ultraviolence, thus earning himself a shot at the UFC welterweight championship in 2013.
Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor
Rose: Tom Lawlor has his hands full in this one. Lawlor is going to have a serious reach disadvantage here, and he’ll struggle to get inside and take Carmont down. You might think Lawlor wants to stand and bang here, but he would be doing so at his own peril I think. Lawlor should want to take this fight down, and outwork Francis for a victory or perhaps a late round submission.
I think Carmont is improving as a fighter, and at 6 foot 3, he’s a big middleweight and with a reach of 78 inches, he’s able to work his jab and cross from distance. That reach is the same as Kendall Grove, and we’ve seen him utilize his reach and be effective. Carmont is 19-7, but is currently riding an eight fight win streak. Make it nine, as Carmont will TKO Filthy Tom Lawlor Saturday night in the first round.
Reno: Don't get it twisted, Tom Lawlor may be more well known for his weigh-in entrances and his penchant for pro-wrestling than his work inside the Octagon. His out of the cage theatrics are always memorable to say the least. That said, the guy can knockout you out standing, (just ask Jason MacDonald) and he can outwrestle and submit you if you want to test him on the ground.
The only thing "Filthy" about this fight though will be Carmont's ever-improving stand up game. The 31-year-old Tristar soldier has really hit his stride of late and he won't take a step back in front of Montreal tomorrow night. Carmont will finish Lawlor via whatever comes first - KO, TKO, or submission. Take your pick.
Costa Philippou vs. Nick Ring
Rose: Nick Ring is 13-1 in his MMA career, but should be 12-2, because let’s be honest, he lost the Fukuda fight and was given a gift decision victory. That said, he looked good in his last outing against Court McGee. He has some talent, and does a lot well, but he’s going to get pasted by Philippou Saturday night.
Constantinos Philippou has excellent striking and footwork. He is trained by Ray Longo and has a head like a cement block. In his past couple of fights, he’s unleashed a ton of damage, but hasn’t got the stop. That ends this Saturday. Philippou over Nick Ring by Hulk-Smash Knockout of the Night!
Reno: I've been a pretty big fan of Nick Ring since that season on the Ultimate Fighter when he added some much needed sassiness to the show. Aside from his impressive performance against Court McGee this past summer in Calgary, Ring has been kind of humming along in his UFC career. He may be surviving but he's looked a little slow doing it, skating by on natural talent and the ability to, well, survive and eeek out decisions that sometimes he doesn't even deserve (ask Riki Fukada). When he steps into the cage with Costa Philippou tomorrow he's in for a rude awakening.
Look for the Serra-Longo product to use his speed and footwork to set up a shot that will make Nick Ring take an unplanned beauty nap in front of 17,000 plus. Philippou via KO.
Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza Rose: I hope it’s okay that my boss Mr. Reno that I don’t really care about this fight, like, at all. Pablo Garza looks like a scarecrow, and that scares me. Hominick sometimes grows a second head on his forehead, and that scares me. These guys are a combined 0-5 in this past five fights, so I don’t really see the point.
I guess the good news is the loser will likely be out of the cage and my nightmares for a while. If I was pinned down, and asked to have my results penned down…see what I did there…I’d have to go with Hominick by TKO in this one.
Reno: Unlike Rosey, I do like this fight, but I'll admit that a fight like Bocek vs. dos Anjos would be more deserving of being on the main card.
Hominick has seen his career go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in record time. He got the biggest cheers of the night from the largest crowd in mma history when he made that spirited fifth round effort against Jose Aldo last April in Toronto. He followed it up by getting KO'ed by a Zombie in 7-seconds later in the year and then dropping a split-decision to heavy underdog Eddie Yagin in Atlanta in what was a really entertaining fight. The flying-triangle choke Garza put on Yves Jabouin to open up that classic UFC 129 card in Toronto last April was the last great thing we've seen out of "The Scarecrow". Since then he's dropped two consecutive against two stellar opponents and I believe he'll make it three in a row tomorrow night. Hominick gets back on track with a TKO victory, and follows it up with a bunch of unnecessary push ups.
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photo via - @danawhite