UFC 158 Welterweight Bout Line Analysis

UFC 158UFC 158, scheduled for the Bell Centre in Montreal on March 16th, will go down next weekend. The event is headlined by the eighth Welterweight Title defense of champion Georges St-Pierre, as he takes on the talented and brash Nick Diaz. The main card also features other top welterweights in action, as Carlos Condit takes on Johny Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger battles Nathan Marquardt. As so many others over the past 12-months, this card has changed from the original lineup, as previously Condit was slated to face the now injured Rory MacDonald and Hendricks was fighting Ellenberger. Those changes, as well as the repercussions this event could have on the weight class have been well-documented, so let’s look at the lines over at Several Bookmakers for the fights we are going to see. As expected, Diaz (26-8, 1 NC) is a major underdog against St-Pierre (23-2). The Champion is a -500 favorite, with the pay back on Diaz at +400. This match is going to come down to just a few grappling nuances, because it is highly likely to take place on the mat. Can St-Pierre take Diaz out with his ground and pound, or will he be forced to fight the full 25 minutes for a sixth consecutive time? Is Nick Diaz going to be able to submit St-Pierre, who possesses a supremely technical ground game? Chances are that St-Pierre will handle the bout a lot like he did the Condit fight, where he did not get into prolonged standing exchanges. Diaz is easier to take down than Condit, and with the Cesar Gracie disciple’s vaunted cardio and technical volume punching, St-Pierre wants to avoid letting this turn into a boxing match. St-Pierre has a proven track record of going five rounds and staying safe, so despite the pre-fight talk, it is likely we’ll see another example of this. Condit is a dangerous ground fighter, and though St-Pierre caught a lot of strikes to the head in that fight, he wasn’t really threatened with a submission. Diaz has a solid submission arsenal that is proven in MMA, so that is where the true test will come, and Diaz will be a test for the full five rounds. The bottom line is this match likely goes similarly to the last time a Diaz brother fought for a title, as Nate Diaz lost to Benson Henderson by being outwrestled and controlled for the duration of that bout. Diaz will fight the full five rounds, but he is going to be out matched by a better athlete who is able to control the match and render parts of Diaz’ game ineffective. The Condit-Hendricks fight comes in very close to a pick ’em. As it currently sits, Hendricks (14-1) is a -135 favorite with Condit (28-6) at +115. The next contender for the welterweight title will likely come from this match, especially if Hendricks does roll to a victory. Condit is coming off a fight with St-Pierre, where he arguably presented the champion with his toughest fight. St-Pierre was banged up after that match, but the UFC might choose to wait on that rematch in the event of a Condit victory here. Instead, Condit versus Demian Maia is an intriguing prospect for the next ’round’ of matches. Both Condit and Hendricks are proven in long fights, and both have tools they can use to finish a fight at almost anytime. Condit brings a more varied, diverse attack while Hendricks has knock-you-stiff KO power in his hands – particularly his left – and he has the cardio to retain that power throughout a fight. If the money comes in on Hendricks and the spread widens a bit, there may be good reason to look at Condit – who has never been knocked out – as an underdog bet here. The line is not much wider for Ellenberger-Marquardt, as Ellenberger (28-6) is less than a 2-to-1 favorite at -165, with Marquardt (32-11-2) returning +145. Marquardt is coming off a loss at the Strikeforce finale where he dropped that organization’s welterweight belt to Tarec Saffiedine via unanimous decision. As a result, despite the prominent booking, Marquardt may be fighting for his UFC life in this fight. Ellenberger is a juggernaut – as his nickname implies – but he is not as fearsome as the fight extends itself into the later rounds, where he noticeably slows. If Ellenberger cannot take Marquardt out in the opening round, it is anyone’s fight going into rounds 2 and 3. Marquardt may have lost against Saffiedine, but he is a very experienced veteran who has fought at the top levels for a long time. The only person who has ever KO’d Marquardt in his forty-plus fight MMA career is Anderson Silva, so that would put Ellenberger in pretty lofty company if he could accomplish the feat. Like the Condit-Hendricks match, if this spread widens, the underdog may be worth a look, as Marquardt could certainly steal the last two rounds as Ellenberger tires. Marquardt owns a 185 lb win over Demian Maia, and would be a solid potential opponent for Maia should he defeat Ellenberger. UFC President Dana White referred to the originally scheduled matches as a tournament of sorts, with Brazilian Demian Maia’s dominance of Jon Fitch marking the fourth leg of the unofficial bracket. Maia, who vaulted himself towards the top of the division – and sent Fitch packing from the UFC – is now waiting to be joined by three more winners come March 16th. If the organization holds true to their president’s words, we could be in store for some fantastic fights at welterweight through the remainder of 2013.

Written by Miguel

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