Finally after 19 months we get to see Georges St. Pierre make his Octagon return. GSP has been the king of the welterweight division for nearly five years, but the division has improved tremendously while GSP was on the shelf nursing a torn ACL.
GSP has defended his belt six straight times, but he will get his toughest test this Saturday night against Carlos Condit. "The Natural Born Killer" enters the octagon on a five-fight win streak against some very tough competition.
During his win streak he has knocked off Nick Diaz, Dong Hyun-Kim, Dan Hardy, Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger. Three of those five rank in the top-ten in the ESPN rankings among the welterweight division.
Also on the card, (20-5) Martin Kampmann takes on (13-1) Johny Hendricks to determine who gets the winner of GSP vs. Condit.
It was up in the air, but now with Anderson Silva announcing earlier today that he is going to take a year off and return late in 2013. UFC President Dana White wanted a superfight between Silva and GSP (if GSP got past Condit) but now with the news today that fight won't take place until late 2013 at the earliest. Expect a winner vs. winner match-up for the next title fight in the welterweight division even if GSP defends his belt.
The fight card is slim, but the main event and co-main event features four of the top-five welterweights in the world and makes this card worth ordering on PPV.
Before we break down the main event, let's pick apart the co-main event first.
Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann enters this fight on fire. He has reeled off three straight and is the only man to beat Carlos Condit inside the octagon.
Kampmann is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world. Of his 20 career MMA wins he has won eight by (T)KO and seven by submission.
His 11 wins inside the octagon are the third most among UFC fighters who have not fought for a title. (Bisping-13, Leben-12.) "The Hitman" is finally getting the respect he deserves and is one win away from competing for the welterweight title.
However, it is going to be tough against Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is riding a four-fight win streak and is 8-1 inside the octagon. He still has not reached him prime, and that is scary for the rest of the division.
Hendricks has the perfect formula to be one of the best fighters in the world: great wrestling and heavy hands. He taught Kampmann how to wrestle during their time training a couple years ago. Hendricks is confident he can dictate where this fight goes on Saturday night.
Of his eight wins, four of those have come by knockout. Kampmann has been known to be a slow starter, and he can't afford to do that against a heavy hitter.
Just ask Jon Fitch how that turned out.
This fight is a pick em' fight and on most betting lines Hendricks is the slight favorite (-150). I keep going back and forth on this fight, but I think Hendricks wrestling will be the difference. Hendricks has a solid chin and it will be tough for Kampmann to finish Hendricks on the feet. Hendricks has the edge in power and his wrestling is a distinct advantage.
Expect Hendricks to earn a tough decision win on Saturday night to put him in line for the next title shot. His experience training with Kampmann will be a big advantage for Hendricks inside the octagon.
Now to one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history: (22-2) GSP vs. (28-5) Condit.
There are two fighters that can bounce back from such a long layoff, Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre. They are the two most athletic fighters in the world. I don't think the 19-month layoff will be a factor in this fight.
And, a lot of people are forgetting Carlos Condit hasn't fought in over nine months. He decided to sit on the shelf and wait for GSP to heal up to unify the 170-pound belt.
Which, was the smart move because the welterweight division is stacked with great fighters.
GSP enters this fight on a nine-fight winning streak and hasn't lost since Matt Serra knocked him out in 2007. GSP's 16 wins inside the octagon are tied for second most in UFC history with Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.
Not bad company.
His six straight title defenses are second most in UFC history only trailing Anderson Silva, the best fighter in MMA history.
GSP learned a lot after his last defeat to Matt Serra. He is now one of the smartest fighters in the world and always gets the fight where he wants. GSP is the best wrestler in the division and the only knock on him is his chin can be suspect at times. It is rare to see GSP stand and bang in a fight after Serra knocked him out. Expect GSP to look for the takedown against Condit and try and end the fight with a submission.
Condit enters the cage the best he has ever been. There might not be a more versatile fighter in the UFC. The guy is comfortable wherever the fight ends up, but it will be wise for Condit to try and keep this fight on the feet.
Condit showed how strong he is mentally when he beat Nick Diaz for the interim welterweight title in February. Diaz tried to get Condit to fight his fight, but Condit kept picking apart Diaz from the outside. Diaz was talking trash to Condit throughout the fight, but Condit tuned him out and frustrated him for 25 minutes.
Some people thought Diaz pulled it out, but Condit outstruck Diaz 159-117 in strikes landed and 151-105 in significant strikes.
Carlos Condit will be the toughest test GSP has faced since he won the welterweight title against Matt Hughes in their second fight in 2006.
"The Natural Born Killer" is comfortable wherever the fight ends up and can end the fight with a knockout or submission. GSP has lost twice in the octagon, one by KO and one by submission. Condit will look to join the list of Matt Hughes and Matt Serra as the only men to beat GSP.
I am going with the upset in the one. I think Carlos Condit will use his well-rounded game and find a way to knock off GSP. GSP is a 3-1 favorite in Vegas, and I think Condit has a good chance to pull off the upset.
I think GSP's suspect chin will come in to play on Saturday night and Condit will knockout the welterweight king.