Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 3.15.13: It Finally Happens Edition
Posted by Robert Winfree on 03.15.2013
News and thoughts on Junior Dos Santos facing Mark Hunt, Rory MacDonald's injury woes, Nick Diaz's latest erratic behavior, a detailed breakdown of Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre at UFC 158 and more!
Hello hello my loyal readers, I'm so glad you all could make it back for another week. This is going to be a big week, because you may have heard about the big fight coming up. The UFC welterweight championship will be defended this Saturday, so you know I'm going to look at that fight as well as the rest of the card. So with the big fight looming, let's get into this quickly. The sooner you get Locked in the Guillotine the sooner we can get to the interesting stuff.
I know, you're not here to hear about The Walking Dead but I want to take a couple of brief moments to discuss last weeks episode. As always feel free to scroll further down if this doesn't interest you. Just a couple of quick notes here too, I promise this wont take long. Glen standing up to Merle continues to be awesome and shows how far he's come as a character. I really wish people would listen to Merle about the Governor though, he's got the measure of him and really should have been killed at the earliest opportunity. I loved the face to face between Rick and the Governor, palpable tension, two men who obviously don't trust each other attempting to work out some kind of arrangement, it was really well done. Only three episode's left this season, and we're getting ready for a big confrontation. I'm certainly excited about it.
Hunt steps up: While it was initially reported that the fight between former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, scheduled for UFC 160, would simply be pushed back following the injury to Overeem, it has now been confirmed that Mark Hunt will take on the former champion at UFC 160. The incredibly comeback story of Mark Hunt has been the type of stuff movies are made about, I talked at length about him and his career resurgence last week and applauded him for his efforts. If he can decisively defeat JDS he'll get a title shot, that much has been confirmed all the way around. I don't like his chances against JDS though, dos Santos is on a completely other level from every other heavyweight outside of current champion Cain Velasquez. That said, Hunt certainly has power in his hands and if dos Santos isn't careful he could just wind up unconscious.
The ongoing saga of Nick Diaz: Last week I encouraged you guys to find the press conference call for the upcoming UFC 158 fight because of the interactions between Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre, 411's Jeffrey Harris was kind enough to put a link in the comments section as well, but Nick Diaz continues to be one of the most puzzling cases in recent MMA. This time around he missed the open workouts prior to UFC 158, his stated reason being that he didn't want to fly in while cutting weight. Newsflash Diaz, no one likes cutting weight, and no one likes going through open workouts, media interviews, or any of the other things that they do prior to a big fight while cutting weight. They all do it, and mostly without complaint, while you seem incapable of simply doing what is asked of you without turning it into a big deal. You cannot ask for bigger fights, even going so far as to claim "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it" when everything in your history says you can't be relied on to do those things. During an interview following the press conference, which Diaz did somehow manage to show up to, Diaz accused UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of being on steroids. The hypocrisy of Nick Diaz, a man with two failed drug tests to his credit, to accuse a man who has never failed a drug test in his career is staggering. At this rate Diaz is making himself more a liability than an asset to the UFC, should he fail another drug test after this fight he'll likely be released given his pattern of behavior.
MacDonald aggravates injury: Rory MacDonald, who was sidelined from a scheduled fight with Carlos Condit at UFC 158 with a neck injury, has aggravated the injury again and will be out for longer than thought. MacDonald has gone on record blaming his old training methods for the issue, and his trainer has said they need to tone down the intensity and time of their training to help avoid this issue. Training smart is a big deal, and if you're getting injured training on a somewhat consistent basis then you aren't training smart. Hopefully Rory lets his body heal properly this time around because I want to see him fighting again.
That's right boys and girls, there's a big fight coming up and it's time to take a loot at what I think is going to happen on the main card. This is a big main event, though elements of the rest of the card are lacking, so let's get into the fights.
Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher: I do not care about this fight. Ricci was last seen losing a unanimous decision at the end of TUF 16 while Fletcher didn't make it to the finals of TUF U.K vs. AUS. I have no reason to care about these guys, and no reason to think the fight will be any good. As for what I think will happen, Ricci doesn't need to worry about being taken down and controlled or threatened by submissions here, so look for him to take the win.
Nick Ring vs. Chris Camozzi: I don't like Nick Ring, the guy has some uncanny ability to make judges think he won fights he didn't. I know it's not his fault, but it is incredibly annoying. I've picked Camozzi in the past and usually been disappointed in his performance. I'm not looking forward to this fight either, but since I have to pick a winner I'm inclined to go with Ring. Ring will look to control the fight, and Camozzi hasn't shown that he can avoid that type of controlling style. Ring should take the decision.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt: I'm hesitant to get excited about this fight, because both guys have shown themselves capable of tremendous stupidity inside the cage. Jake Ellenberger was extremely close to a title shot at one point, then he got too aggressive against Martin Kampmann and got stopped in the second round due to strikes. His last fight was an extremely uninspired performance against Jay Hieron. Nate Marquardt looked to have revitalized his career with a move to welterweight, he defeated Tyron Woodley by knockout in Strikeforce and looked like he could enter the UFC as the last Strikeforce welterweight champion. Unfortunately he had no answer to the leg kicks of Tarec Saffiedine and lost a unanimous decision on the last Strikeforce card. The key for victory for Marquardt lies in getting out of the first round, if he can survive a blitz by Ellenberger his superior conditioning will take over and he could get a stoppage in the second or third. I'm leaning towards Marquardt here, though Ellenberger is perfectly capable of winning this fight.
Carlos Condit vs. Johny Hendricks: This is going to be a telling fight. Johny Hendricks should be fighting Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight championship here, but GSP decided he wanted to fight Nick Diaz and make more money. Carlos Condit is coming off of a loss to GSP, but remains one of the best in the division. Johny Hendricks has had success lately in large part because he hits so hard, his left hand has proven itself a weapon to be feared, but he is also an accomplished wrestler. Condit's takedown defense has never been great, and if Hendricks wants to get him down he likely will. Standing Condit has more tools, including kicks and knees and some pretty solid punching power of his own. When Condit fought Nick Diaz, and defeated him, he used a stick and move strategy that Diaz was unable to adjust to. That said, Diaz did find occasional success with a straight left hand. Now if Condit makes the same defensive mistakes against Hendricks that he did against Diaz he could wind up unconscious. I like Condit, but I really have to wonder if he's corrected all the issues he's had. Hendricks is the smarter bet here, and hopefully he calls out GSP if he wins and makes a definitive statement that he should get the next title shot.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz: That's right boys and girls, the big fight is finally here. Unless Nick Diaz gets hit by a bus between now and the time he walks to the octagon, here's hoping he does, we're finally going to get Diaz fighting St-Pierre. The crowd in Montreal, St-Pierre's hometown, will be really hot for this one. Plenty of people are really hyped up for this one, and I think you all know what's coming. That's right folks, we're going deep, and not Joe Rogan "It looks deep Mike!" either, really deep in this Guillotine as we examine Nick Diaz and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Let's start our breakdown with a look at the challenger, Nick Diaz. Diaz is a former champion in multiple organizations, was on a long unbeaten streak before running into Carlos Condit, and has constantly spoken out about how he wants to get at Georges St-Pierre. Nick Diaz has a very high volume striking offense. He eschews kicks, knees, and elbows most of the time in favor of a boxing oriented approach. Diaz loves nothing more than to get his opponent against the fence and unload with a barrage of blows to the body and head, and more than one opponent has allowed him to do just that. Diaz absolutely battered BJ Penn in their fight with that same strategy, he moved Penn against the cage, closed the distance, and threw an incredible volume of strikes at him. Volume striking isn't seen much in MMA, most fighters prefer to throw one or two punches and reset, or shoot for a takedown, or wind up and just throw power punches. The volume based style is more effective in MMA in some ways simply because fighters aren't used to dealing with it, it breaks the rhythm they want to fight in and forces them out of their comfort zone. Nick Diaz also possesses incredible recover powers, he's been rocked with punches, notably against Paul Daley, but manages to recover before the fight has to be stopped. Diaz also brings a very high level of jiujitsu to the table. His grappling acumen is well known, and he has no fear of fighting on the ground at all. For Diaz to win this fight he has to get Georges to back up and engage in a volume striking affair. Diaz has great conditioning, and getting a fighter to engage in drawn out slug fests results in their tiring out before he does more often than not which lets him continue pressing the advantage. Diaz needs to get Georges to fight like that, to fight him hard and close where he can land dozens of punches to the head and body and wear down the champion. In the later rounds, if GSP tires, Diaz will need to really push the pace, force GSP to execute a poorly timed takedown, and try to submit him. Make no mistake, if GSP gets complacent or sloppy Diaz has the ability to catch him with a barrage of punches or a tight submission hold.
So then, how does reigning champion and one of the all time greats Georges St-Pierre want to fight against Diaz? Georges is one of the best athlete's in the sport, and despite having no wrestling training prior to beginning his MMA career he's become the best wrestler in the division. Decorated armature wrestlers like Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck have been completely unable to either get GSP down or stop him from taking them down. While Nick Diaz is active and dangerous off of his back, GSP has a smothering top game and incredible guard passing abilities. GSP was able to pass BJ Penn's guard like it wasn't there in their second fight, and until Jon Fitch fought GSP no one had passed his guard in the UFC. Of course, in the course of GSP becoming such a phenomenal wrestler people have forgotten what a good striker he is. When he made his UFC debut he was promoted as a striker, and his performances against Jay Hieron, his second fight with Matt Hughes, and Sean Sherk solidified that status. In his title defense against Josh Koscheck the entire fight was spent on the feet and he was able to out strike Koscheck for the entire twenty five minutes, including breaking his orbital bone in the first round with some great jabs. So, what does GSP want to do in the cage to beat Nick Diaz. He wants to control the distance, Nick Diaz has notoriously bad striking defense and Georges needs to close distance quickly, land a couple of blows, and get out of range before Diaz begins to unload. He will also want to use kicks, Diaz doesn't check leg kicks as shown in his fights with Carlos Condit and Evangelista Santos, and landing good hard kicks will hamper his mobility. Georges needs to fight smart as well, with a fighter doesn't fight the way Nick Diaz wants to he has no plan B, he couldn't make any adjustments against Carlos Condit and lost because of it. Georges will also be looking to get Diaz on the ground, Georges can't be sloppy about it but if he's on top of Diaz he can control him and land shots en route to a win.
So, what will happen? I've got to tell you guys, I don't think this fight will be close. I think Georges is going to run over Nick Diaz. Georges has the best distance closing ability in the sport, he goes from out of range to in range in the blink of an eye and has very accurate striking. As long as he doesn't get caught and hurt by Diaz he'll own the striking with lateral movement, quick sniping attacks, and superior positioning. Georges will have a reach advantage here, something Nick Diaz is used to having on his side and it will play into Georges' favor with that strategy. He will also land kicks because he has no fear at all of Diaz taking him down, and this hit and move strategy will frustrate Diaz. GSP will also look for takedowns, likely in the second round or so, and will try to land elbows from half guard. Staying in Diaz's guard isn't a good idea, and GSP is too intelligent a fighter to do so, he'll pass to a better position and start landing blows. Nick Diaz will have to hurt GSP standing, get inside his head, and make him fight stupid in order to have a chance. I see GSP landing crisp shots from the outside, taking Diaz down whenever he feels like it, in short Georges will control this fight from start to finish and win a clear cut, dominant, unanimous decision.
Alright, you survived going deep, you guys are harder to submit than Benson Henderson. Oh wait, you're unconscious? Sorry about that. I'll be back next week and you can all laugh at my horrible prediction rate, that's always fun. I think I'll be on this week's Ground and Pound radio, which remains a great listen at least 40% of the time. You've survived the Guillotine this week, I'll see you back here next week.