The UFC is returning to Canada on Saturday night — Montreal this time around. When the organization goes north of the border there is a decent chance that Georges St. Pierre will be fighting if he is healthy. Mercifully, GSP is indeed healthy after an 18-month absence. Now the guy who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in my mind gets to show whether he has lost a step. The rest of the main card isn’t the strongest or the most interesting we have ever seen by any means, but given the anticipation I’m sure no one will notice or care.
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Here’s how the main card sets up (all odds are from Bovada):
Welterweight Championship - Georges St. Pierre (-350) vs. Carlos Condit (+265)
By far the biggest storyline here is GSP’s knee. He’s trying to bounce back from a torn ACL and subsequent surgery. Lots of athletes have bounced back well from such an injury — with Adrian Peterson the latest strong example — but even more have never again been quite the performer they once were. We’ll never really know how ready he is until the fight is underway. All we can really do is assume that he wouldn’t be in this fight if he weren’t ready, and the UFC wouldn’t risk such a big asset — especially with the prospect of a GSP vs. Anderson Silva fight on the horizon — if he wasn’t as ready as he could be.
So, if we are going to assume that GSP is healthy enough then how does the fight stack up? Condit looked very good against Nick Diaz to win the interim title at UFC 143. The problem is, though, that St. Pierre is a very different fighter than Diaz — and a much tougher matchup for Condit. Against Diaz, Condit was able to set the tone of the fight because he is an exceptional striker and there was little threat of Diaz taking him down. GSP, though, is the master of the takedown, and he will keep the fight on the ground as much as he possibly can.
On top of that edge, the hometown crowd will obviously be insane for GSP, and that will be the last boost. This won’t be the easiest defense GSP has had by any means, but if he is healthy he’ll come out on top.
Pick: Georges St. Pierre
Johny Hendricks (-155) vs. Martin Kampmann (+125)
Hendricks should lose this fight just because the spelling of his first name is so ridiculous, but apparently that’s not a rule in the UFC yet. This is a very interesting fight because not only are both fighters pretty solid welterweights in decent form recently, but they also used to train together so they have few secrets. Kampmann is a two-time NCAA wrestling champion, so his strength is obvious. Kampmann has beaten some pretty good wrestlers recently, though, so he’s not out of his element — plus, he has learned a lot from sparring in the past. I don’t like this fight much from a betting perspective, but there is a chance for a slight upset here.
Pick: Martin Kampmann
Francis Carmont (-280) vs. Tom Lawlor (+220)
Carmont is a GSP training partner, so he obviously has a few things going for him besides the fact that he’s French. He’s 3-0 in the UFC, and this is a test of whether he is ready for a bigger push in the middleweight division. Lawlor is a decent fighter, and he could catch Carmont in a not-uncommon-enough distracted moment, but Carmont is just plain better and I’ll bet that he’ll prove it.
Pick: Francis Carmont
Constantinos Philippou (-250) vs. Nick Ring (+195)
Ring will have the support of the Canadian crowd on his side. There is a big problem, though — he’s one of the most overrated fighters in the UFC. It pains me to say that because he trains in my hometown, but he’s far from as good as his 13-1 record. He’s facing far too much of a fighter in Philippou, and this one should be over by the second round.
Pick: Constantinos Philippou
Mark Hominick (-325) vs. Pablo Garza (+250)
Three fights ago Hominick was a No. 1 contender. He hasn’t won since. So, can he turn it back around, or is he done as a top-level fighter? The truth is, though, that it doesn’t matter. Garza is horribly outmatched here, and Hominick can be far from his best and still win.
Pick: Mark Hominick
For each UFC card I make a mythical $500 bet — typically on parlays. Things have gone well recently, so let’s keep going well. We aren’t going to do anything fancy here — just pick the best fighters and count on them to do their jobs:
$500 parlay — Take St. Pierre, Carmont, Philippou and Hominick. Potential profit of $1097.25.
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