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UFC 158: Angry St-Pierre out to inflict pain

ESPN staff
March 15, 2013
UFC 158 Countdown: St-Pierre v Diaz

The UFC welterweight champion has played nearly every role in his UFC career - he was the new kid on the block against Matt Hughes, the redemption-seeking star against Matt Serra, and arguably the world's greatest against BJ Penn.

But never has he played the angry man, the man who is out to inflict pain, the man who wants to give his rival such a beating that he never fights again.

That role beckons at UFC 158 against Nick Diaz, a challenger who is the polar opposite to the groomed, sophisticated, polished champion. It promises to be gripping, no matter what happens.

Georges St-Pierre v Nick Diaz

GSP: 'Diaz has got under my skin'

Where the fight could be won or lost: A good place to start this breakdown is in Nick Diaz's head. Georges St-Pierre doesn't quite have the aura of Anderson Silva, but his reputation still precedes him. Diaz, though, has never been short on confidence. When he gets taken down, which he will, Diaz should throw elbows and attack with submissions to get up. He can't try to outwrestle St-Pierre or beat him in the scramble.

Stand-up will be interesting. St-Pierre is better defensively, and his jab and cage awareness should keep him off the fence. Diaz can be predictable and susceptible to leg kicks, but his aggression might force St-Pierre to fight backward, which he's not used to. Is Diaz's guard the answer to St-Pierre's top game? That's the million-dollar question, because nobody expects Diaz to consistently defend the takedown. If Diaz can create offence from his back and get to his feet, we'll have a fight on our hands. If not, well, we know what happens.

The pick: Georges St-Pierre - Unanimous decision

Carlos Condit v Johny Hendricks

Carlos Condit: 'I'm going to let it all hang out'

Where the fight could be won or lost: Johny Hendricks' resume is a little weird. Either he obliterates competition with an early knockout or goes to a razor-thin decision. Take a look. Past eight fights: four knockouts, three non-unanimous decision wins and one loss. So, which is it against Carlos Condit? Condit has never been knocked out. He always has this natural feel of where his opponent is. Few are better at throwing offence on the move. Hendricks might want to wrestle him, as St-Pierre did, but his takedowns are not as fluid as the ones Condit saw in that fight.

Hendricks has jaw-dropping power, and we know about his straight left. It's worth noting that Diaz, a fellow southpaw, had success with the straight left on Condit in a fight last year. Condit moves too well. If he can circle, counter, avoid the big shot and not get pinned for long periods of time, he outpoints Hendricks. Of course, one left hand is all it takes for that theory to fall apart.

The pick: Carlos Condit - Unanimous decision

Jake Ellenberger v Nate Marquardt

Jake Ellenberger: 'Marquardt will bring the best out of me'

Where the fight could be won or lost: Tough one to call between Jake Ellenberger and Nate Marquardt. Really hasn't been one specific, go-to way to beat Marquardt. He's been bothered by pressure in his career, but he's also been outpointed in the center of the cage. Ellenberger is just going to be Ellenberger. He's got some decent counter-striking to go along with that awesome lead hook and he brings some awkwardness that bothers guys, especially early.

His gas tank is not great so he's been slightly conservative with energy lately. This is one of those fights with the potential to go anywhere. Marquardt's footwork is a little better but Ellenberger has a wrestling advantage. Expect momentum swings. Could really go either way. Neither fighter has a distinct advantage in any one area. Ellenberger has more raw power, but both of these guys can finish.

The pick: Jake Ellenberger - Split decision

Check out ESPN.com for more build-up to UFC 158

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