This Saturday, the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada hosts UFC 154, live on PPV with the long-awaited return of Georges “Rush” St-Pierre to the Octagon in order to unify his title with Carlos Condit’s interim belt. This event holds a lot of weight and drama behind it, and the UFC has absolutely stacked the undercard for the fans. There are a total of eight undercard fights, with Matt Riddle, John Maguire, Ivan Menjivar and Rodrigo Damm just to name a few fighting in the Facebook.com prelims, with four more great bouts being televised live on FX leading into the main show. Starting off the night on FX, Sam Stout (18-7-1) takes on John Makdessi (9-2) in a lightweight battle where jobs might be on the line. The Canadian Makdessi is a flashy striker with a karate and kickboxing background and has gone 2-2 in the UFC. He fights in front of his home country on a two-fight losing streak and will probably dig deep in his bag tricks in order to defeat his opponent. Stout has been in the UFC since 2006, with only a brief absence in 2007 breaking up his tenure in the big show. He’s currently 7-6 in the UFC and can succumb to the ground game, but he has an iron chin and has never been knocked out. As his nickname would indicate, “Hands of Stone” Stout has great stand up, and the 28-year-old can throw with the best of them. These two Canadians should prove to be an exciting kickoff for the FX prelims. Next up will be Evolve Fight Team member Rafael dos Anjos (17-6) stepping into the Octagon to face Mark Bocek (11-4). If one could assume Stout vs. John Makdessi as a stand-up affair, it’s logical to guess that this fight will be a high-level grapplefest. Dos Anjos is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as is Bocek, who trained under the legendary Rickson Gracie and equally legendary Renzo Gracie. If this fight ends up primarily on the feet as so many fights between grapplers do, the question is who has the edge on the feet? Bocek has a black belt in Kemp, but he has never been able to finish a man with strikes in the UFC. Dos Anjos fights out of Singapore at Evolve, and they are known for their Muay Thai and kickboxing prowess. He he has only finished one man (George Sotiroupolous) via strikes but may be more well-rounded. The third fight on the FX preliminary card is between former Strikeforce heavyweight powerhouse and firefighter Chad Griggs (11-2) and near 40-year-old striker Cyrille Diabate. (18-8-1). Griggs, who is making his debut at 205, is like a bull in a china shop. He is out there to charge forward and look for his massive power to bowl over the competition. He hasn’t been to the third round since 2007 and has never seen one of his fights go to the judges. He finishes his opponents or they finish him, it’s as simple as that. Diabate, it can be said, has a little more nuance to his striking game. He had a brief, but moderately successful kickboxing career, and holds eight knockout wins with five submissions (many set up by strikes). Expect a slobber-knocker of a fight where force vs. technique is the name of the game. Headlining the FX prelims, former middleweight contender Patrick Cote (17-8) looks to find his first win in the Octagon since returning after a two-year absence against Alessio Sakara (15-9-1). It should be said, in my opinion, that reports of Sakara’s paper-thin chin have been greatly exaggerated. His last fight against Brian Stann in which he was ground-and-pounded into unconsciousness was only his fourth loss to strikes in his decade of being a professional fighter. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Cote will gladly test Sakara’s chin with his Canadian fists. Cote has won nearly half of his fights by way of knockout, so you can assume that will be his angle in this bout. With his home-country crowd behind him, the “Predator” should have ample motivation to finish off Sakara, who may also be fighting for his job in the UFC after suffering consecutive losses. Following is a complete list of opening MMA odds for the UFC 154 prelims… UFC 154 PRELIMS: LIVE ON FX ALESSIO SAKARA +195 (bet $100 to win $195) PATRICK COTE -245 (bet $245 to win $100) CYRILLE DIABATE -125 CHAD GRIGGS -105 JOHN MAKDESSI +180 SAM STOUT -220 MARK BOCEK +120 RAFAEL DOS ANJOS -150 UFC 154 PRELIMS: LIVE ON FACEBOOK RODRIGO DAMM +205 ANTONIO CARVALHO -255 AZAMAT GASHIMOV +220 IVAN MENJIVAR -280 STEVEN SILER +130 DARREN ELKINS -160 JOHN MAGUIRE +125 MATT RIDDLE -155
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