UFC 158 Defines the Welterweight Division for 2013
The welterweight heavy UFC 158 card went down last night in Montreal, Quebec, Canada as champion Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his title with a five round decision over challenger Nick Diaz. In the same division, heavy handed Johny Hendricks won decision over Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger KO'd Nate Marquardt. None of the underdogs were able to break through in the fights, but it was an exciting night of fights as the welterweights certainly delivered.
St-Pierre easily dominated Diaz, though he had to work for it. For the second match in a row (both post injury) St-Pierre's face showed the marks of battle. Against Diaz and Condit, St-Pierre has dealt with two very talented fighters after coming of his long injury recovery. The post recovery GSP is just as precise athletically and he always has a class 'A' game plan, but he has started to take more damage, and Hendricks -- who has to be the unequivocal number one contender at this point -- is the type of fighter who might exploit that. Both Diaz and Condit were able to mark up St-Pierre with cumulative damage, while Hendricks doesn't need to rely on breaking the champion down over 25 minutes, he can do all the damage he needs in one punch. Given his track record, St-Pierre will certainly be favored in his next match as well.
Next up for St-Pierre will be the aforementioned Johnny Hendricks, who fought a war with Carlos Condit and won a unanimous decision on the judges' cards. He showed not only his big punching, but his wrestling was powerful throughout. Look for Hendricks to be a much closer line than Diaz was when Johny faces St-Pierre. St-Pierre is going to have to work a lot harder for his takedowns against Hendricks than he did against either against Diaz or against his previous opponent Condit. Hendricks however did appear to tire at the end of the third, while St Pierre had a full tank for five rounds.
UFC President Dana White had referred to the welterweight fights at UFC 158 as a tournament, with the 4th member of the group being Demian Maia, who took out Jon Fitch in his last outing. Maia will likely get Ellenberger, who KO'd Nate Marquardt in the first round of their match. Ellenberger showed the explosion that makes him possibly the most dangerous first round fighter in the UFC, but Maia is a blanket grappler who will threaten Ellenberger if he can survive the big punches. Look for Maia to be a slight favorite when the line comes out at the books.
Also hoping to not be forgotten in the welterweight division as he recovers from injury is young Rory MacDonald, who was originally slated to face Condit. Think of him as an alternate for the four other fighters as we wait on St-Pierre vs Hendricks and Maia vs Ellenberger. Depending on his timetable for a return from his neck injury, he could also be scheduled against former top 10 welterweight Rick Story, who picked up an impressive win on the undercard of UFC 158.
As long as health does not become a factor, the top of the welterweight division may be the most competitive division the UFC has right now, so sit back and enjoy watching the fights play out over the rest of 2013.
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