The Ultimate Fighting Championship will bring a 12-fight card to Bell Centre in Montreal tonight for UFC 154. The main event will feature the long-awaited return of welterweight champion Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre, who will defend his strap against interim champ, Carlos ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Condit.
As of early this afternoon, most betting shops had St-Pierre installed as a minus-350 favorite with Condit listed as a plus-270 underdog (risk $100 to win $270).
St-Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC) hasn’t been in the Octagon since successfully defending his belt for a sixth time with a unanimous-decision victory over Jake Shields at UFC 129 on April 30 of 2011.
GSP hasn’t tasted defeat since getting knocked out by Matt Serra at UFC 69 in Houston on April 7 of 2007. Since then, he has won nine in a row with six triumphs coming by way of decision, including his last four.
Condit (28-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) won the interim belt by capturing a unanimous-decision victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 143 on Feb. 4. The win over Diaz was the fifth straight for Condit, who previously posted victories over notable foes like Rory McDonald, Jake Ellenberger, Dan Hardy and Kim Dong-Hyun.
Condit’s lone loss in the UFC came in his debut against Martin Kampmann, who won a split decision. Before joining the promotion, Condit won all five of his fights with World Extreme Cagefighting. The Albuquerque native won the organization’s welterweight belt and defended it three times.
Bovada has a slew of proposition wagers available. The website has the total for GSP-Condit set at 4 ½ rounds. For gamblers who like the ‘over,’ a minus-210 price must be risked. Those bullish on the ‘under’ can earn a plus-150 payout (risk $100 to win $150).
Prediction: I really think Condit has a shot tonight. The main concern is GSP’s strength advantage and if Condit can defend his takedown attempts. Condit wants to keep the fight standing and if he does, I believe he’ll have a speed advantage. His striking is outstanding. I’m going to make a small play on the generous underdog, thinking that GSP’s time away from the cage could hurt him. Again, to be clear, I’m talking about a small play. Going against GSP is not a sound financial decision in most situations, but if there’s a time to do it, I believe it is tonight.
In the co-main event, Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks will collide in another crucial match in the 170-pound loop. The winner could meet the GSP-Condit winner unless Dana White goes forward with plans for Anderson Silva and GSP (if he beats Condit) to meet at Cowboys Stadium in the summer of 2013.
Hendricks (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) has won four straight fights, although I thought he lost in his split-decision victory over Josh Koscheck at UFC on FOX in May. The win over Koscheck was preceded by a 12-second KO of Jon Fitch, who had never previously lost in the Octagon to anyone not names Georges St. Pierre.
Kampmann (20-5 MMA, 11-4 UFC) has won three in a row and you could make the case that he should have won his last seven fights. The ‘Hitman’ came up on the wrong side of a split decision against Shields and he got absolutely robbed of a win by the judges against Diego Sanchez, who had two eyes completely swollen shut when his hand was raised.
Since the heartbreaker against Sanchez, however, Kampann has impressive wins over Rick Story, Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger. Kampmann earned KO of the Night honors with his big knee that finished ‘The Juggernaut.’
Most books are listing Hendricks as a minus-130 favorite with Kampmann available at an even-money price. The odds for this fight to go the distance are minus-160. Bettors can earn a plus-130 profit (risk $100 to win $130) for the fight not to go to the judges.
Prediction: I think it’s a toss-up fight and the best way to bet is for the plus-130 payout for the fight not to go the distance. I think one of these guys finishes the other by KO at some point, possibly in the early going.
Mark Hominick (20-11 MMA, 3-3 UFC) will try to end a three-fight losing streak when he takes on Pablo Garza in a featherweight showdown. This is the third consecutive bout in which Hominick has been an enormous favorite. This time around, ‘The Machine’ is in the minus-320 range with Garza at around plus-240.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--According to a report this week from Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Alistair Overeem’s return from a nine-month drug suspension has been targeted for Super Bowl Weekend at UFC 156. His next opponent could be Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, who is coming off a first-round KO win over previously-undefeated Travis Browne. Overeem hasn’t fought since destroying Brock Lesnar on Dec. 30 of 2011. The UFC 156 card is also expected to include Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo and Little Nog versus Rashad Evans.
--Tonight’s scheduled bout between Nick Ring and Costa Phillipou has been cancelled. Ring had to pull out today due to an illness.
--When I spoke with Jason Floyd of The MMA Report on his podcast earlier this week, he didn’t like my Condit pick. He believes St. Pierre will win a decision. He agreed with me on my pick for Hendricks-Kampmann to not go the distance.
--I’m not a huge Alessio Sakara fan, but I think Patrick Cote is too expensive at minus-285. Maybe get a small taste of Sakara for a plus-235 payout but if not, definitely don’t risk the ‘chalky’ price with Cote, who has lost four straight fights in the Octagon.
--I like Rafael dos Anjos tonight vs. Mark Bocek. Of course, I liked it better at the opening price of minus-125. Nevertheless, I still recommend Dos Anjos even though the price is up to minus-170ish.