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Sportsbook.ag UFC 158 Preview

Georges St-Pierre (23-2) vs. Nick Diaz (27-8-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: St-Pierre -425, Diaz +325

After a long wait, Nick Diaz will finally get his shot at Georges St-Pierre and the welterweight crown as the headline bout on UFC 158 on Saturday night in Montreal.

It had appeared these two would clash many times before, but it never came to fruition. Diaz last fought for the interim welterweight belt against Carlos Condit on Feb. 4, 2012. Diaz lost via unanimous decision, taking some of the anticipation out of this bout that was once among the most highly-anticipated in the sport. St-Pierre last fought in November of last year, beating Condit by unanimous decision, and defending his title for the seventh time. St-Pierre has had no trouble making easy work of every top welterweight in UFC, and this should be no different against an opponent who lost to the man St-Pierre most recently beat.

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What makes St-Pierre so unstoppable is that he is so well-rounded and adept at defending. Condit went for a number of submissions against him, but was ultimately just punished with furious strikes and counter attacks. As such a talented fighter, he has no problem letting the judges call the fight, with 10 career decision victories, including his last five all by unanimous decision. Prior to that, he TKO-ed BJ Penn in his second defense of his belt in January 2009. The 31-year-old St-Pierre a talented wrestler who can control fights with his takedowns, but he is also a tremendous boxer and Jiu-Jitsu artist, covering nearly every facet of the game. If he has a weakness, opponents haven't found it yet-Diaz should be no different.

Before Diaz loss to Condit, he had won 11 in a row, mostly in Strikeforce, where he rose to be the welterweight champ. Condit was his second fight since returning to UFC. Before that, he earned a unanimous decision against Penn. The 29-year-old Diaz might have more raw power than St-Pierre, with 13 knockouts. At 6-foot-0, he also owns a one-inch height advantage over his Saturday opponent. Diaz will need to exploit that, and hope his boxing skills can help him land one big blow. Otherwise, he is doomed to get outworked over the course of a grueling five-round fight, so he can't afford to let this go the distance.

Carlos Condit (28-6) vs. Johny Hendricks (14-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Hendricks -135, Condit +105

In the second lead welterweight bout on UFC 158's main card Saturday in Montreal, Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks will come to blows, hoping to further establish themselves among the elite in UFC.

Condit is coming off a loss to Georges St-Pierre, which unified the UFC welterweight title after Condit had won the interim one with St-Pierre injured. Prior to that, Condit had won five in a row, including most recently against Nick Diaz, who St-Pierre is fighting Saturday to retain his belt. Hendricks has also won five in a row, most recently submitting Martin Kampmann 46 seconds into their bout. But Hendricks may not match up ideally against Condit, who stands at 6-foot-2, five inches taller than Hendricks. Condit was also impressive in the loss to St-Pierre, getting in a few huge hits that St-Pierre had to battle through.

As Condit showed against Diaz, he is comfortable taking a fight to the judges, but he is best when he can end a fight quickly. Just two of his 28 career wins have been decisions, with the other 26 split evenly between knockouts and submissions. The 28-year-old Condit, nicknamed "Natural Born Killer" is a deft boxer and kick boxer who is also an elite Jiu-Jitsu artist, which makes him a dangerous grappler and threat for a submission at any point. What may separate him from Hendricks here is that Condit has elite endurance, something he showed striking late blows against St-Pierre.

The way the 29-year-old Hendricks will win this fight is taking it to the ground where the height differential will be less of a factor. And "Bigg Rigg" Hendricks is extremely good at that as a former Division-I wrestler at Oklahoma State. With those skills, takedowns are the base of his game, though he supplements it with above-average boxing skills. However, the boxing may be more difficult in this one, with a 69-inch reach, one that is seven inches shorter than Condit's. He'll win this if he can place himself to unleash the power that has given him eight knockouts in 14 career fights, but that will be difficult against the savvy Condit.

  
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