Patrick Cote has not won consecutive fights in the UFC since 2008. | Photo: Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog.com
UFC 158 “St. Pierre vs. Diaz” poses more than a few interesting questions about the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
Can Nick Diaz find a way around Georges St. Pierre’s wrestling? If Diaz proves up to that task, how will St. Pierre react to the inevitable rat-a-tat-tat boxing attack that will soon be flying at his face? Is Johny Hendricks as good as he has led us to believe up to this point? Can Carlos Condit keep the stocky power puncher on the outside, where the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion can best use his sharp straights and kicks?
On Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the UFC 158 main draw will also provide answers about whether Nate Marquardt still has some fight left in him after the beating he took at the hands of Tarec Saffiedine and whether Jake Ellenberger is ready to make another run toward the top 5. Even with all of that lying in wait, however, the free undercard is arguably just as intriguing.
Here are five reasons to watch the UFC 158 prelims on FX and Facebook:
Sherdog Fantasy MMA: UFC 158 Free Fan Pick’Em
Un Petit Predator
There is a certain charm to Patrick Cote dropping to welterweight at this point in his career. If the weight cut does not kill him, Cote could be fun to watch at 170 pounds.
“The Predator” is only 33, but I would argue that he is actually much older in fighter years due to his decade of competition and the injuries that go along with his choice of profession. Cote returned to the UFC riding a four-fight winning streak but saw that stretch turn to dust after taking a fight with Cung Le on just five weeks’ notice at UFC 148.
After that lackluster performance against the 40-year-old former Strikeforce champion, Cote’s most recent fight ended amid controversy, as Alessio Sakara was disqualified for launching roughly 43 hammerfists at the back of Cote’s skull. A win is a win, but that that is not exactly what I would call a confidence-inspiring result.
Cote’s punching power has never been questioned, and neither has his granite chin. I expect he should retain both qualities as a welterweight, and he will need to if he hopes to get past underrated Strikeforce import Bobby Voelker.
Ultimate Kickfighting Challenge
I am so happy that Daron Cruickshank is fighting John Makdessi.
You had to be there in person to fully appreciate exactly what Cruickshank’s head kick sounded like when it collided with Henry Martinez’s skull at UFC on Fox 5. At the time, I described the sound as “God open-hand slapping the entire arena.”
This kid can flat out throw. His fight I.Q. is a work in progress, but when he lets his hands and feet fly, he turns into an instant “Knockout of the Night” threat. I think Cruickshank’s real problems will come when he fights a wrestler who wants no part of the standup. There is a real chance that someone like the recently departed Jacob Volkmann or “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa could make “The Detroit Superstar” look thoroughly unspectacular. Luckily for Cruickshank -- and all of us watching UFC 158 -- Cruickshank has been paired with Makdessi, an everlasting fountain of round kicks and spinning backfists.
There is one factor to consider that could throw a monkey wrench in this whole deal. Cruickshank is not a great wrestler, but there is a chance that he could try to take “The Bull” to the mat, simply because that is likely where he will hold the greatest advantage. However, if Cruickshank decides to stand and bang it out, I think we could be looking at “Fight of the Night.”
George Roop is heading back to the bantamweight division, but is it a smart move?
The fighter seems to think so and has called this the easiest weight cut of his life. His first experiment at 135 pounds did not go so well, however, as he was outpointed by Eddie Wineland under the WEC banner in 2010. Now with a nutritionist by his side, the 6-foot-1 Arizonan meets Reuben Duran, who has shown to be an excellent athlete but recently left himself exposed to the power punches of Hugo Viana.
Anyone with a decent memory will recall Roop’s nasty knockouts of Chan Sung Jung and Josh Grispi. Can the 31-year-old halt a two-fight skid in his bantamweight reboot?
What’s the Story?
It still sounds odd when I say it out loud, but Rick Story really needs a win right now.
It was not so long ago that Story was the talk of the town -- and for good reason. The Washingtonian had won six straight fights, topping the likes of former title challenger Thiago Alves and arguable No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks.
Then came Charlie Brenneman and his smothering wrestling attack and Martin Kampmann’s precise combinations and Demian Maia’s otherworldly jiu-jitsu. Yes, Story picked up a unanimous decision win over Brock Jardine last summer, but that is hardly a victory that stopped the presses.
Now paired with former King of the Cage champion Quinn Mulhern, can Story right his ship and get back in the win column?
I have grown to like watching Darren Elkins fight.
Granted, he was definitely gift-wrapped a decision over Michihiro Omigawa in a fight I felt he clearly lost, but his last three performances have been excellent. First, the wrestler was dominant in his win over Tiequan Zhang and then put on a positively endearing display of guts and resilience in his come-from-behind victory against Diego Brandao. Most recently, the Hoosier dismantled “The Ultimate Fighter 14” veteran Steven Siler in arguably his best performance to date.
In Antonio Carvalho, Elkins faces a 10-year pro riding back-to-back wins fighting on home soil. Can the American overcome a pro-Carvalho crowd to pick up his fifth straight win?