….And I’m not talking hockey!  Nice to be talking MMA, don’t get to do it enough and when I have I can’t help but pile on the UFC for having such a watered down product in the last few years, but I don’t want to do that today.  I want to talk about one of the best cards they’ve had in a while, and the comeback of one Georges St. Pierre….GSP for you kids out there.

Been waiting for this for a long time, 19 months to be exact.  That night GSP had his spotlight hogged at the top of the Canadian sports icon list by Matt Halischuck of the Nashville Predators as he added to his legned, sniping the OT winner against Canada’s 30th favorite NHL team the Vancouver Caucks.  Never the less he was brilliant in the fight against Jake Shields at Rogers Centre and little did we know we wouldn’t be seeing him in action again for 19 months.

Since he has been out, Carlos Condit has taken over as Welterweight champ winning a 5 round war over Nick Diaz in February to take the interim title.  Condit has only lost 1 of his last 14 fights, and that was a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann (definitely no chump) in his very first fight in the UFC.  Don’t kid yourself, Condit is a threat to GSP.

Something I don’t like hearing around this fight, especially after watching the press conference on Wednesday was all the questions about a GSP fight with Anderson Silva.  GSP isn’t the one asking the question, and did his best to deflect them and keep his fight with Condit the focus.  But there is no way it isn’t a distraction for him.  And there is no way hearing those questions doesn’t fire Condit up even more.  The media was at times treating him like an afterthought.  That stuff won’t help GSP in this fight.

It’s not just the media either, Vegas is giving Condit no love in this fight.  He is a 2-1 underdog in this fight.  I know GSP has an amazing track record but I don’t know how he can be as big of a favorite as he is coming off a serious injury and having not fought in so long.  Condit isn’t Peter McNeely to St. Pierre’s Mike Tyson.  This is the interim champ.

If Condit can keep this fight off the mat he will have a great shot.  GSP can trade, remember he was more of a striker than a wrestler around the time of his first title reign.  But of course like in any GSP fight if he can get it to the mat then it’s over.  But will he have rust?  He can spare and train as much as he wants, nothing can simulate getting in the octagon in front of 21,000 people, not to mention the pressure of it being in his own backyard.  Condit has absolutely NOTHING to lose.  He’s expected to lose.  Everyone will still have a high opinion of Condit’s abilities as a fighter no matter how he loses….if he does.  I have rolled my eyes when others have been labelled “GSP’s most dangerous opponent to date”, as it is usually the UFC trying to hype a fight.  Because of all the cirumstances I’ve laid out, I actually believe this fight against Condit is going to be GSP’s toughest fight.

Don’t get me wrong here, as a Canadian I’m pulling for GSP.  Not just because he is Canadian but no other fighter has the class that GSP carries himself with.  He rarely has ever gone into business for himself and tried to do what he could to hype a fight.  He refuses to give his opponents any bulletin board material.  Having said all that, it is an extremely tough test against a very dangerous fighter.  It should be a beauty!

And the winner of that fight could next face the winner of the co-main event, Martin Kampmann vs Johny Hendricks.  Kampmann has won his last 3, Hendricks only has 1 loss on his resume and is on a 4 fight win streak.  Hendricks last 2 wins were against Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, 2 guys who have cleaned out the welterweight division in the past and earned title shots.  Hendricks comes in as the slight favorite in this fight and I have no reason to dispute that, but you can’t ever sleep on Kampmann.  He has that knack to eat some big shots and mount big comebacks in his fights.  He has beaten some of the best, including a split decision win over Carlos Condit in 2009.

The rest of the card isn’t anything to get too hyped over.  Tom Lawlor usually gives you an entertaining fight and he is up against Francis Carmont.  Same goes for Mark Hominick as he looks to get back in the win column.  He is on a 3 fight losing streak which started with his loss at UFC 129 in Toronto when he fought Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title.  But this card is about 2 big fights and it’s nice to see the UFC with a quality card like this one.


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