The Highs and Lows of UFC 158

By Roy Billington

Saturday night the UFC hit Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the long-awaited grudge match between welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz, as well as former UFC Interim Welterweight Champion and WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit taking on NCAA All-American Johny Hendricks. The event also featured a stacked undercard featuring a good mix of established fighters and Ultimate Fighter alumni. Here are the Highs and Lows of Saturday night’s UFC 158 event:

The Highs

The excitement kicked off with a bout between Team Alpha Male’s TJ Dillashaw and Issei Tamura, which on paper looked like a mismatch, and proved to be true. From the opening bell Dillashaw looked to show off his newly-honed Muay Thai and make a statement. Since Duane Ludwig took up the role of Team Alpha Male’s head coach, all team members seem to have evolved vastly from their punch-centric standup.

Dillashaw mixed up his striking well and also switched up levels on numerous occasions to showcase his superior wrestling. It was the aforementioned wrestling that led to the fight-finishing knee; Dillashaw faked a double leg, to which Tamura reacted, leaving him defenceless for the concussion-inducing knee that followed. Dillashaw’s performance last night showed he is ready for a step up in competition, and I say he should face Raphael Assuncao next.

Next up on the Facebook prelims was Rick “The Horror” Story vs. Strikeforce import Quinn Mulhern, and as always, Story came out all guns blazing. Story has always stood out for his raw aggression, and last night was no different. From the get go he utilized his power and waded through Mulhern‘s strikes to land heavy blows of his own.

After what looked like an inadvertent eye poke, Story followed up with an array of vicious blows to both the head and body of the defenceless Mulhern, leaving the referee with no option but to call the fight.

I have long been a fan of Story, and felt after his performances against Hendricks and Dustin Hazelett he was destined for contendership, but somewhere along his ascent up the rankings he went astray and lost focus. Hopefully Saturday night’s performance will signal a return to form for Rick “The Horror” Story.

Jordan Mein made his MMA debut at the age of 16 against Rory MacDonald. Fast forward 7 years, and MacDonald is a welterweight contender, while Mein is finally beginning to get the recognition that he deserves. Mein debuted in the Octagon Saturday night against the ever-durable Dan Miller, and what ensued was nothing short of spectacular, as Mein did the impossible and finished Dan Miller for the first time in his storied mixed martial arts career.

Next for Mein should be a bout with fellow Canadian Claude Patrick — possibly this summer in Winnipeg — but what I would also really love to see is a matchup between Mein and the Icelandic sensation Gunnar Nelson.

The final high encompasses two welterweight bouts from the night, as I was unbelievably impressed with both Condit vs. Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger vs. Nate Marquardt. While Ellenberger decisively finished Marquardt via KO, the other welterweight clash was less clear cut. I disagreed with the judges and scored it in favour of Condit, but it was still an amazing fight. In victory Hendricks suffered a hand injury, so don’t expect a bout with GSP to happen until late summer at the earliest.

I hope the UFC decides to pair Ellenberger and Condit together in the meantime; I would love to see a repeat of their classic UFN 19 fight.

The Lows

As a fight fan, nothing annoys me more than fighters making excuses after subpar performances, and last night I was particularly annoyed with Nick Diaz. Although Diaz is undoubtedly one of the most talented fighters in the UFC at present, his behaviour after his bout with GSP last night was reminiscent of a child: not only did he bring up excuses for his performance, but he also begged for a rematch, and like a child threatened to give up and quit the sport because things aren’t going his way.

I was also particularly disappointed by his in-ring antics. Like many, I enjoy his in-ring taunting, but on Saturday night, his insistence on throwing strikes after the bell displayed a real lack of sportsmanship.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Diaz as a fighter and find his inner workings intriguing, but if he focused more on fighting and less on coming up with excuses, he would be a lot better off.

Another recurring gripe for me is the UFC’s insistence on putting mid-tier fighters like Nick Ring and Colin Fletcher on the PPV portion of the card, and demoting top fighters like Dillashaw and Story to the Facebook prelims. This has happened on numerous events now — most recently when John Moraga was forced onto Facebook for his number one contender fight, while Derek Brunson was featured on the main card — and this decision to have some of the world’s best fighters fight on an underviewed platform really annoys me.

UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz took place on March 16, 2013 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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