UFC111: Hardy v St. Pierre - Prudential Centre New Jersey
The UFC heads back to American territory following the sojourn to Australia for a welterweight title fight, the first time a British fighter has competed for a belt in the world's premier MMA promotion. Following a disappointing tally of four incorrect main card picks last time out, I've drafted in some help for the fight previews this time around!
The main event here should be an easier fight to call, as George "Rush" St. Pierre, one of very few names in contention for the title the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, takes on Nottingham native Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy. GSP goes in as a 1/5 favourite, his experience and dominance in the welterweight division making him a strong favourite.
Also on the card, a heavyweight contender co-main event fight to decide who will face champ Brock Lesnar on his return to the Octagon, featuring previous champ Frank Mir and relative newcomer Shane Carwin. Other men with title aspirations, back in the welterweight division, face off as John Fitch and Thiago Alves, both vanquished foes of GSP, look to work their way back up the ladder.
GSP's fifth consecutive title fight sees him up against an outsider in the betting, but that is unlikely to mean that 1/5 shot George has not prepared for this fight to the best of his ability. The last time he faced a man he was expected to beat easily, a Matt Serra punch left him staggered and eventually beaten by the New Jersey man. St. Pierre will wish to leave no chance of this happening against 10/3 Dan Hardy, who has great confidence in his striking ability and will look to prove that lightening can strike the same place twice, flush on the chin of the Canadian champion. Read the full preview here.
Mir's nemesis, Brock Lesnar once more looms over the horizon having recovered from intestinal problems, and Mir must get through power puncher Shane Carwin to again take on the champion. At 8/13, Mir is expected to do so by William Hill but 6/5 Carwin has shocked a number of opponents and fans on his way to this top contender fight with his overwhelming KO power and will look to do so again. Read the full preview here.
These men are having a rematch to attempt to re-establish themselves as forces within the 170lb weight class after attempting title shots against headliner St. Pierre and being dispatched mercilessly. Fitch has won three subsequent fights, all by unanimous decision and has faced some criticism for not finishing his opponents. However much he wishes to make this fight more exciting, he will not find it easy to prevail against the 8/13 favourite Alves. Like Fitch, Alves survived five rounds against GSP but lost a unanimous decision; he has not fought since whilst recovering from a knee injury. He'll be keen to show that it is him, and not the 6/5 Fitch, who deserves a rematch with the champ first. Read the full preview now.
The rest of the main card includes a third welterweight fight, up and comer Jake Ellenberger taking on Ben Saunders, with betting available at 11/10 Ellenberger, 4/6 Saunders. Saunders has the experience and skills to beat Ellenberger but in two previous UFC fights Jake has shown excellent durability and should be a strong test for Saunders striking ability.
The fifth fight takes place in the lightweight division as Jim Miller comes off an impressive victory over Duane Ludwig to face Mark Bocek. Miller looked solid in all areas in the swift submission victory over Ludwig, but will need to exercise caution in taking BJJ black belt Bocek to the mat. Mark has won his last three fights by rear naked choke and will look to use his octagon experience to avoid Miller's striking and keep the fight within his own comfort zone.
The preliminary fights include Nate Diaz in his first fight at welterweight opposite Dan Hardy victim Rory Markham, and TUF 7 alumnus Matt Brown facing Ricardo Almeida. A further four fights complete the evenings action, Kurt Pellegrino fighting Fabricio Camoes, Rodney Wallace Vs Jared Hamman, Rousimir Palhares opposite Tomasz Drwal, and Matt Riddle against Greg Soto.