We are days away from UFC 158, which takes place this Saturday March 16th, at The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. UFC 158 is going to have massive implications on the shape of the UFC's welterweight division.
First of all lets look at the fight between Nate 'The Great' Marquardt and Jake 'The Juggernaut' Ellenberger. Marquardt is coming off of a loss, in his match against Tarec Saffiedine, at Strikeforce's final event in January. Ellenberger is 1-1 in his last 2 in the UFC.
Needless to say, Marquardt needs a win on his return from exile from the UFC. It could also be argued that Ellenberger needs it just as bad. A win from either of these two guys will show that they are ready to compete in the upper echelons of the UFC.
So you could argue that if Marquardt wins, he would jump a good few places in the queue. Ellenberger would potentially be a step closer to having his name mentioned in relation to a future title shot. Demian Maia is making waves at welterweight at the minute, and I would love to see a rematch between Maia and Marquardt. I have a feeling it would go a lot differently this time.
How about Condit and Hendricks? Logic would tell you that the number 1 taking on the number 2 contender would be a match to decide who faces the winner of GSP/Diaz. The way I see it is, if Hendricks wins, he is undoubtedly the next to challenge for the welterweight crown. He has already been made to wait way too long.
Condit, on the other hand, will have to put in a truly dominant performance if he wants to be considered for a title shot. Another Diaz vs Condit type performance, in my opinion, won't get him the shot. The reason being that Carlos Condit got squashed by GSP, and it would seem pointless to send him up for the same fight if his tactics haven't changed.
That is assuming that GSP is still champion after UFC 158. If Condit beats Hendricks, Diaz beats GSP, and Dana White puts Condit up for the title shot, then it will be a Condit vs Diaz title fight. We all know how that went last time.
If Diaz does get past GSP though, surely he will have evolved enough as a fighter to beat Condit in a rematch. Diaz had too many holes in his game, at UFC 143, and if the same Diaz shows up to fight GSP, I think St-Pierre will win with ease.
So what if Diaz and Hendricks win? These two guys would almost be guaranteed a fight of the night bonus just based on their styles. Diaz with his aggressive, stalking, technical boxing, and Hendricks with his heavy-handed, knock-your-head-off approach.
That being said, if Hendricks does lose I would love to see Hendricks vs Marquardt/Ellenberger. The UFC welterweight division is so stacked right now. With the injection of ex-Strikeforce fighters, and the return of GSP, the division is shaping up to be the best in the world, bar none.
When you factor in guys like Jordan Mein, Robbie Lawler, Josh Koscheck, Mike Pyle, Gunnar Nelson, Rick Story, Paulo Thiago, Rory MacDonald and Patrick Cote just to name a few, the possibilities are truly endless.
If GSP still has a hold of his title after Saturday, he really is going to have a long line of really talented guys waiting to challenge him. Things are looking great for fight fans at the minute, and they can only get better in the UFC welterweight division.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more pre-UFC 158 coverage!