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UFC 143 Predictions

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Can Nick Diaz keep his winning streak going and make Carlos Condit his 12th consecutive victim? Or will Condit become the interim welterweight champion? Will Fabricio Werdum's return to the UFC be successful? Or is Roy Nelson ready to earn the biggest win of his MMA career? Is Mike Pierce ready to show he's one of the best welterweights in the world? Or is Josh Koscheck going to fulfill his gatekeeper role and keep Pierce out of title contention?

I'll try to answer those questions and more as I pick the winners at UFC 143.

What: UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit

When: Saturday, the FX preliminary card begins at 8 PM ET and the pay-per-view main card starts at 10.

Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas

Predictions on the five pay-per-view fights below.

Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit
With Georges St. Pierre rehabilitating an injured knee, Diaz and Condit are faced with a big opportunity in the biggest fight either one of them has ever had.

Condit does everything right: He's proficient both standing and on the ground, he finishes almost everyone he faces, and he's a sportsman inside the cage and a gentleman outside of it. Diaz comes out like a guy looking for a street fight, dropping his hands and daring his opponent to take a swing, and he has cultivated a street fighter image outside the cage as well. It's only once the fight gets going that you realize just how technically good a fighter Diaz is.

These guys are close enough that if they fought 10 times I imagine they'd each win five of them. But they'll only fight once, and I have to pick one winner, and I think Diaz's high-volume punching will frustrate Condit and wear him down, and that Diaz will come out on top after 25 minutes of action.
Pick: Diaz

Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum
Nelson is a strong enough grappler that he may be able to avoid getting tapped by Werdum on the ground, and Nelson also packs a powerful enough punch that he could hurt Werdum standing up. That's what makes this fight interesting.

But that's also looking at the fight from the best-case scenario for Nelson. The reality is that Werdum has performed a lot better against high-level opponents than Nelson has, and he has more ways to win a fight than Nelson does. Nelson will probably be cautious enough to avoid getting tapped by Werdum, but Werdum will take the decision.
Pick: Werdum

Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce
Pierce has built up a 5-2 record in the UFC, with the only losses coming against Jon Fitch and Johnny Hendricks, and if he were to beat Koscheck he'd have a good case that he deserves to be considered for title contention. But what Pierce does well, Koscheck does better. This fight is going to be an awfully tough one for Pierce to win, and I expect to see Koscheck take a unanimous decision.
Pick: Koscheck

Renan Barão vs. Scott Jorgensen
While bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and challengers Urijah Faber coach against each other on The Ultimate Fighter and prepare to fight for a third time, the UFC needs to build up some more bantamweight title contenders. This fight should go a long way toward doing that. Barao has a sensational 27-1 record, but Jorgensen has won seven of his last eight, with the only loss coming against Cruz. Jorgensen is Barao's toughest test to date, but I like Barao to pass this test and take another step on the path toward a shot at the champion.
Pick: Barao

Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks
Starks was a good college wrestler who now has an 8-0 professional MMA record, but I don't think he's quite ready for an opponent of Herman's accomplishments. Herman missed nearly two years with a knee injury, but he has won both of his fights since returning and appears to be all the way back, and I expect him to make it three in a row.
Pick: Herman