Here's a sentence I don't think I've ever written before: there's a decent chance Georges St. Pierre could lose his next fight. One of my cardinal rules in picking UFC bouts is almost always going against a fighter who is coming back from a long absence, be it due to injury, suspension or just a lack of bookings. Generally anyone who hasn't fought in 9-10 months (I call it my 'pregnancy rule') gets my thumbs down. For GSP, it's been almost 19 months since he last stepped into the cage thanks to a blown-out ACL that has put some genuine question into whether or not the St. Pierre who dominated the UFC for years is still with us. In general, elite athletes don't return to form after major injuries and some fall off the map entirely.
This all being said, I'm still picking GSP for a few reasons. Firstly, if it wasn't for the injury, I think he would walk all over Carlos Condit. This isn't to say Condit isn't a good or well-rounded fighter, I just don't think he brings anything to the table that GSP hasn't handled in the past. Secondly, there is no doubt in my mind that GSP has been doing everything possible to ensure his knee is back up to full health, and he wouldn't be fighting unless he was ready; if he'd had any setbacks, he would've pulled out of the fight, Montreal location be damned. Thirdly, even if GSP isn't at 100 percent (say, 80-85%), I think that still might be enough to take Condit. St. Pierre beat Jake Shields while half-blind and overcame a torn adductor to dominate Thiago Alves, so if he can adjust to injuries mid-fight and still easily win, it's very easy to think that he's used his training camp to adjust to whatever setbacks his ACL injury may have presented him. Fourthly, GSP ain't losing in Montreal. That's just not happening.
It's a tough situation for Condit, who has to face the champ on his home turf and has been getting grief for his cautious-but-smart gameplan against Nick Diaz in February that earned him this title shot in the first place. Even if Condit wins, he still won't get any credit, as everyone (like me) will just chalk the result up to GSP being rusty. So really, Condit will spare himself from criticism in defeat. Silver living!
* Johny Hendricks over Martin Kampmann, decision
This is ostensibly the #1 contender's bout for the welterweight title but I don't see it playing out that way. This just has the feeling of a dull, unimpressive, 15-minute decision for whomever the winner ends up being, plus apparently the UFC is pushing hard for this GSP/Anderson Silva superfight to take place within the next six months. So presuming that St. Pierre wins as expected, he'll have Silva next and Hendricks or Kampmann will have to cool their jets for up to 10-11 months. Kampmann has been jerked around enough in his career with B.S. decisions that I think he'd wait out as long as it takes to finally get his shot, whereas I could see Hendricks fighting in the interim, maybe even against Nick Diaz. This is a coin flip result so I'll pick Hendricks solely because when in doubt, assume the fates are aligned against Martin Kampmann.
I'm not going to bother with any more analysis since really, this is a pretty lame overall card. Way to rest on the laurels of your main event, UFC bookers. Had GSP gotten injured, you might've had enough Jones/Henderson UFC 151 cancelation situation on your hands.
* Mark Hominick over Pablo Garza, submission, round 1
* Rafael Dos Anjos over Mark Bocek, decision
* Francis Carmont over Tom Lawlor, submission, round 1
* Sam Stout over John Makdessi, submission, round 2
* Antonio Carvalho over Rodrigo Damm, KO, round 2
* Ivan Menjivar over Azamat Gashimov, decision
* Cyrille Diabate over Chad Griggs, submission, round 3
* Darren Elkins over Steven Siler, KO, round 3
* John Maguire over Matt Riddle, submission, round 2
* Patrick Cote over Alessio Sakara, KO, round 1