UFC 167 Preview - By Adam Curley
Georges St-Pierre vs Johny Hendricks GSP has won 11 straight fights, he’s the greatest welterweight to ever grace the Octagon, and has rarely been challenged in his recent championship defences (apart from a brief scare after a Carlos Condit head kick 12 months ago), but in Johny Hendricks, he faces a dangerous threat to his title reign. Hendricks has his backers and with good reason, there’s no doubt he has the skills and confidence to beat St-Pierre. His wrestling is phenomenal and the challenger has a left hand that could level a rampaging bull. What he doesn’t have is big stage experience, he’s been in the spotlight for months now and it’s here where the man with the belt has a clear advantage.It’s the 170-pound king’s first fight outside Canada since March 2010 when he disposed of Dan Hardy at UFC 111, and although plenty of people are predicting an end to the GSP era, I won’t be backing against the champ.Verdict: GSP by unanimous decision.Rashad Evans vs Chael SonnenThe card’s Co-Main Event is a strange one, no bad blood, no trash talk or even trademark Chael Sonnen ‘truth-talk’ as he calls it, mainly because he and Rashad Evans have shared plenty of time next to each other in the media.The former Light Heavyweight champion has looked sluggish in his last two fights, he got the nod over Dan Henderson but dropped the previous to Little Nog in an upset. There’s no doubt Evans will be looking to get back on track because he’s dropped out of the title picture at 205.Sonnen is in the unique position of already knowing his next fight, a TUF finale grudge match against Wanderlei Silva, and he’s openly admitted to being ‘distracted’ heading into this match-up.Both men have great wrestling pedigree, but I think ‘Suga’ has the edge if they keep it standing, which I think he’ll try and do. He has much more to lose than the ‘Gangster’ and I expect a refreshed Evans to get back to his best for the big occasion.Verdict: Evans by unanimous decision.
Rory MacDonald vs Robbie LawlerIt seems crazy that MacDonald has been talked about as the heir apparent at welterweight for a long time now, before one of the legends of the sport has even relinquished his belt. The man himself has been forced to fend off talk of a fight with training partner and fellow Canadian GSP, that’s before either of them have even stepped into the Octagon for this weekend’s monster card.Has the 24 year-old looked past Robbie Lawler? I hope not for his sake because the ‘Ruthless’ one has returned to the UFC in stunning fashion. What makes his comeback to the top flight even more remarkable is that he’d won just one of his previous four fights in Strikeforce.MacDonald copped some criticism for his lacklustre victory over Jake Ellenberger in July, fair or unfair it doesn’t really matter, what is important for the boy from British Columbia is that he is ready for battle.Finishing fights is what Lawler does; his last 13 W’s haven’t gone the distance. If McDonald has his mind anywhere but inside the cage this weekend and takes his eyes off the American it could be lights out.Verdict: Lawler by TKO (punches).Brian Ebersole vs Rick Story Brian Ebersole, remember this guy? You’re right, who could forget ‘The Hairrow’ no matter how long he’s been away from the glare of the UFC. The American who lives in Australia has been teaching in Thailand, while recovering from an injury he won’t disclose. Before his first loss since 2008 to James Head at UFC 149, remember he’d won four straight fights since stepping up at UFC 127 and to cause a boilover against veteran Chris Lytle in Sydney.Opponent Rick Story is also on the comeback trail after his career went off-road in 2011. ‘The Horror’ was on a six-fight winning streak, which included handing Johny Hendricks his only career loss, before he dropped a shocker to Charlie Brenneman and a decision to Martin Kampmann. Story was tipped to make waves at 170 during his 2010-11 run but has now won just two of his past five fights. A win won’t put his name back up in lights, but a loss might just be disastrous with the stacked division already overflowing. The 29 year-old Story has plenty more on the line than Ebersole, and I think that hunger and desperation gives him the advantage.Verdict: Story by split decision.
Other predictionsTyron Woodley > Josh Koscheck Tim Elliott > Ali BagautinovDonald Cerrone > Evan Dunham Ed Herman > Thales Leites Erik Perez > Edwin FigueroaJason High > Anthony Lapsley Sergio Pettis > Will Campuzano Cody Donovan > Gian Villante