Super Bowl weekend is upon us and below you’ll find our full preview and predictions for the UFC 143: Diaz Vs Condit pay-per-view event from Las Vegas.

Main Card:

Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit

Diaz and Condit battle it out on Saturday night for the interim belt, but the real prize will be a chance to fight GSP later in the year.

This is really a great match-up wherever the fight goes. On the feet you’d have to give Diaz the edge, especially after the way he picked apart BJ penn last time out. His excellent use of range and seemingly endless supply of pintpoint accurate punches have given all of his recent opponents fits and he backs that up with one of the best chins in the business. He’s not a KO striker, but the cumulative effect of his strikes is very impressive and can take the fight out of the hardiest of opponents.

Condit is a more dynamic and versatile striker, with knees being one of his most dangerous weapon, and he’s technically sound and has better movement than Diaz. He also has real heart and can fight through adversity, but he does get hurt easier than his opponent and overall while he has more weapons at his disposal I don’t believe he’s as dangerous with them as Diaz is with his.

Wresting isn’t either man’s strong suit, though I feel Condit has the better takedowns and if he can get the fight to the floor then his ground and pound is effective.

That’s significant as his other goto weapon on the ground – submissions, which account for 13 of his 27 career wins are unlikely to be effective on this occasion as Diaz’ BJJ is top notch.

If it does happen to turn into a jiu-jitsu match-up then again I favor Diaz who’s very technical and is calm under pressure, though Condit is also crafty and quick in the scrambles.

Workrate wise both of these guys are excellent athletes who can function well at a high pace. Diaz has the advantage of having gone five rounds before while Condit is more accustomed to quick finishes. Diaz also has a training regime that includes the kind of endurance workouts that leaves everyone else lagging behind so, also factoring in that Condit has been out since July I anticipate the former Strikeforce champ being the fresher man if this goes into the fifth round.

Prediction:

As you can see I favor Diaz in most areas the fight is likely to go in – but only just. Condit is a terrific test for Diaz and is certainly capable of producing an upset win. Diaz striking style just has a way of breaking down opponents and throwing them off their game though and I think that’s what we’re going to see again here, though Condit won’t go down easily.

Nick Diaz to win by TKO in Rd 4.

Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum

Werdum gets a second shot in the UFC’s heavyweight division and immediately finds himself matched up with a sturdy challenge in the form of ‘Big Country’.

Striking wise Werdum is reasonable solid, but certainly not spectacular. He’s fairly light on his feet and has decent technique, but he’s relatively predictable and lack the kind of power that’s going to threaten Nelson’s remarkable chin.

Nelson’s own striking isn’t always pretty, but he is heavy-handed and his durability allows him to wade through punches in order to land some of his own. Like Werdum there’s little that’s surprising about his offensive output.

Both men do a good job of using their striking to inititate clinch work and takedown attempts. If Nelson can get the fight to the ground, usually courtesy of leg trips, he uses his bulk very effectively to smother his opponents and make life uncomfortable for them. He’s also a talented submission artist and that would normally be his first choice on the ground, often using ground and pound as a means to set-up an sub attempt.

He’ll have his work cut out for him in trying to submit Werdum though as he’s one of the division’s best in this category. He’s quick, shows great awareness and is equally good either off his back or on top. Nelson’s size could be a problem if he does get taken down, but if he is the one to take Nelson down that could be his biggest chance to excel in this bout, though he’ll still struggle to tap ‘Big Country’.

Cardio is certainly something to watch out for in this fight. Nelson will keep plodding on regardless, but his energy levels do drain significantly in the later rounds of fights, though he has taken steps to get in better shape and drop a few pounds which could help. Surprisingly Werdum fatigued badly in his last fight with Alistair Overeem, and Nelson may attempt to use his size to wear him down, but I expect the Brazilian to have focused heavily on his cardio in the build-up to his UFC return.

Prediction:

This should be a good fight and could go either way depending on how the fight is fought. If Werdum can take this to the later rounds then I think he could take advantage of a tiring Nelson on the ground. Having said that I favor Nelson to get the job done of the feet. Like Overeem I think Nelson can keep the fight standing and force Werdum to trade with him where I believe ‘Big Country’ holds the advantage thanks to his bigger punching power and better chin.

Roy Nelson to win by TKO in Rd2.

Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce

After a second failed attempt to win the welterweight title Koscheck now finds himself playing gatekeeper to Pierce who’s looking for a big win to propel him into the upper reaches of the weight class.

Koscheck’s striking has certainly developed considerably over the years, and while I don’t he neccessarily has the power and technique he thinks he does, he is dangerous in this department. Pierce meanwhile is capable on his feet, but while he’s pretty robust he’s not proven to be much of a finisher/ He risks coming off second best if he elects to simply stand and trade with Koscheck and would be better off attempting to engage him from the clinch and make this an ugly, grueling fight.

Both men have a strong wrestling base and it’s possible a clash in this area could result in something of a stalemate, but Koscheck is the more qualified of the two and has integrated it better into his all-round MMA game so if it comes down to it he should come out on top. I think he’s more likely to simply use his skills to keep the fight standing however.

Neither man is especially fond of submission work, though that doesn’t mean they are not well versed enough to do so if neccesary. Therefore, if the fight is on the floor for any length of time then we’re more likely to see strikes than submission attempts.

Prediction:

Pierce is a solid fighter, but it’s hard to see where he has an edge in this fight against Koscheck who’s still one of the division’s best, but is in an awkward spot after his losses to GSP. If he avoids letting his ego take over and doesn’t slack off then this should be a fight he wins, but I think he’ll have a hard time finishing Pierce inside the distance.

Josh Koscheck to win by decision.

Scott Jorgensen vs. Renan Barao

A cracking bantamweight contest sees two of the division’s best in Jorgensen and Barao looking to re-emerge in the title picture with a win on Saturday night.

Jorgensen is as tough as nails and while wrestling is his strong suit he’s certainly capable of looking after himself in a striking battle and what he lacks in flair he makes up for by constantly pushing the pace.

Barao is the quicker and more creative of the two stand-up wise. In true muay-thai tradition he uses all eight limbs effectively and while he’s not wielding KO power he impressed by having the normally very tough to hurt Brad Pickett in all sorts of trouble early in his last fight.

Wrestling wise there’s no question that Jorgensen is the better of the two here. He’s strong, has good takedowns, works tirelessly from top control and has some vicious ground and pound at his disposal.

There’s no doubt that Jorgensen will be looking for that takedown, and therefore Barao will have to rely on his speed and unpredictability to keep him at bay on the feet. If he does get put on his back it’s far from the end of the world however as the Brazilian excels in BJJ and is extremely fast and fluid with his technique.

Barao is a spark plug, but if the fight goes the full 15 minutes then Jorgensen has an excellent gas tank and his ability to grind on his opponents could work in his favor.

Prediction:

Really tough one to call here. Barao has vast amounts of potential and comes in with a remarkable 28 fight unbeaten streak, but Jorgensen could be his toughest test yet and has the wrestling ability and all-round toughness to hit the brakes on his rise to the top here. If he can avoid the takedowns – and that’s a big if – I’m banking on Barao’s superior speed and striking abilities to carry him to a decision victory in an entertaining scrap.

Renan Barao to win by decision.

Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks

Middleweights Herman and Starks get some main card love and will look to shine in the spotlight as they kick of the pay-per-view.

Neither fighter is particularly noteworthy in the striking department, but Herman is at least relatively solid on his feet, can take a fair amount of punishment and should get the better of it if they do let fist fly.

Starks is more likely to be looking to use his superior wrestling to take Herman down early in this fight and look to grind out a decision win.

To do so he’ll have to be on high alert though as Herman has excellent jiu-jitsu and he’ll be aggressively looking for submissions or opportunities to get into scrambles where he can be effective.

Predictions:

Herman is the more well-rounded fighter here and has much more experience and I think that’ll show in this fight as he gets the better of Starks on the feet and then finishes him by submission.

Ed Herman to win by submission in Rd2.

Prelims:

Dustin Poirier vs. Max Holloway

Matt Riddle vs. Henry Martinez

Alex Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa

Rafael Natal vs. Michael Kuiper

Stephen Thompson vs. Dan Stittgen

Matt Brown vs. Chris Cope

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