MMA Today: St-Pierre to show what he’s made of in UFC 154

Nov 16 2012 - 3:11pm

Before last October, Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was considered one of the top pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world.

After a pair of knee surgeries and nearly 17 months of inactivity, St-Pierre's status is a mystery.

Saturday night, St-Pierre can erase any doubts and reaffirm his status among the sport's best when he faces UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 154. The card, which can be seen on pay-per-view live at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST, will emanate from the Bell Centre in Montreal.

St-Pierre (22-2) won nine consecutive fights, including a decision over Jake Shields in April 2011. Before a scheduled title defense against Condit last October, St-Pierre injured his knee. He was due to fight again in February, but a second knee injury in December required surgery, and St-Pierre didn't resume his normal training until August.

"What I realize the most is when you get hurt and you cannot (train and fight) for a long time, you realize how much you miss it," said St-Pierre, a 31-year-old native of Saint-Isidore, Quebec, who is appearing in his 12th UFC title fight. "It's almost like when you're in love with your girlfriend, for example. When you're with her every day, you don't realize you're in love with the person. When you're away for a long time, you realize you miss her. It's almost the same thing."

Despite the fighter's lengthy layoff, Condit is not expecting any diminishment in St-Pierre's skills.

"I'm not counting on it," said Condit, a 28-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M. "I'm expecting Georges to be in top form, as good as he's ever been. That's what I'm preparing for.

"... This fight is going to be dynamic. Georges and myself are both well rounded. We're going to display all aspects of this sport, whether it is very good stand-up, wrestling, jiu-jitsu. I really feel this is going to go all over the place and be exciting."

Welterweight contenders Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks will appear in the co-main event. The winner will likely get a title shot. The main card will also feature a pair of middleweight fights -- Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor and Nick Ring vs. Constantinos Philippou. Featherweights Mark Hominick and Pablo Garza will open the pay-per-view.

The preliminaries are split between FX and the Internet (www.facebook.com/UFC/). The FX portion will air live at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and include: middleweights Patrick Cote vs. Alessio Sakara; light heavyweights Cyrille Diabate vs. Chad Griggs; lightweights Mark Bocek vs. Rafael dos Anjos; and lightweights Sam Stout vs. John Makdessi. The Facebook fights can be seen two hours earlier and include: featherweights Antonio Carvalho vs. Rodrigo Damm; welterweights Matthew Riddle vs. John Maguire; bantamweights Ivan Menjivar vs. Azamat Gashimov; and featherweights Steven Siler vs. Darren Elkins.

BELLATOR UPDATE

The lightweight and featherweight tournament semifinals comprise the entire televised card of Bellator 81 on Friday night, which will be held at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., and can be seen live on MTV2 and spike.com at 8 p.m. EST and on tape delay at 8 p.m. PST.

Longtime MMA veteran Rich Clementi, whose first professional fight came in 1999, will face Marcin Held in one half of the lightweight semifinals. Clementi, 35, is 45-21-1 over his career, including wins in his last three fights. Held, 20, won his last four fights to improve to 14-2. His last loss came to current Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler in 2011. The other semifinal will match Dave Jansen against Ricardo Tirloni.

The featherweight semifinals pair Marlon Sandro vs. Dustin Neace and Jonas Billstein vs. Perry Filkins.

The preliminaries, which can be seen live at spike.com at 6 p.m. EST/3 p.m. PST, include: bantamweights Robbie LeRoux vs. Ruben Rey; lightweights Paul Barrow vs. Matt Bessette; welterweights Sam McCoy vs. Brennan Ward; middleweights Dan Cramer vs. Joe Lamoureux; catchweights Matt Uhde vs. Mike Mucitelli; and lightweights Andrew Calandrelli vs. Eric Brown and Murad Machaev vs. Lorawnt-T Nelson.

-- More than 50 fighters showed up at a casting call at American Top Team training facility in Coconut Creek, Fla., over the weekend to vie for a spot in Bellator's new reality program, which will begin taping in January and air on Spike TV later in 2013.

-- Former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, who lost his last two fights, defeated bantamweight Owen Evinger last week. Warren will likely participate in next season's bantamweight tournament.

(Contact Bob Emanuel Jr. at mixedmartialartstalk@gmail.com.)

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