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UFC 143 Previews And Predictions By The FightLine Staff

UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit goes down tomorrow night from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and will see Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit do battle for the interim welterweight championship in Georges St-Pierre’s extended absence.

Diaz and Condit will be supported on the main card by a heavyweight tilt between Roy Nelson and Fabricio Werdum, as well as another contest at 170-pounds between Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce. writers Jack Pollock (@PollockJ07), Dana Becker (@DanaBecker) and Mark Wayne (@_MarkWayne) preview the top fights and offer our predictions for the show.

Also, don’t forget to check back tomorrow night for our live, ongoing coverage of UFC 143.

Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit

Forward-moving battlers Nick Diaz (26-7, 1 NC) and Carlos Condit (27-5) are set to meet in the UFC 143 main event in an interim championship bout, with the winner to face Georges St-Pierre upon his return from a torn ACL later this year.

As exciting in the cage as he is intriguing outside of it, Nick Diaz brings a unique and singular style of fighting to the table that has seen him through an eleven-fight winning streak. A supremely conditioned athlete, Diaz is known for taking his opponent’s will by consistently walking through whatever they throw at him and returning fire in great volume. Diaz’s punch output is nearly unmatched by anyone in the sport and his relentless, driving assault has left some of the world’s best looking bewildered and discouraged.

Much like Diaz, Condit is a ruthless competitor with an eye for the finish. His striking style is much less boxing-oriented than that of Diaz, however, as he frequently mixes varying kicks, elbows and knees into his dynamic attack. Also like Diaz, Condit is a superb ground fighter, though he tends to take a more aggressive, chaotic approach, whereas Diaz’s style is more like a methodical dismantling.

Neither man tends to favor wrestling — though both have demonstrated ability there — usually opting to keep things standing until they’re taken down themselves, as they’re both comfortable and dangerous while working off their backs.

Condit and Diaz share similar fighting mindsets as well, with neither man known for backing up or hiding from battle; they both wade straight into the fire and fight as hard as they can, which is usually enough to leave their opponents in a heap.

Mark: I think this fight will end up looking fairly similar to Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone, with Condit giving Diaz some early trouble with his kicks, but Diaz ultimately weathering the storm and keeping up his assault to wear Condit down. Defeating Condit is certainly no easy task and I expect The Natural Born Killer to get in his licks, but, ultimately, Diaz gets the job done by virtue of his immense offensive output. Nick Diaz via unanimous decision

Dana: These are two of the premier welterweights in the world in terms of striking and counter-striking. Nick Diaz prefers to throw the short, quick little punches, while Carlos Condit has more of the “I Want To Knock You Out” style of attack. Despite these two knowing what is on the line, I don’t think either man is going to hold back. Diaz and Condit want to make an impact, and they know that to do that, they need to finish the fight. After Diaz controls the first, and maybe even the second, I think Condit takes over in the third. While Diaz grows frustrated with not being able to finish Condit, “The Natural Born Killer” goes in and finishes the fight after dropping Diaz. Carlos Condit via third round TKO (ground and pound)

Jack: A lot of people are overlooking Condit in this fight, and you can add me to that list. I just don’t see him having an answer to Nick Diaz’s relentless pace and the incredible volume of punches he throws. We know Condit is an explosive striker so if he can land a flying knee or maybe some elbows early, this could turn out differently but I see him backing up most of this fight. The longer it goes, the more it will favor Diaz. I predict the Stockton native putting on a boxing clinic in similar fashion to his bout against Penn and if it goes to the ground, he’s no slouch there either. Diaz via third round TKO (strikes)

Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum

Heavyweights Roy “Big Country” Nelson (16-6) and Fabricio “Vai Cavallo” Werdum (14-5-1) both have their hearts set on winning the UFC title in their division, but they’ll have to get past each other first.

After dropping two straight contests to Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir, Big Country got back to his winning ways by beating Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic into retirement. Lately looking more svelte each time he comes to fight, Roy Nelson is a tough and dangerous all-around fighter who continues to evolve despite pushing 36.

Fabricio Werdum recently had an impressive three-fight winning streak (which included a shocking upset victory over Fedor Emelianenko) snapped in a lackluster decision against current number one contender Alistair Overeem. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace with continually developing striking is hoping to make a big statement in this fight so that he may move toward the title and a possible rubber match with Overeem.

Mark: Nelson looked great at today’s weigh-ins, so you’ve got to wonder about the obvious changes he’s made to his training. He could very well show up with some new tricks in his bag, but either way, he’s going to be a tough fight for Werdum. His power and all-around proficiency make him a tough out for most, but I think we’ll be seeing the Vai Cavallo that took out Bigfoot Silva and Fedor, not the one who butt-scooted to a decision loss against Overeem. I think Werdum will utilize his reach to score and do damage on the feet, while peppering in takedowns and looking for ground and pound as well en route to a solid decision win. Werdum via unanimous decision

Dana: A perfect style fight for both men, as each is experienced on the ground. With that being said, look for Fabricio Werdum to employ the same strategy that Junior dos Santos did against Roy Nelson; sticking and moving with timely strikes. Nelson can’t move as well as Werdum, so the challenge will come in trying to either knock Werdum out or get him to the ground and submit him. Either way, that isn’t a great idea for Nelson. Werdum via second round KO

Jack: Fabricio Werdum has phenomenal jiu-jitsu as does Roy Nelson, though we don’t often see it from Big Country. I see both black belts neutralizing each other on the ground and actually spending the majority of their time on their feet. Nelson will have to find a way to close the distance on Werdum who holds a 5″ reach advantage, but we know the guy has a chin to absorb some of those punches on his way in. I see a slightly leaner Nelson catching Werdum with a big overhand right. Nelson via second round TKO

Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce

The main card hosts another scrap between top welterweights, with former title challenger Josh Koscheck (16-5) taking on Mike Pierce (13-4) in a fight that both men hope will help them nudge their way into the title picture.

After having his eye jabbed to mush by Georges St-Pierre, Josh Koscheck rebounded by knocking out former champion Matt Hughes in one round this past September. An outstanding collegiate wrestler, Koscheck’s hard work at the American Kickboxing Academy has paid dividends in his striking game, which is augmented by his natural power.

The criminally underrated Mike Pierce has long flown under the radar at 170lbs. despite the fact that his only two Octagon losses in seven UFC appearances were very close decisions to Jon Fitch and Johny Hendricks. Pierce was also an accomplished collegiate wrestler and has shown proficiency with submissions and striking both.

There’s a little bad blood going into this one also, with a slightly disrespectful pre-fight build up culminating in a very tense staredown at today’s weigh-ins that resulted in the two fighters having to be separated.

Mark: I truly believe Josh Koscheck is one of the best welterweights in the world, but I think he runs into a difficult style match up with Pierce. Koscheck has shown susceptibility to takedowns in the past and, though his striking has really come together over the past few years, he still shows some deficiencies in that area that I think Pierce can capitalize on. Pierce has gone mostly unrecognized for too long and I think tomorrow night he’s going to rise to the occasion, as well as prominence by picking up an impressive victory over Koscheck. Pierce via second round TKO (ground and pound)

Dana: I think I am in the minority, but I believe Mike Pierce has a great opportunity to defeat Josh Koscheck. This seems like a total “trap” fight for Koscheck, as he has talked and talked and talked about wanting other fighters, but is not really saying all that much about Pierce. In Pierce, “Kos” has a very sound opponent, and he will need to be on top of his game or else. Maybe I am wrong and Koscheck is just playing, but I see Pierce taking this one. Pierce via unanimous decision

Jack: Mike Pierce is one of these guys who is poised to break into the elite of the welterweight division. He’s shown that he has solid wrestling and can finish guys on his feet. Rumor has it that he’s had a great weight cut and appears confident coming into the fight. Yet, Koscheck has to be the favorite here with far more experience than Pierce. He’s a great example of a guy who was able to transition from being a pure wrestler to an outstanding mixed martial artist. Both are hungry for a win, but I sense an upset here. Pierce has never been finished and I think he has the guts to grind out the victory in a fight that will be contested on the ground and up against the cage. Pierce via unanimous decision