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Well fight fans, UFC 129 is almost upon us, and never has there been a stronger indication of MMA’s status in Canada. Not only will the Rogers Arena stage the biggest gate in MMA history, two Canadians are competing for world titles, with a further five fighting on the main card.

While this is no doubt a source of great pride to locals, a lot could go wrong on Saturday night and potentially end with 55,000 deflated fans roaming the streets of Toronto wondering where it all went wrong. In my eyes, that is a very unlikely outcome but definitely worth consideration.

UFC welterweight champion Georges StPierre has referred to his last four title bouts as the “Toughest of my career”, but you always got the impression George was just extending professional courtesy to his opponents -, I’m not sure Josh Koscheck or Dan Hardy deserved such consideration.

But when he speaks of Jake Shields that way, he means it. And why wouldn’t he? Shields is the first legitimate opponent the UFC have given him since Jon Fitch.

The former Strikeforce Champion’s resume speaks for itself and his ground game is among the best in the entire sport. While he was less than impressive against Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut, he will be an altogether different animal in Toronto. Nobody knows this better than GSP, who has not overlooked Shields for a second, despite many fight game fans and commentators doing so.

With that said, I have to go with St Pierre. This fight comes down to basic math; Shields can only really win one way, while the champion has a far more varied arsenal. Shields’ stand up is, at best, rudimentary, so he has to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible but, where GSP is concerned that is easier said than done. George is an expert at taking fighters out of their strength zones, between his wrestling defense and highly underrated stand up, I think he can frustrate Shields and eventually grind him down.

Of course, anything can happen; a moment’s lapse and the challenger can finish everything with a variety of submissions. But St Pierre’s game plans and cerebral approach to fighting are his biggest assets; ego-driven risks are not an option for him. The nature of his victory is what I’m looking at, he’ll want to finish Shield and silence any lingering doubters in what could possibly be his last fight at 170.

My prediction: St Pierre by TKO in Round 3.

Chris Parry adds: GSP is, for mine, the greatest example of the ‘new’ MMA in the world today. By that I mean, he’s a guy that came after the initial iteration of the sport, where the sole aim seemed to be KO’s and ground and pound. The New MMA is akin to Johan Cruyff’s Total Football concept, where instead of playing guys who only passed or only attacked or only defended, he expected every player to be proficient in every area. That’s St Pierre, and it’s why Shields won’t win.

Shields is a ground guy. Make no mistake, he’s one of the best ground guys in the world today. But he’s still ‘just’ a ground guy. Whereas St Pierre, standing, kickboxing, clinching, grappling, elbowing and wrestling, is among the world’s elite in every aspect of the game.

If Shields takes him down, St Pierre is at a disadvantage – but not a huge one. Whereas, on feet, Shields isn’t a factor at all.

GSP will be playing for distance, keeping far enough from Shields to keep him from shooting in. And from there he’ll pepper the grounder with Superman punches, long lashing kicks and jabs.

Shields will try to shoot in, but if he doesn’t get the takedown early, you can guarantee he’s going to have his legs kicked to shreds as he chases. And once those legs are battered, the takedown is not an option.

GSP by TKO in round three.

You have to hand it to the UFC; they’ve really pushed the boat for this card, because the co-main event has knock -out and fight of the night written all over it. Toronto’s Mark Hominick can give Canada simultaneous UFC champions for the first time in history- all he has to do is beat Jose Aldo! There is no question the Featherweight champion is in the top three pound for pound fighters in the world but I think The Machine just might be his kryptonite.

If Hominick fights smart and keeps his composure he could cause an upset for the ages. To do so, only a near perfect performance will suffice. Jose Aldo is a KO machine, is lethal with all four limbs and has world-class BJJ.  For Hominick to win he needs to stay on the inside and pick his punches wisely, staying tight to the champion will also neutralize his brutal leg kicks. In doing this he can keep Aldo at bay, score some points and frustrate the Champion.

We’d all like to see these two world-class strikers go toe for toe until one of them drops, but this will not favor Hominick who I believe is conceding power when it comes to sheer blunt force trauma.  Hominick has to stay technical, because behind every wild swing or half baked shot there is a flying knee or right hand waiting.

If he can take fight into the championship rounds Hominick may want to consider taking Aldo down. If successful he should look for a high posture and reign down ground and pound and keep the points ticking over.  It won’t be pretty but it could work. I’m going with my heart on this one and picking the local kid.

My Prediction: Hominick by decision


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