The old cliche goes that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe it does, but in special circumstances like that of Georges St-Pierre it also makes the mind forget.
After 19 months on the sidelines, the most explosive, most dominant welterweight in the history of the UFC returns in front of his home fans at UFC 154. And he does so at a time when sections of the MMA community need reminding of his exceptional talents.
Standing across from the takedown machine is the Natural Born Killer Carlos Condit, a man so cool on the surface that it is chilling. The winner will be crowned the undisputed king of the UFC's welterweight division... something we have not had for 19 long months...
Georges St-Pierre v Carlos Condit
Where the fight could be won or lost: Every time Georges St-Pierre steps in the cage, it's a tough matchup for the guy on the other side. This is no exception. Carlos Condit's camp has said the best way to beat St.-Pierre might be to pressure him. Easier said than done. St-Pierre's counter-jab isn't highlight-reel material, but it's one of the best tools in all of mixed martial arts. St-Pierre's thought process is so quick. He recognises counter-opportunities and reacts explosively on every opening he gets. If Condit kicks, as he likes to do, St-Pierre will catch them all day. If Condit's plan secretly is to counter, St-Pierre will drive him back with the jab, trap him along the fence and take him down.
It's not as though Condit has nothing going for him. His athleticism is underrated. He's got good speed and fast-twitch reactions. He's tough to keep down and incredibly active off his back. He's unpredictable and he's got a ton of heart, as much or even more than St-Pierre. But St-Pierre is better.
The pick: Georges St-Pierre - Unanimous decision
Martin Kampmann v Johny Hendricks
Where the fight could be won or lost: Martin Kampmann is vulnerable to left hooks. It is what it is. That's dangerous against Johny Hendricks, who's got a good one. If you're Hendricks, you don't want to be in the clinch. Kampmann has terrific knees and he'll have no trouble getting them under the 5-foot-9 Hendricks' chin. Kampmann's cardio isn't talked about enough. He gets hit too easily, but he's durable and sets a high pace even when he's hurt. That can be physically and psychologically exhausting for an opponent come the third round.
Hendricks will sell out on the double-leg here and there. Kampmann has good defensive wrestling to combat that, but he needs to be wary of getting away from the fence after he stuffs those attempts.Kampmann has a good track record when it comes to hard-hitting wrestlers. He's beaten two of them in his last three fights. If he can just be better defensively early on, his cardio, length and punching accuracy might take over late. Hendricks is a finisher, though, and that's what happens here.
The pick: Johny Hendricks - TKO