Georges St-Pierre (24-2) vs. Johny Hendricks (15-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: St-Pierre -220, Hendricks +170
One of the greatest fighters to ever step foot in the octagon, Georges St-Pierre, will once again put his title on the line as he goes up against young star Johnny Hendricks in the main event at UFC 167 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
In his most recent fight at UFC 158 on March 16, Georges St-Pierre defeated Nick Diaz, dominating him for five rounds to win by unanimous decision. That gives him 11 straight wins as he enters this fight, with four of those victories coming against a current or past UFC champion. Seven of his past eight matches have come by way of decision, proving he may be the greatest conditioned athlete in the history of the sport as well. However, he will need to be at his best as Johny Hendricks has as much potential as any fighter in the sport. Hendricks has won six straight bouts, and is coming off a victory over another talented fighter, Carlos Condit at that same UFC 158 event, in a fight that was for a berth to face St-Pierre. Hendricks has lethal knockout power, but also has the conditioning to legitimately compete against the legend.
While 11 of his 24 victories have come by way of decision, St-Pierre has the ability to win a match any way possible. He also has eight victories in his career by knockout, as well as five by submission. “Rush” is extremely quick with his strikes, landing 3.75 per minute, while Hendricks lands 3.09. He truly has the complete arsenal, as he is terrific at taking down his opponent, while also defending against the takedown. St-Pierre’s takedown accuracy is 76 percent, compared to just 50 percent for Hendricks. The 32-year-old St-Pierre is so good at keeping his composure in a fight and not getting sucked out of his game plan. He is extremely disciplined with the ability to keep fighting his style, even if things aren’t going his way. St-Pierre also holds a two-inch height advantage. Hendricks can’t get frustrated if he falters early one, as he has the ability to end the match with his knockout power, and must remain patient and pick his spots in this fight.
“Bigg Rigg” Hendricks has won seven matches by decision, as well as seven wins by way of knockout, while only winning one fight by submission. In a fight against Martin Kampmann on November 17, 2012, he showed how devastating his power is, winning the fight by knockout in just 46 seconds. The 30-year-old Hendricks does not have a lot of wins by submission, but he averages 5.52 takedowns, compared to 4.38 for St-Pierre. He gets a lot of points for taking his opponents to the ground, while also wearing them out as the fight goes in the latter rounds. Hendricks is a talented fighter and is truly deserving of a championship bout. He has never been a fight of this magnitude though, while St-Pierre has lived in title fights. Hendricks must stay composed and not try and end the match in the first minute of the fight, which will be tempting with his five career first-round finishes.
Rashad Evans (23-3-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (29-13-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Evans -185, Sonnen +155
Chael Sonnen looks for another win as he takes on Rashad Evans in what should be a thrilling match at UFC 167 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Throughout his career, Sonnen has been known more as a talker rather than a fighter. However, there is no denying that he is an exceptional fighter, with the ability to win a fight in any matter. In his last match against Mauricio Rua on Aug. 17, Sonnen submitted his opponent in the first round by way of guillotine choke. Sonnen is 6-3 in his past nine fights, but is 6-0 against fighters not named Anderson Silva (two losses) and Jon Jones. With his collegiate background, Sonnen is one of the best wrestlers in all of the sports. His opponent, Rashad Evans, is one of the best fighters to ever enter the Octagon. He has been a champion and has defeated such guys like Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin.
Of his 29 career victories, Sonnen has 17 victories by way of decision. He also has eight knockout victories, as well as four wins by submission. The 36-year-old Oregon native is at his best when he is able to dominate his opponent with his superior wrestling, which will be his big advantage over Evans. His takedown accuracy is a strong 60 percent, compared to just 48 percent by Evans. Sonnen is also a very talented striker, landing 3.14 significant strikes per minute, compared to just 2.09 by Evans, while also being the more accurate striker (44% to 38%). Sonnen, who has a two-inch height advantage over his opponent, has not talked as much coming into this match, in large part because he respects the abilities of Evans, who is as good of a fighter as the UFC has ever seen.
Evans sports an impressive 23 wins to just three losses in his career, and like Sonnen, has done a lot of his work by way of decision. Eleven of his victories have come by decision, while four have been by submission and eight have been knockouts, with five of his past 10 wins coming by KO. In his last match on June 15, he won a split decision against Dan Henderson in a very competitive fight. “Suga” Evans is the type of fighter that is not afraid to get beat up early in the match in order to make sure that he is successful. He is very good with his takedown defense (66 percent) and that will be a key against Sonnen’s elite takedown ability. Evans lost two straight fights against Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and some of the experts were wondering if the former champion was losing his abilities. This match gives the 34-year-old a great opportunity to show that he still has it, as Sonnen is coming in very confident.
Rory MacDonald (15-1) vs. Robbie Lawler (21-9)
Sportsbook.ag Line: MacDonald -400, Lawler +300
Rory MacDonald will try to get closer to earning a title bout as he goes up against Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 on Saturday night.
Since losing to Carlos Condit in 2010, MacDonald has won five straight matches, looking dominant. During the win streak, he has beaten top-notch competition such as Nate Diaz and BJ Penn, showing he has the ability to defeat anybody. He won three of those fights by unanimous decision, while winning the other two with devastating knockout blows. MacDonald’s biggest strength is his quickness, able to deliver a vicious blow at any moment. In that match against Condit, he went toe-to-toe with one of the best fighters in the welterweight class, proving he belongs among the true contenders. With an opportunity for a chance at the title within his grasp, he must be ready to go against a fighter with vicious knockout power as well. Lawler has won his first two matches in the UFC, including an impressive knockout victory over Bobby Voelker at UFC on FOX 8 in his most recent fight on July 27. In that match, he delivered a huge kick to the head, showing impressive ability.
MacDonald is a terrific fighter with the ability to win a match in any different way. Of his 15 victories, he has won six by knockout and six by submission, with seven of those being first-round finishes. The 24-year-old has also won three matches by decision. His quickness will play a huge role in this fight, as he lands 4.13 strikes per minute, a significant advantage over Lawler, who lands just 2.63 strikes per minute. His 51% striking accuracy is also much better than Lawler’s 42% rate, as is his striking defense of 67% (Lawler is 61%). The Canadian-born MacDonald’s biggest advantages in this match will be his athleticism and cardio. While “Ares” has shown the ability to win by way of knockout, he does not want to have this fight turn into a slugfest. If he comes out disciplined, he will be in great shape. However, if he tries to go punch-for-punch against Lawler, he could be in trouble.
Of Lawler’s 21 career victories, 18 have come by way of knockout and 12 wins were first-round finishes. He also has two wins by decision, and one by submission. While the 31-year-old American does not land as many strikes as MacDonald, his punches do a lot more damage. During his two wins this year, “Ruthless” has been able to set the pace of the fight and turn it into more of a slugfest, where he is almost unbeatable in this class. In addition to being one inch smaller than MacDonald, Lawler is at a disadvantage when it comes to the takedown game, as MacDonald has a takedown defense of 86 percent, while Lawler’s is just 63 percent. As long as Lawler is able to control the fight and keep it mostly on his feet, then he is in great shape. With two fighters with such different abilities, whoever is able to come out and dictate the fight will be leaving the octagon with a victory.