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Predictions: Can Carlos Condit stop Demian Maia's takedowns?

Welterweight Carlos Condit headlines Saturday's UFC Fight Night card in Vancouver against Demian Maia. Jason Silva/USA TODAY Sports

UFC 202 was bananas, but now the sport rolls on. Up next: a key welterweight rematch between Carlos Condit and Demian Maia on Saturday.

This high-profile 170-pound bout was actually supposed to take place at UFC 202, but it now headlines Saturday's card at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Condit is coming off a five-round decision loss to Robbie Lawler in a championship fight. Maia, meanwhile, is riding a five-fight win streak. In addition, Anthony Pettis makes his featherweight debut against Charles Oliveira.

Let's take a closer look at this weekend's main card. Don't agree with these picks? Let me know on Twitter: @bokamotoESPN.

Main event

Carlos Condit (30-9) vs. Demian Maia (23-6)
Welterweights
Odds: Condit -110; Maia -110

In a way, you could almost compare a Maia takedown to a knockout artist's signature haymaker in that it doesn't take many of them to win a fight.

We all know what Maia wants to do and that is take Condit to the floor. And when Maia has success getting his man down, he doesn't let them back up. It's why he's absorbed a mere 12 strikes in his past three fights combined. That's crazy.

Mostly, Maia's strategy to land a takedown is to shoot on his opponent's lead leg. Quite often, it's a naked shot -- he doesn't even set it up with strikes. He trusts in the speed at which he changes levels and his ability to chain wrestle and finish a takedown. And it is true: If Maia gets a decent grip on that lead leg, his opponents tend to go down. Against someone willing to fight off the fence, and Condit is, he might also have success working doubles there.

Just to cut to the chase here, I do believe Maia can and will take Condit down. Condit's takedown defense in his WEC and UFC career sits at 39 percent. He was once taken down 19 times in the span of two fights. He's been susceptible to the lead-leg takedown before and, as mentioned previously, he'll hang out along the fence. His defensive grappling is centered more around having a dangerous guard and scrambling up than it is thwarting the initial shot.

Does that mean Condit is doomed? Not necessarily. Going back to the comparison between Maia's takedown and a heavy hitter's best punch, it's most effective early. Maia is pretty one-dimensional, and the longer a fight goes, the more challenging it can be for him to score a takedown. A non-disguised single leg shot can be rather ineffective if it slows down. And this being a five-round fight against a busy opponent, Maia's shot figures to slow over time.

If this fight hits that moment of "Maia shoots in desperation, Condit sprawls, then Maia falls immediately to his back just hoping Condit is foolish enough to follow him," the battle might be as simple as Condit's patience. In that scenario, he should be able to keep it on the feet, which vastly favors him. In other words, if there comes a time when Condit really doesn't respect Maia's takedown anymore, this could turn into a blowout for "The Natural Born Killer" in a hurry.

So, big question here: Can Maia submit Condit in the earlier rounds, thus avoiding the likely proposition of having to stand with him late? That sure seems like a coin flip bet. Maia's submissions are world class, but Condit's only been tapped three times in 14 years.

PREDICTION: Maia dominates early, but Condit storms back big. Condit by fifth-round TKO.

Featured undercard bouts

Anthony Pettis (18-5) vs. Charles Oliveira (21-5), featherweight
It's a new weight class for Pettis, and although Oliveira is dangerous in multiple areas, I think he introduces himself in a big way.
Prediction: Pettis TKO, first round

Paige VanZant (6-2) vs. Bec Rawlings (7-4), strawweight
Following her success in other business opportunities, it's natural to wonder whether VanZant is still fully committed to fighting. If she is, this looks like a win. If not, we'll know real quick.
Prediction: VanZant by decision

Jim Miller (26-8) vs. Joe Lauzon (26-11), lightweight
Running back one of the more memorable fights of 2012. Both are coming off quick stoppages at UFC 200. Should be fun.
Prediction: Lauzon via decision