via video.ufc.tv UFC 129 Weigh-In on April 29, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photos from Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: GSP Vs. Jake Shields, Randy Couture Vs. Lyoto Machida And More

SB Nation MMA brings you a UFC 129 fight card preview before the fights kick off tonight. We'll be going fight-by-fight giving previews for the Spike TV bouts and the pay-per-view main attractions. We'll take a look at Georges St. Pierre vs. Shields, Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick and so much more.

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Georges St. Pierre Vs Jake Shields

Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields

Jake Shields is an outstanding fighter. Unfortunately, he's a relative unknown who many fans aren't giving a fair shake to take this fight with Georges St. Pierre. While the UFC has done a fantastic job in showcasing the kind of fighter Shields truly is, it still might not be enough to beat one of the sport's pound-for-pound best.

There isn't a doubt in my mind that Georges St. Pierre wants to keep this fight standing. With the best wrestling in the UFC's welterweight division at his disposal, that's a likely possibility. GSP will utilize his jab and dictate the pace of this fight if he can force Shields to strike with him.

Shields may be a wizard on the ground, but the question is whether or not he can get the fight there. I honestly don't believe he constantly can, which removes the core of Shields' plan for success. This fight is less about Shields being inadequate and more about St. Pierre being dominant.

My pick: St. Pierre

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Jose Aldo Vs Mark Hominick

Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo makes his long awaited promotional debut in what could be a tough fight with Mark Hominick. In addition to defending his UFC title for the first time, Aldo is going to have to do it in front of the biggest crowd in UFC history, the majority of which will be cheering for fellow Canadian Hominick.

Whether or not UFC jitters will affect Aldo is yet to be seen, but it always has to be taken into account when you take a look at the variables. There's also the ring rust of not fighting for seven months. Hominick has been here before. He's competed in the UFC and has nearly 30 fights under his belt. He's on a five-fight win streak and is one of, if not the best, technical strikers in the featherweight division.

Aldo may be the sport's pound-for-pound king. At only 24 years of age, Aldo appears to be on a rampage of the featherweight division. After taking the WEC 145lbs crown from Mike Brown in 2009, Aldo has looked like an absolute machine. I don't believe he's lost a round in any fight of his I've ever seen. Right now, he may be his own biggest competition. Between the long neck injury layoff, the UFC jitters and the pressures that go along with being a UFC champion at such a young age, his biggest obstacles may all be mental.

Hominck's overall game has dramatically improved from being a considered chiefly a striker a few years ago, but I'm not so sure he should throw out his greatest asset by trying to take Aldo to the mat. Aldo's explosiveness doesn't just translate to his striking, he can put the same amount of force into breaking free of submissions. I have to like Aldo in this fight.

My pick: Aldo

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Randy Couture Vs Lyoto Machida

Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida

Not much has been made of Randy Couture's final fight in the UFC. Is it being buried in a sea of ‘GSP mania' or is it just not that big a deal to anyone? Not exactly sure. Either way, it seems like one of the sport's great pioneers should be sent out with a bit more of a bang.

Looking to sour the night for Couture is Lyoto Machida. After dropping two straight to Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson, this fight is do or die for the former champion. While I'm sure fans would love to see Couture's career go out on a high note, it would almost certainly come at the price of Machida's.

Machida has to avoid a slow start in this fight. We saw in his fight with Rampage Jackson that he can give away early rounds because of his unique style. Couture will be constantly moving forward, always pressuring. He'll want to pin Machida's hips to the cage and take away his mobility. Couture does not take fights he doesn't think he can win. Be it Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman or even James Toney, Couture is very good about finding an opponent's holes and exploiting them. He is the master gameplanner and is tough to pick against no matter the circumstances.

I just think Machida is too much right now. He knows what's at stake in this fight and he won't allow himself to fall into the same mistakes that cost him in his last two fights. Couture hasn't competed with someone on Machida's level for a few years now. If you take a look at the guys Couture has beaten over the last seven years, aside from Vera, who was cut, none of them are still fighting in the UFC. Couture is my best bet to win as an underdog, but I'm going with Machida.

My pick: Machida

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Jason Brilz Vs Vladimir Matyushenko

Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

I seem to be in pretty good company with everyone ranting about this fight making the main card. Oh well, can't judge it until we see it. This is a pretty tough call. While I love what Brilz showed in his ‘loss' to Lil' Nog, his lengthy layoff could negate any of the momentum he gained from that performance.

Matyushenko is just a solid veteran. Nothing spectacular, but no giant holes in his game. He has a solid chance with almost anyone in the division not named Jon Jones. This is a toss up, but I'm picking Matyushenko. I'm siding with experience and the concern in Brilz' 11 months away from competition.

My Pick: Matyushenko

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Mark Bocek Vs Ben Henderson

Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson

To me, this is actually one of the more intriguing fights on the card. We have the UFC debut of one of the WEC's biggest stars in Ben Henderson and one of the UFC's great, unsung veterans in Mark Bocek. The UFC certainly didn't roll out the welcome mat for Henderson.

Somewhat similar to St. Pierre and Shields, Henderson is facing a double whammy of fighting an opponent who is both extremely tough and largely unknown. While most fans might be expecting Henderson to just pick up the pieces after losing his title in the WEC's final show, Bocek has all the tools to spoil the night and take this.

Bocek is the better pure grappler, but I like Henderson's lankiness if he can keep this fight off his back. Henderson's title fight with Anthony Pettis revealed some holes in his BJJ, both offensively and defensively. If he can avoid being submitted, I see Henderson doing a bit more to win this fight. I like what I've seen in the WEC against some solid competition like Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner.

My pick: Henderson

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Nate Diaz Vs Rory MacDonald

Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald

Two tough guys trying to make some noise in a UFC welterweight division desperately looking for some new faces circling contendership. Both Nate Diaz and Rory MacDonald are a few years away from scratching that level, but these are exactly the sort of fights each needs to point to when they eventually start making claims. With each of them coming off of tough losses, someone needs to avoid dropping their second straight fight tonight.

I'm still haunted by what Joe Stevenson was able to do to Diaz in their fight at ‘The Ultimate Fighter Finale' back in 2009, but I think he actually has an edge in the wrestling department over MacDonald. Less of a pure wrestler and more of a Judo specialist, Diaz comes at funky angles and has the advantage any time this fight hits the mat. MacDonald is no slouch in any one major area, but he may not be able to find a phase of the game where he edges out Diaz. Perhaps some hard work in the clinch, but we'll have to see.

I like Diaz in this fight. He's a good bit more experienced at competing at the UFC level and he should be able to handle the young Canadian. At only 21 years of age, the fact that MacDonald is even fighting professionally is amazing. He'll be a monster once he gets some more work in the cage.

My pick: Diaz

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Jake Ellenberger Vs Sean Pierson

Jake Ellenberger vs. Sean Pierson

I'm usually pretty hard pressed to find a reason to pick against Jake Ellenberger, but this fight has some issues for me. We know Ellenberger can maul tough guys like Mike Pyle and John Howard, but Pierson presents some problems in this fight. Pierson, a southpaw and an absolute technician on the feet, should give Ellenberger some issues in the set up. Concern for me comes in the lack of time Ellenberger had to prepare for him.

People are overlooking Pierson's overall game and this should by no means be a cakewalk for Jake. Ellenberger, who cuts down a fair bit to make 170, hasn't had the kind of training camp he's used to. He's taking this fight on extremely short notice and we'll have to see what sort of an effect that has on his cardio.

With that said, I like Ellenberger on his worst day just a bit more than I like Sean Pierson. He should be able to use his dominant wrestling to maintain a smothering top game. This is a huge leap in competition for Pierson and I'm not quite sure he's ready. It could be tougher than Ellenberger and fans were counting on, but I see Ellenberger taking this fight.

My pick: Ellenberger

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UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: GSP Vs. Jake Shields, Randy Couture Vs. Lyoto Machida And More

Throughout the day to day, SB Nation MMA will be offering fight-by-fight previews of every bout on the UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields fight card. These will serve as a reminder of who the fighters are, how they got here, what the experts predict will happen and more.

Also, SB Nation MMA's live coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EST at the beginning of the under card. We'll have round-by-round scoring beginning at 6 p.m. ET with the Facebook fights. Be sure to follow Luke Thomas on Twitter @MMANation for further developments and analysis.

It's going to be a night to remember. Let's take one more look at it before the big show.

Main card:
Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields [WW title]
Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick [FW title]
Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida
Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson

On Spike at 8 p.m. ET:
Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald
Jake Ellenberger vs. Sean Pierson

On Facebook at 6 p.m. ET:

Claude Patrick vs. Daniel Roberts
IvanMenjivar vs. Charlie Valencia
Jason MacDonald vs. Ryan Jensen
John Makdessi vs. Kyle Watson
Pablo Garza vs Yves Jabouin

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