It was worth the wait.
It had been over 18 months since Georges St. Pierre stepped into the octagon and competed in a UFC fight. This past Saturday marked his return. It was in Canada of course, and in front of a sell-out crowd. But those points were redundant. Where else would GSP's return fight be? And how wouldn't it sell-out? What also should have been redundant was a GSP win. But for one round it looked as if Carlos Condit was going to pull off a monumental upset.
St. Pierre did successfully defend his UFC welterweight title on Saturday, and did it in much the same way he's always defended it: with a well-rounded game where he overwhelms his opponent when the fight is standing, and smothers him when the fight goes to the ground. On Saturday night, it was this same approach that guided GSP to victory, but it was noticeable that GSP wanted a finish instead of a decision in his return fight.
When standing, GSP worked a nice jab and ended up with a target for most of the fight when he opened a cut by Condit's left eye with an elbow in round one. That cut ended up being a big visual aid as the fight went along and the blood continued to flow, and in ever increasing amounts.
When GSP wanted to take the fight to the ground, his double-leg takedown was something Condit had no answer for at the beginning of the fight and no chance of defending as fatigue set in from a mix of punishment and blood loss.
Round three was Condit's best chance to pull off the upset. He knocked GSP down and had him hurt after a left high kick. It was a moment of pure shock for all viewing it. The spot where Condit hit GSP was marked with a bump for the rest of the fight. Condit went in for the kill, but GSP persevered and made it through the storm. Not only that, but GSP ended up dominating the last two minutes of the round and made it the toughest round of the fight to score as any score (10-9 either way or 10-10) would have been satisfactory.
Despite the lopsided scorecards, GSP didn't make it out of this fight unscathed. Not only did he suffer the big kick in round three, but GSP's right eye was swollen noticeably for the second straight fight. More importantly, GSP looked more human than the scorecards indicated. Condit was only in real danger when the fight was on the ground. When it was standing, Condit did land punches and did hold his own in all the exchanges. He didn't win many of them, but he held his own. What many perceived as a slaughter in waiting turned out to be GSP's most competitive and compelling title defense in his near five-year reign as welterweight champion.
Johny Hendricks is now the undisputed #1 contender for the UFC welterweight title, hopefully sealing the next title shot for himself with a first-minute knockout of Martin Kampmann. Hendricks caught Kampmann right on the chin in the first minute, knocking Kampmann flat. Hendricks then got in one final big shot, again to Kampmann's chin, as he lay on his back before the fight was stopped just 40 seconds in.
This is Hendricks' third straight win and second by first-minute knockout against the elite of the welterweight division, this one coming after Hendricks wins against Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. The résumé is solid and seems complete enough, so it's time to give this guy his shot at GSP.
The most entertaining part of the Francis Carmont/Tom Lawlor fight turned out to be Lawlor's entrance in a nerd getup as well as his entrance to the Friday's weigh-in imitating an infamous pro wrestling angle from 1993. As someone who recognized the angle and believes Lawlor pulled the whole thing off beautifully, it was good comedy. The fight itself was more along the lines of tragic comedy.
The story of this fight was simple: Carmont was going for a kimura or keylock submission with Lawlor's left arm, and Lawlor was going for a guillotine choke when he took the fight to the ground. The fight didn't feature much action outside of that and by the end, Carmont's split decision win somehow seemed off. However, there wasn't much there to make a real convincing case that this was poor judging, just a poor fight to have to judge.
The pay-per-view broadcast began with two one-sided bouts as Rafael dos Anjos and Pablo Garza gained relatively easy unanimous decision victories, defeating Mark Bocek and Mark Hominick respectively.
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