• UFC 158

GSP schools Diaz after Hendricks/Condit thriller

ESPN staff
March 17, 2013 « Rousey to coach against Tate or Zingano on next TUF | Chartbeat test »

The incomparable figure of Georges St-Pierre proved once again at UFC 158 that no amount of bullying, trash talk or aggression is enough to take away his welterweight title, after he completely outclassed Nick Diaz in Saturday's main event.

Immaculate in appearance, formidable in motion and seemingly unstoppable as a wrestler, St-Pierre provided yet more evidence that a world class mixed martial artist will almost always beat a world level fighter. Diaz had no answer to the champion in five rounds of almost one-way traffic, and the outcome was a unanimous 50-45 50-45 50-45 decision.

Diaz had done all he could to strip St-Pierre of his ice-cool complexion going into the fight, questioning the champion's courage for failing to take a fight with Anderson Silva, accusing him of being "pampered" by those around him, and even alleging that steroids formed part of his make-up.

St-Pierre has passed every drug test he has ever taken, and he has also passed just about every test he's faced in the UFC. Diaz represented GSP's eighth straight title defence, and it wasn't even close.

It took seconds for St-Pierre to land his first takedown, and he spent the entire first round pouring on ground-and-pound in what could easily have been scored a 10-8 round. Diaz tried to scrap after the bell, and more of those antics would follow.

The champion introduced his jab in round two before taking his man down again, landing elbows, knees and punches as Diaz struggled for an answer.

Round three was Diaz's best, sinking in a trademark body shot and rocking St-Pierre with a right hand, but the takedown resumed GSP's control, prompting Diaz to throw a disgusting punch way after the klaxon had sounded.

St-Pierre's cardio began to fade in the championship rounds but he still controlled the fight, timing the jab and mixing in the superman jab, pressing the action as Diaz bizarrely failed to up his own work rate. The final klaxon brought a show of grace from Diaz, who raised GSP's arm, and both men respected each other in their post-fight interviews.

"His jiu-jitsu is amazing," St-Pierre said. "He scrambles very well and I didn't have a partner to prepare me for that. I knew his boxing range is good, I used my karate to get in and out, and obviously my wrestling. I never took it (the pre-fight trash talk) personal, he was in the UFC before I got here, I'm a fan of Diaz - he's one of my favourite guys to watch."

Diaz, perhaps unsurprisingly, threatened to retire - as he has done several times in the past: "I thank Georges for the credit that I think I deserve. I have to figure out if I want to keep doing this. I'm not sure I've got it anymore," he said.

If Johny Hendricks is not the next man to fight for the welterweight title, serious questions will need to be asked after he won a Fight of the Year contender with Carlos Condit in the co-main event. Hendricks punched, wrestled and brawled his way to a one of the memorable victories in UFC history, and by the final klaxon it barely seemed to matter that he took a unanimous 29-28 decision.

The very first punch that Hendricks threw was a booming left that rocked the head of Condit, who fired back with a flying knee/jab combination. Hendricks smashed his target again but Condit has never been knocked out - countering with a front kick to the face as all-out war was declared in an epic first round.

It was more of the same in the second, with Hendricks pushing forward with left hooks and uppercuts - landing heavy each time - before finishing with takedowns. In all he landed nine takedowns in the fight, but each time Condit was highly active off his back and fired out combinations when back on his feet.

By the time the third stanza drew to a close, both men stood toe-to-toe winging punches, Condit's face bloodied but snarling while Hendricks carried a constant smile. It was entertainment of the highest level, from two fighters who showcased themselves as being from the very top drawer, and now Hendricks wants the champion.

"Carlos is tough as hell, I told you we would steal the show, Carlos you're a hell of a fighter," Hendricks said. "I knew I wasn't going to put him out. GSP, if you win tonight, I want to see you in five months. I've earned it. GSP, please."

If Hendricks' statement was big, Jake Ellenberger left perhaps an even greater impression as he drilled his way into title contention with a devastating knockout of Nate Marquardt at 3.00 of round one. Marquardt was making his UFC return after previously being booted out of the promotion for elevated testosterone levels, and his stay may prove a short one.

Ellenberger has now won eight of his last nine fights, only suffering the one defeat in that spell to Martin Kampmann after gassing himself when trying to finish. On this occasion he bided his time, coiled like a snake, and then unleashed his sensational knockout power on Marquardt, crumpling him with a booming right hook before turning out the lights with a nasty follow-up shot on the deck.

The opening fight on the main card saw England's Colin Fletcher beaten via unanimous decision by TUF 16 finalist Mike Ricci. In a largely forgettable fight, a pedestrian pace was set as neither man showed a great deal of urgency, but Ricci edged the striking and did better work on the ground in the final two rounds to earn the win.

Also on the card, in the middleweight division, Nick Ring showed little respect for Chris Camozzi's striking skills and paid the price in a split decision 29-28 28-28 29-28 defeat. Ring dropped his hands for the entire 15 minutes in an uncharacteristic display and arguably took the first two rounds, but Camozzi finished strongest in a fight that did little for either man's reputation.

UFC 158 results:

Georges St-Pierre bt Nick Diaz via unanimous decision (50-45 50-45 50-45)
Johny Hendricks bt Carlos Condit via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Jake Ellenberger bt Nate Marquardt via KO at 3.00 of Round 1
Chris Camozzi bt Nick Ring via split decision (29-28 28-29 29-28)
Mike Ricci bt Colin Fletcher via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Patrick Cote bt Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Darren Elkins bt Antonio Carvalho via TKO at 3.06 of Round 1
Jordan Mein bt Dan Miller via TKO at 4.42 of Round 1
John Makdessi bt Daron Cruickshank via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Rick Story bt Quinn Mulhern via TKO at 3.05 of Round 1
TJ Dillashaw bt Issei Tamura via KO at 0.26 of Round 2
George Roop bt Reuben Duran via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 30-27)

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