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St-Pierre controversially defends title against Hendricks

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Johny Hendricks was distraught when Georges St-Pierre's hand was raised in victory © Getty Images
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Georges St-Pierre successfully defended the UFC welterweight title a 10th time on Saturday and then said he was going to "go away for a little bit."

Both actions will be met, at least at first, with more questions than answers.

St-Pierre (25-2), one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history, won via split decision for the first time ever in front of a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Two judges scored the five-round title fight 48-47 in favour of the defending champion, while a third saw it 48-47 for Johny Hendricks. ESPN.com scored the bout for Hendricks, 48-47.

As a large portion of the crowd booed the decision, St-Pierre took the microphone and announced he needed to "hang up his gloves," for a bit - but when asked definitively if this would be his last fight, the Canadian champion wavered.

"There was a lot of talk about what was going to happen [after this fight]," St-Pierre said. "I have a bunch of stuff in my life happening. I need to hang up my gloves for a little bit.

"I will make a point on that a little later, but for right now, I've got to go away for a little bit."

Hendricks (15-2), who raised his arms in victory when the fight ended, challenged St-Pierre in every facet of the game. He hurt him several times with his signature left hand and scored key takedowns in the third and fourth rounds.

A former NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks collapsed when the scores were read.

"I thought I clearly won the fight," Hendricks said.

The first left hand Hendricks threw, St-Pierre took him down on. While that was a major statement for the champion, it was ultimately ineffective, as Hendricks popped immediately back up.

The first round was one of the closest of the entire fight. Hendricks continually tried to measure up the straight left, but stayed busy with jabs and hooks from the right. He attacked St-Pierre's legs with knees during lengthy clinches away from the fence.

He scored his first major moment in the second frame with a left uppercut on the inside. St-Pierre backed away and tried to reset, but his legs buckled on him and Hendricks smelled blood.

St-Pierre would recover and responded well in the third round. Hendricks scored a big takedown late in the round, but St-Pierre appeared to land the cleaner of the strikes.

Hendricks' punches, however, did more visible damage. St-Pierre started to bleed from the nose in the third round and had swelling around both eyes.

"I lost my memory a little bit during the fight," St-Pierre said. "I couldn't see. He really messed me up. He was very good at countering my game plan. He's a powerful puncher. I can tell you that."

In the fourth and fifth rounds, Hendricks made decisions that may come to haunt him. After executing a beautiful outside trip to get St-Pierre down in the fourth, he stood up and allowed him to get back to his feet.

In the fifth, he started smiling at St-Pierre and making facial expressions. St-Pierre pressured him and caught him with a straight right, which he followed with a critical takedown.

St-Pierre has now won a UFC record 19 fights in the Octagon. He extended his current win streak to 12 with the decision.

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This article originally appeared on UFC.com

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