MONTREAL — Here are the big winners and big losers from Saturday’s UFC 154: St-Pierre vs. Condit.
Georges St-Pierre just picked up where he left off, didn’t he?
After his five-round domination of Carlos Condit, which featured only a couple of times throughout the 25 minutes where he was in any kind of trouble whatsoever, the longtime welterweight champion said that he knows now what “ring rust” is. If that was him with ring rust, I feel bad for the next man who steps into the cage against him (other than Anderson Silva) when he’s fresh.
Simply put, GSP solidified himself as the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history and quickly silenced all his doubters.
There were likely some who thought of the Matt Serra upset loss when GSP was knocked down by Condit from a high kick to the head in the third. But if it wasn’t clear that that loss in April 2007 was a fluke that resulted from some youthful overconfidence — and not an ingrained mental weakness or lack of will — he erased that tonight. He kept his composure, kept defending and made it through it — and in my opinion won all five rounds including that one.
Short of a finish, he could not have had a better performance Saturday. And considering how much he had to overcome for this fight, this was vintage St-Pierre.
With apologies to GSP, nobody had a bigger night than Bigg Rigg.
He erased any thought that his 12-second knockout of Jon Fitch was a fluke. This time at the 46-second mark of his co-main event fight against Martin Kampmann, he nailed the Dane with a perfect combination that sent his opponent falling limp for the Knockout of the Night.
And in case it wasn’t clear, that indeed earned him a title shot at the 170-pound belt.
“Hendricks looked damn good tonight,” White said. “It was a replica of the Jon Fitch fight. He even landed in the same place, so yes, I would say he is (the No. 1 contender).”
Whether he’ll be able to challenge for the belt anytime soon remains a question, since the plan the UFC has is for GSP to fight Silva in May. But Hendricks said he will wait as long as it takes, and trust me, with highlight-reel finishes he’s getting, the UFC will make it worth his while.
It was a good for the fighters who train full-time at Montreal’s Tristar gym. In addition to St-Pierre’s triumphant return, both John Makdessi and Ivan Menjivar had really nice wins, while Francis Carmont also had his hand raised.
Makdessi executed a tremendous gameplan as he was faster with his strikes than fellow Canadian Sam Stout and employed a beautiful counterstrike attack. He also nullified all of Stout’s takedown attempts en route to a unanimous decision win. After two straight losses in which he looked listless, he desperately needed a win to get back on track and perhaps avoid being released. He got it.
Meanwhile, Menjivar rebounded nicely after a disappointing loss to a late-replacement opponent last time out. In this one, he looked every bit the veteran against newcomer Azamat Gashimov, eventually getting a nasty armbar that earned him Submission of the Night.
“Menjivar looked great tonight,” White said.
Carmont didn’t in his fight against Tom Lawlor, which seemed to be scored for the latter by everyone except two of the judges. I expected the Montreal-based France native to run over Lawlor; however, he did manage to do enough to earn the victory, making Tristar 4-for-4 on the night.
Honourable mention: Carlos Condit. While he came up short after waiting so long for the opportunity to become undisputed champ, he can take solace in the fact that he had his moments — moreso than many who have fought St-Pierre before — and the champ said afterward he was one of his toughest opponents he’s ever faced (and we actually believe him). Condit’s stock went up, not down, even with the loss.
As much as it was a successful night for the full-time Tristar guys, it wasn’t for the part-timers, particularly the Toronto-based Mark Bocek.
He is one of the country’s best jiu-jitsu fighters and has found a lot of success in the UFC, but he seems to fall short in the big fights. Saturday against Rafael dos Anjos was an opportunity to step up and he really didn’t as he was outstruck, outwrestled and arguably outgrappled while losing all three rounds.
Alessio Sakara, Patrick Cote & Dan Miragliotta
What had the potential to be fight of the night turned into a debacle after Alessio Sakara made the bone-headed decision to try to finish Cote with illegal blows as referee Dan Miragliotta looked on seemingly oblivious to the fouls.
While Miragliotta told me and another writer afterward he warned Sakara about the blows to the back of the head, he should have intervened before it reached nine straight. The fight could have continued or been declared a no-contest, rather than end in a disqualification, and Cote wouldn’t have had to suffer such unwarranted damage.
White called the refereeing “horrible” and also suggested Sakara as a fighter should have known that what he was doing was illegal. Not only did it turn a possible win into a loss, it puts him in a precarious situation as it’s his third straight — though White said they’re looking at scheduling a rematch.
As for Cote, on top of the physical damage, it wasn’t the way he would have wanted to get back into the UFC winner’s circle, and not how the fans wanted to see the fight end. It’s nice he’ll be able to keep his job for now, but there were really no winners in this fight.
The first time the two Team Tompkins fighters, Mark Hominick and Sam Stout, have fought on the same UFC card in over six years is a night they’d like to soon forget. Both came out with really disappointing performances, which is surprising because it seemed like they had found respective head coaches that would be good for them for the first time since former trainer and friend Shawn Tompkins died last summer (Jeff Curran for Hominick and Mark DellaGrotte for Stout.)
But neither could find his range in their fights against Pablo Garza and Makdessi, respectively, and they lost one-sided decisions. That’s a fourth straight defeat for Hominick, which puts him on very shaky ground.
White said after the fight that they love guys who bring it every time, which suggests Hominick won’t be cut. But he said the same thing from the podium in the same room in Montreal about Jason MacDonald after he lost to Nate Quarry at UFC 97 in April 2009 and he was released (and after only his second straight loss.)