Sunday, November 18, 2012

Survival of the fittest becomes an instant classic

It isn't often a championship fight with a lot of billing lives up to the hype; however, the main event of UFC 154 between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit is one of those times. Let's just say that normally I would recap the entire card, but on this day, this fight alone is all that matters.

That is because St. Pierre (23-2, 8 KO's, 5 subs) and Condit (28-6, 13 KO's 13 subs) put on a five round classic that was one for the ages; and although St. Pierre ended up winning by scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45, the score was not indicative of the drama and excitement the fight produced. There was blood, cuts, knockdowns, takedowns and fists flying galore to satisfy the 20,000+ rabid fans in Montreal.

There was a ton of buzz leading into this fight for many reasons. There was the question surrounding the major knee injury St. Pierre was coming back from; would he not only be fit, but would he suffer any ring (cage) rust after being off nearly 19 months since his last fight? Condit himself was coming off a nine month layoff since winning the interim welterweight (170 lbs.) title against Nick Diaz; how would he perform after a lackluster performance against Diaz that fueled much criticism from critics and fans alike. Finally, would these two young stars in their prime put it on the line the way we had hoped?

Those questions were all answered and then some as soon as both fighters entered the arena. Both looked the part as they were clearly bigger and stronger than they had ever been in the past and in the best shape possible. They would need to be in that kind of shape to endure the punishment they would unleash on one another during a frenetic back and forth pace they both maintained for five full rounds.

Any questions surrounding St. Pierre's knee were quickly dismissed as he did not miss a beat with the timing surrounding his wrestling as beginning in round one he took Condit down, in a trend that would be set throughout the fight. GSP was determined not to lay and pray as he was throwing punches and elbows from the top, one in the first that busted open a gash on Condit just to the right of his eye above the brow. That would not slow Condit down though.

Although he constantly found himself underneath GSP throughout the five rounds, he was active on his back and aggressive. He tried as best as he could to unleash his own attack from the bottom, including constantly attempting to look for submission attempts. He also escaped whenever possible to get back to his feet and even the playing field.

In the third round he did just that as he caught St. Pierre, during an exchange, with a clean left round kick to the temple that knocked the reigning champion down on his back. 'The Natural Born Killer', as Condit is called, immediately pounced on his fallen opponent and had the champ in some serious trouble. However, the hometown favorite St. Pierre defended and somehow maintained his defense long enough to eventually pull a reversal and finish the second part of the round on top unleashing his own offense.

The rest of the fight was more of the same with St. Pierre continuing his beautiful wrestling takedowns throughout and Condit fighting back under the rush (pun intended) of Georges 'Rush' St. Pierre. Yet, it wasn't as lopsided as the scores would indicate and this summary would make it seem. Carlos Condit not only came to fight, but he wanted and tried to win. So much so, that the bout was given the fight of the night bonus.

Because Condit did, he gave GSP a fight that had him totally spent at the end and along the way, was able to deliver some lumps and bruises of his own. In his post fight interview, St. Pierre told Joe Rogan, "Carlos Condit is the definition of a true mixed martial artist and was the toughest opponent I've ever faced in my career." To show you how much Condit wanted to win, his response was, "That's a very nice compliment coming from a great champion like Georges, but it doesn't make this loss any easier."

When Joe Rogan asked St. Pierre what he would do next, hinting at a possible match against middleweight (185 lbs.) champion Anderson Silva, GSP diplomatically said, "I need some vacation time to relax as my focus has been solely on Carlos Condit. Then after some time, I will sit down with my trainer and entourage to discuss our next move."

Of course, Silva vs. St. Pierre is the fight everyone would love to see, but if for some reason it doesn't happen, no worries. That is because if there is one division that is not lacking for quality opponents waiting on the champ, it is welterweight. Just ask Johny 'Big Rigg' Hendricks who took just 46 seconds to dispose of Martin Kampmann in the co-main event. His post fight remark after winning his fight straight, "Please give me a shot at the belt; please give me a shot at that thing."

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