Posts Tagged ‘Georges St-Pierre’

St-Pierre-Hendricks fight lives up to hype, St-Pierre defends title

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Johny Hendricks will take welterweight incumbent Georges St-Pierre for his belt at UFC 167 on Saturday. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Johny Hendricks will take on welterweight incumbent Georges St-Pierre for his belt at UFC 167 on Saturday. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Georges St-Pierre eked out a split decision over a very game Johny Hendricks Saturday at UFC 167 in Las Vegas. Hendricks came out strong and scored damage with his powerful combinations early on, giving GSP some real trouble during interludes on its feet. The pair matched wits with their wrestling during some tactical scrambles and clinch battles on the fence.  SI.com scored the five-round thriller for Hendricks 49-47, with R3 a even 10-10.

Official Results:

Georges St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks – Split Decision  – (48-47 H, 48-47 GSP, 48-47 GSP)

Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen – TKO (strikes) 4:05 R1 

Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald – Split Decision (29-28 L, 29-28 M, 29-28 L)

Tyrone Woodley def. Josh Koscheck — KO 4:38 R1

Ali Bagautinov def. Tim Elliott — Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Play-by-play and prelim results below:

UFC Welterweight Championship: Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks

Hendricks (15-1) has some exciting tools that can take St-Pierre out tonight. The former OSU wrestler is a two-time NCAA Div I. champion at 165 pounds, and one of the greatest competitors that legendary OSU coach and two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith said he’s had the pleasure of molding. Without much tutelage in this area, GSP’s natural talent and work ethic had made him a highly functional wrestler, but the 30-year Hendricks was at it 20 years before he even stepped into the cage. People forget that, as Hendricks is also a deadly KO machine who’s caught some top-shelf talent moving with love taps heading into his fighting prime.

The 32-year-old St-Pierre (24-2) is the longest reigning champion in the UFC welterweight division with 11 straight wins and eight consecutive title defenses on his docket. He’s highly proficient to above-average in nearly all areas and is a master, if not a slightly conservative tactician. He hasn’t lost since the Matt Serra fiasco in April 2007. Rumors have swirled this week that GSP will either retire after this bout (win or lose) or move up to middleweight to make way for protégé MacDonald (who won’t fight his mentor) to make a run for the 170-pound title. Your guess on that is as good as mine.

11:52 pm ET – We head into our main event. Here comes the hype for a big fight. This time around, it’s warranted. Hendricks is an intriguing challenger. His power punching, his stellar wrestling. GSP has his biggest challenge in quite a while. Great main event that I hope lives up to its potential.

11:55 pm ET – Lights out and challenger Hendricks snakes his way to the cage to what else? Some down-home country music. Hendricks just signed a big Reebok deal – two-years, mid six-figure, incentive-based regardless of what happens tonight, according to his management. His slogan is “Go beard or go home.”

11:58 pm ET – The champ is here and the crowd welcomes him heartily. Donning the full gi, his karate headband, GSP mean-mugs it to the cage. Looks like a man on a mission. Big ovation as he bows to the crowd and enter the Octagon. Let the butterflies ensue.

12:03 pm ET – Buffering in rare form tonight. Our referee is Mario “Stand ‘Em Up” Yamasaki. Hendricks gets pretty positive reaction; GSP can do no wrong. They meet center cage. Hendricks is grinning ear to ear. GSP has that concerned look of his. And we’re off.

R1 – St-Pierre with a measuring kick and leaps into a successful takedown out of the gate. Hendricks is locked into a guillotine, but escapes to his feet. They’re clinching and GSP goes to work with some body knees. Yamasaki separates them. Hendricks sees the TD attempt coming this time and lands an uppercut as GSP moves in. Another uppercut and GSP reacts by pushing Hendricks to fence. Still clinching, elbows from Hendricks and he moves to outside, trying now to take GSP down on fence. Hendricks gets a TD. GSP’s slightly nicked with a cut over his right eye from those close-quarter elbows. GSP wall-walks up and they separate. In clinch, hard knee from Hendricks, which backs GSP up. GSP with high kick that Hendricks partly defends. Another clinch and Hendricks barreling GSP’s thighs with knees. They separate again. :30 to go. Hendricks pumps a left twice and GSP backs out of range. Stellar first round. Hendricks 10-9

R2 – GSP trying to find range with kicks. Hendricks coming in with combos and backing him up. His left is pretty close each time. That left. Hendricks connects with uppercut, then another, GSP flustered, wobbling, in trouble. GSP clinches with Hendricks in a little bit of desperation. Then, referee Yamasaki separates them for no reason. Re-start and Hendricks is right back in with lefts. Hendricks drops levels and has GSP’s legs on fence, but no TD. GSP’s face reddening. Back to center cage. GSP fights back with a left hook, then another. Hendricks in again with uppercut and knee that just misses. GSP lands left hook, then a left superman punch. Right hook by Hendricks. Every time Hendricks moves in, GSP is affected. GSP lands the left on Hendricks, then a jab. Hendricks registers that they’re good hits with a head nod. GSP head kick lands but it’s soft. Hendricks looks loose, but a little tired. Hendricks in with two uppercuts, backing GSP out. It’s a dogfight, folks. GSP ducks Hendricks punch that GSP turns into clinch. Trade of knees to thighs and bell .Very close round. I have it even 10-10. Judges will be split on this one, no doubt.

R3 – Hendricks with right. GSP with low kick. Hendricks in with body knee. GSP left over top. Hendricks dodges a GSP combo. Hendricks pumps jab once; he’s starting to slow down a little bit. GSP is breathing heavy, but coming on a little stronger now. GSP with tagging left. Hendricks still coming in, but his punches aren’t as crisp. He’s lowering his head, too, as he lunges. Not a good sign. GSP right. Hendricks left hook. 2:10 to go. GSP has found range and starting to avoid Hendricks’ attacks. Hendricks jab. St. Pierre is starting to land more. Single punch exchanges now. Hendricks shoots, pushes GSP to fence. Completes TD and crowd explodes. Hendricks in GSP’s guard. 0:15 to go. GSP to his feet right at bell. GSP 10-9

R4 – Championship rounds, folks. Pawing until GSP throws a straight and Hendricks counters with a combo, uppercut included. It mostly misses. He’s headhunting, but seems to have some snap back. Hendricks grabs at the back of GSP’s neck and he falls to his back trying to back-pedal. Hendricks in GSP’s guard, pulling him to fence. Hendricks backs out and lets him stand (!) GSP’s face is now busted up, bleeding. Hendricks lands an uppercut. 2:00 to go. Hendricks with a right-right-left uppercut. Uppercut lands. GSP pushes Hendricks to fence for a shoot. Hendricks stuffs it and turns GSP around against fence. A battle for the TD. GSP fighting all the way and he reverses. Hendricks against fence, then another reverse. Hendricks on outside. Lands a knee. Nothing major. Bell. Hendricks 10-9

R5 – GSP cut under both eyes, but bleeding has been stopped during rounds. Hendricks starts round bobbing is head, singing to himself. Cool as a cucumber. They clinch quick and Hendricks is on one leg, the other entwined between GSP’s legs. He manages to stay standing. What balance. Both to fence, but they separate quick. Big right by GSP and he takes Hendricks down. This is huge. Hendricks nearly sneaks out, but is stopped on his knees. Hendricks on his feet, crouched, then pushes to standing, back to fence. Fight for control and TD. Hendricks reverses GSP. He looks stronger. Much more composed. GSP’s face is bloody again. 1:50 to go. Referee Yamasaki separates them. GSP with front teep kick. Another kick to side of Hendricks body. GSP has to know it’s oh-so close. Chants of “GSP.” 1:05 to go and GSP shoots for a single-leg. Fights to take him down. Completes it but Hendricks is back up fast and GSP can’t capitalize. Hendricks has GSP against fence, leaning in with his body weight. GSP goes for a weak Kimura, but he doesn’t have position. Hendricks 10-9/49-47

Official Result: Georges St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks – Split Decision  – (48-47 H, 48-47 GSP, 48-47 GSP)

St. Pierre: “I couldn’t see out of one eye. He really messed me up. I need a vacation.”

And here’s our big bombshell from GSP: “I have to hang up my gloves for a bit. I have to step away, at least for a bit. I have some personal things to take care of. I have to go away [for] a little bit.” Rogan presses him to clarify but GSP just keeps saying he has to go away for a “little bit.”

Hendricks says he thought he won the bout, but GSP is a great guy. Hendricks: “He didn’t land anything strong on me.” Crowd boos with his comments. Hendricks is noticeably upset and for good reason. People believe he won and GSP’s “exit” is strange. We’re not sure what it means.

Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Rashad Evans

What can we say about Chael Sonnen? The man with the mighty mouth is a cat with nine lives in MMA. After collecting back-to-back losses to champions Anderson Silva (July 2012) and Jon Jones (April), the one-time Olympic wrestling alternate resurrected his perpetual career with a rousing win over fading former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Sonnen (29-13-1) could have his hands full with Evans…

… if former UFC titleholder Evans (19-3-1) avoids Sonnen’s grinding wrestling and gets some of his old mojo going again. The man who iced Chuck Liddell and outboxed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has been missing of late. Evans’ last victory over Dan Henderson was a conservative one. When Evans is on and feeling loose, he’s light on his feet, ready for a shootout or a grappling battle and is a lot of fun to watch.

11:30 pm ET – We get a retrospective featuring UFC majority owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, UFC President Dana White and others. The images are moving; the words not so much.

11:35 pm ET – Sonnen is on his way to the cage to a country twang. His shirt says “RESPECT IS EARNED.” Lights out and Evans struts in next, looking very serious; eyeballing the Octagon. He better be serious tonight. He needs this win. Buffer with the intros; Sonnen gets a warm reception. Evans welcome is mixed. Our referee is Herb Dean.

R1 – Sonnen takes center cage immediately, then shoots. Evans pushed to fence and it’s a Greco Roman match quickly, a fight for underhooks and position. Evans on outside and tries to TD, but Sonnen stops. Still in clinch on fence, Sonnen trying to knee, Evans answering with body shots. Evans separates slightly and lands a right. More underhook pummeling. Evans gets a double-leg on fence. Evans has half guard. Sonnen is cradled on fence. Evans posts to knee and land a few shots. Sonnen is trapped but not in imminent danger – yet. Evans lands an elbow and Sonnen flips to his stomach, then again to his back. Evans to full mount, then takes Sonnen’s back. Evans wails away and finishes Sonnen who looks like the life was sucked out of him.

Official Result: Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen – TKO (strikes) 4:05 R1

Solid performance for Evans. Very poor performance for Sonnen. Pretty anti-climatic without Sonnen putting up much of a fight once it hit the ground and Evans landed the fight-turning elbow. You have to think all of Sonnen’s extra-curricular commentating (which is fantastic work!) just doesn’t allow him enough time to train. I’d much rather Sonnen retire, so he can concentrate on his true calling in this sport.

 Welterweight: Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler

GSP protégé MacDonald (15-1) is on a five-fight win streak, with some impressive names on his mantel, B.J. Penn (December) and Jake Ellenberger (July) included. Both were decisions, and I’m figuring UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is pairing him against the all-out Lawler to kick the-24-year-old Canadian’s career into high gear for a title run.

The 31-year-old Lawler is a real crowd-pleaser: a decent wrestler turned dangerous boxer who could care less if the fight hits the ground. Lawler starched Koscheck in the first round at his UFC return in February and followed up that explosive win with a head-kick KO of the less foreboding Bobby Voelker. MacDonald is not particularly popular outside the Canadian contingent, so you’ve got to think that there’s a healthy part of the crowd itching for another Lawler special.

10:56 – Lawler enters, a small grin on his face. Very calm. This dude loves to scrap. MacDonald follows, getting a surprisingly strong pop from the crowd. Buffer with the intros and Lawler is shaking his head like he was born to do this. MacDonald looks confident, hands on waist. Mario Yamasaki is our ref.

R1 – Lawler with two hard front-leg kicks. High left kick attempt. Crowd chants “Rory” off the bat. MacDonald with a low kick.  Lawler moving in, missing by inches with haymakers. Lawler lands with front leg kick again. Lawler blocks a right body kick from Mac. Trade of body kicks that don’t land. Kick-o-rama. Pensive pace – both looking for a big hit. 2:00 to go. Lawler with body kick. Mac isn’t checking much. Lawler misses with another haymaker. Crowd getting a little restless.  Mac lands weak teep kick. More Lawler body kicks. Not much to write home about.  “Rory” chants start again. Crowd wants something big; neither fighter has yet to deliver. Lawler with Head kick; Mac grabs his leg, but can’t do anything to capitalize at bell. Lawler 10-9

R2 – Lawler with body kick out of gate and MacDonald takes his first shot. Lawler on one leg, hops back and escapes. Impressive balance. This is not the fight people expected. Slow. Plodding. Headhunting. Lawler with right kick; follow up with right body kick. Lawler is winning on volume. Lawler with head movement, blocking MacDonald right. MacDonald drops levels fast and secures a TD on fence; trying to pass guard. MacDonald to his feet, allows Lawler to backdoor out, but Mac stalls Lawler on his knees, holding onto his head. MacDonald trying to maneuver to Lawler’s back, but Lawler gets guard and is actually landing hard shots from his back. MacDonald posts to his knees and tries to elbow. Misses and bell. MacDonald 10-9 takes this one with TD and ground control.

R3 – Lawler tags with a right, then an uppercut. Lawler kicks, MacDonald catches his leg and gets a TD. Mac in Lawler’s guard. Stand-up. Lawler with a left and Mac shoots; scramble to ground and Lawler takes top, trying to unload some ground-and-pound, It settles with Mac on his back; Lawler in his guard. Re-stand and Mac is bleeding bad from his nose. Lawler with a left. An eye poke  with Lawler right and ref stops it to check on Mac. Re-start. Mac grabs Lawler leg kick; Lawler defends again beautifully. Lawler drops Mac with left uppercut, tries to finish with follow-ups. Lawler into side control. 1:40 to go. Lawler has this if ref doesn’t stupidly re-stand. Mac recovers guard, but Lawler is swinging to finish. Lawler trying to pass to mount and Mac stops him. Mac goes for an armbar. Back to his feet; Mac looking wobbly. Lawler with right and Mac answer with a TD to half. Mac trying to finish, but Lawler mostly defends. It was a 10-8 round before Mac went for the all-or-nothing finish. Lawler 10-9/29-28

Official Result: Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald – Split Decision (29-28 L, 29-28 M, 29-28 L)

Lawler and MacDonald arm-in-arm after fight. Lawler can’t stop smiling. He doesn’t have a graze on him. Lawler makes UFC rankings at #10. No argument here. He is on the rise, for sure.

Welterweight: Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

Koscheck (19-7) has been on the downslide with two consecutive losses in the Octagon to tonight’s main eventer Hendricks (May 2012) and Robbie Lawler (February), who we’ll see later during the night. Lawler starched the 2001 NCAA Div. I wrestling champ with his trademark power punching. Unfortunately for Kos, Woodley possesses the same potential to stop him with his hands – if he lets them go.

In addition, “T-Wood” has enough collegiate wrestling skills to keep up with Kos. However, Woodley (11-2) is still finding his legs in the division and is 1-1 since joining the UFC ranks, with a scary 36-second KO over Jay Hieron in February (Yes!) and a tepid split decision loss to Jake Shields in May (Meh).

Big ramifications for both in this bout – the UFC’s welterweight division is always close quarters and any given guy is one or two losses away from the exit door. Another interesting side story must be Kos praying Hendricks gets the job done tonight; Kos has lost twice to GSP (one being a title bout) soundly, and it’s a tough, tough climb back to the top in this situation.

10:41 pm ET – “T-Wood” enters to some rap. He looks like he’s put on some more muscle; he’s huge. Koscheck struts in afterward to a mixed response. Fans never forget TUF 1. Herb Dean is our referee.

R1 – Woodley connects right away with an overhand, then barrels in with knees. Koscheck is wobbled a little to cage and touches his hand to canvas to stop the knee attack. It becomes a wrestling battle on the fence quick and stalls. Boos and referee Dean re-starts it center. Kos looks composed again. Wood lands another right and a kick, but Kos counters with a kick that backs Wood up. Wood with a barrage of rights that sends Kos to the canvas, head banging on ground. Koscheck takes some follow-up leather, but recovers enough to grab onto Wood’s body for his dear life. Wood is in Kos’ guard, pulls him to fence. Ref Dean with a questionable re-start. Kos is bleeding from his left ear; face swelling. Woodley with a huge counter right and another as Kos goes down; follow-up punches, but Kos’ hands are at his sides and it’s over.

Official Result: Tyrone Woodley def. Josh Koscheck — KO 4:38 R1

Woodley had Koscheck’s number from the get-go, giving the TUF vet an uphill battle he eventually lost. Great win for Woodley, who’ll stick around for a bit longer. Koscheck’s future is less certain with three losses in a row.

Flyweight: Ali Bagautinov vs. Tim Elliott

Dagestan’s Bagautinov (11-2) is a mixed bag of talent, with both a Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling background and a gold medal in Combat Sambo (2012). On top of that, Bagautinov took out his last opponent, Marcus Vinicius, with punches in his Octagon debut in September.

Elliott (10-3-1) rides in on two unanimous decision victories over Jared Papazian (December) and Louis Gaudinot (August). Both are making their first appearances on a UFC main card, on its 20th anniversary card, no less. That should speak volumes as to what UFC brass expects from them.

R1 - Bag gets the best of the feel-out exchanges, just missing with an uppercut. Elliott is the pursuer, until Bag clinches at 3:45. They separate quickly.  More circling. Elliott shoots; no go.  Bag with a punch, knee; Elliott is hurt and tries to grab a single-leg. Bag won’t have it and Elliott re-sets again. More circling. Bag gets a takedown. Elliott springs to his feet, pushing forward with swings that aren’t close. 1:00 to go. Bag is clearly the more skilled striker. He ties up the round with a clinch on the cage, then a right and a knee that lands and sends Elliott to his back as the bell sound. Bag 10-9

R2 – Bag with TD right into an Elliott guillotine. It’s a close one, but Bag escapes is out and now on his back, Elliott in his guard. (Stats say Elliott has landed 40 strikes to Bag 26, but Bag’s are much more effective.) Bag escapes and it’s back to its feet, Elliott center-canvas and stalking. Elliott with inside kick, but not much else being thrown. Bag lands a right; Elliott shoots and it’s a wild scramble with Bag on top, but then to his feet quick. Bell. Bag 10-9 for more effective striking, but nice try on Elliott’s guillotine attempt.

R3 – Elliott is chasing, but Bag lands a body kick, then another at 3:30.  Elliott with a left that lands, but the punch has no heat. Bag swings and misses again.  Bag connects with two right overhands. This punch is working for him, so he’s keeps at it. The pace isn’t that fast. 1:30 to go. Elliott is another shot that Bag easily thwarts. Another Bag right. 1:00 to go. Elliott stuffs Bag TD.  He has to find a fight-ending punch. Bag lands a hard combo and Elliott slams Bag at bell but too little too late. Bag 10-9/30-27 

Official Result: Ali Bagautinov def. Tim Elliott — Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

10:36 pm ET — UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn in the house. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also made it to the show tonight — he’s a huge martial arts fan with the Arnold Classic hosting many disciplines in Columbus, Ohio every year.

Here’s  your prelim results:

  • Donald Cerrone def. Evan Dunham – Submission (Triangle Choke) 3:49 R2 – Cerrone was on fire tonight, had Dunham in trouble early with a knee. He continued his dominance into round two, going for and nearly found an oma plata before finishing it with an inescapable triangle choke he maneuvered off the fence. Dunham had nothing for him.
  • Thales Leites def. Ed Herman  – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – Leites scored early in each set with takedowns and fished for finishes against a mostly-defending Herman.
  • Rick Story def. Brian Ebersole – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – Story lit Ebersole up a few times on its feet and looked very sharp. Of course, Story has faced much stiffer competition in the past, so take it with a grain of salt.
  • Erik Perez def. Edwin Figueroa – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – evenly matched, but not particularly compelling bout.
  • Jason High def. Anthony Lapsley – Unanimous Decision (29-28 all)
  • Sergio Pettis def. Will Campuzano – Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)  – decent UFC debut for the younger brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
  • Gian Villante def. Cody Donovan – TKO (punches) 1:22 R2

                                                                                                                                                                              —  Loretta Hunt


  • Published On Nov 16, 2013
  • With Anthony Pettis injured, José Aldo will defend UFC belt vs. Chan Sung Jung

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    Jung, known as the "Korean Zombie," will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

    Jung, known as the “Korean Zombie,” will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

    You win some, you lose some.

    Title bouts, that is.

    On Thursday afternoon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as he was hyping a UFC 161 card (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, PPV) that has zero championship fights on it, promotion president Dana White captured the full attention of the assembled media by announcing the next title defenses for his heavyweight, light heavyweight and welterweight champs. Three belts, up for grabs.

    Then, on Friday, White unveiled still another tussle for a brass-and-leather strap. But this time, the news, which was released via Twitter, was not so welcome. Well, unless you’re a zombie from East Asia.

    Anthony Pettis, the lightweight contender who dropped down to featherweight in order to challenge José Aldo, injured a knee in training and is out of the Aug. 3 title fight in Rio de Janeiro. According to White, he’ll be replaced in the UFC 163 main event by Chan Sung Jung.

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  • Published On Jun 15, 2013
  • Rousey-Tate surprise signals troubling, drama-heavy trend in UFC title bouts

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    This was Ronda Rousey's demeanor before fighting Miesha Tate. Now she'll be living with her on a TV show. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    This was Ronda Rousey’s face before fighting Miesha Tate. Now the two will live together. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    The key word in the term “reality television” is not “reality” but “television.” Entertainment, or at least the promise of it, is what counts. If that means you must stretch the reality part a wee bit to pull in viewers, so be it.

    Within that context, the UFC and Fox didn’t simply rescue, but in fact spiced up The Ultimate Fighter on Tuesday. Season 18 of the show, which will air beginning Sept. 4 on the new Fox Sports 1 cable channel, was to feature women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey coaching against unbeaten Cat Zingano. The first female coaches in the show’s history would be working with teams composed, for the first time, of both men and women. It’s groundbreaking in a multitude of ways.

    Add to that some new made-for-TV drama. Zingano injured her right knee two weeks ago and had to drop out of the show, according to the UFC, which kept that information a secret until taping began on Tuesday. So when Rousey showed up in the promotion’s Las Vegas gym and the cameras rolled, she came face to face with her bitter nemesis, former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate. Surprise, surprise.

    “For those of you who don’t know, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate don’t like each other at all,” UFC president Dana White said in a Fox video. “They have been battling, verbally and physically, for years. Now they are going to be living together here for six weeks.”

    And afterward, they will fight — which is where this gets sticky if you care at all about the worthiness of title bouts.

    When Rousey puts her belt on the line against Tate sometime in the fall, she will be the fourth UFC champion this year to defend against an opponent coming off a loss. Tate, who had her Strikeforce title dislodged and her elbow dislocated by a Rousey armbar when they first met last year, was on the verge of earning a rematch after winning the first two rounds of a No. 1 challenger showdown with Zingano in April. But “Alpha Cat” turned the tide in Round 3, blasting Tate with knees to the face until the fight was stopped with just over two minutes remaining. Apparently the TKO loss was good enough to earn Miesha another shot at Ronda.

    Something has shifted in UFC matchmaking. José Aldo defended his featherweight championship in February against a man coming off two straight losses. Sure, Frankie Edgar is a former lightweight champ whose two prior defeats came in close title fights at that higher weight. But still. What about Georges St-Pierre, who put his welterweight strap on the line in March against Nick Diaz, who was coming off a loss and a year-long drug suspension? Just last month, Jon Jones defended the light heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen, who was coming off a knockout defeat and had not fought at 205 pounds in seven years. What a tangled web the UFC has weaved.

    Now, it’s not like this hadn’t ever happened before 2013. But generally — though not always — it’s either been a championship fight loser being granted a rematch or someone getting an unforeseen shot at a title because of a champion’s retirement, failed drug test or some other extenuating circumstance.

    GALLERY: Classic photos of Ronda Rousey

    One might view Rousey vs. Tate II as the product of extenuating circumstances. Losing a coach two weeks before your high-profile reality show begins taping calls for desperate measures. And what were the UFC’s options? Sarah Kaufman is ranked higher than Tate, and is also an ex-Strikeforce champ, but she lasted less than a minute against Ronda last August. There’s also Liz Carmouche, who was scheduled to fight Miesha in July … and who did better than either Tate or Kaufman against Rousey, nearly submitting the champ early before succumbing to — what else? — an armbar in the final seconds of the first round. But that February bout, the first women’s fight in UFC history, was the most recent on the resumes of both Ronda and Liz. “Girl-Rilla” needs to wait a while for another title try.

    An intriguing possibility for Rousey would have been fellow Olympian — and fellow groundbreaker — Sara McMann. Whereas Ronda became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo when she took bronze in Beijing in 2008, McMann became the first female American silver medalist in wrestling four years later in Athens. But while both also share a 7-0 record, Sara has been building her MMA career more steadily than the meteoric champ has. McMann dominated Sheila Gaff in her UFC debut last month, and the promotion apparently believes she needs more seasoning before it can serve up an Olympian vs. Olympian clash.

    In the end, the UFC has eschewed new blood for bad blood.

    Rousey is all for it — after getting over her initial shock. Yahoo! Sports’s Kevin Iole, who was at the UFC gym, wrote that Ronda “was clearly stunned” when she spotted Tate, and stormed out in search of White. When she emerged back under the bright lights, Rousey was in full TV publicist mode. “This is what we really wanted all along,” she told Iole. “Everyone said an Ultimate Fighter between me and Miesha would be the best. We have a personal history with each other, and this is a personal show. For some reason, me and Miesha are intertwined in fate like Ali and Frazier or something like that.”

    — Jeff Wagenheim


  • Published On May 29, 2013
  • With no evidence, Nick Diaz accuses Georges St-Pierre of steroid use

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    Things got testy during Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre's weigh-in for UFC 158. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

    Things got testy during Nick Diaz (right) and Georges St-Pierre’s weigh-in for UFC 158. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

    MONTREAL — Saturday night will merely be an encore. Whatever Nick Diaz does in his fight with Georges St-Pierre will only add to the theater of the absurd he’s provided all week in the leadup to UFC 158.

    On Wednesday, Nick neglected to show up for the open workouts the fight promotion schedules prior to its events to get fans up close and personal with the athletes, and his absence overshadowed all of the fighters who bothered to be there.

    On Thursday, he livened up a monotonous pre-fight press conference at the Bell Centre by spewing more of the incomprehensible babble we’ve been hearing from him ever since the St-Pierre fight was announced. And by baiting the welterweight champion into a repeat performance of the acrimonious exchange they had last week during a conference call with members of the media.

    On Friday, Diaz jutted a sharp elbow toward GSP as they squared off after weighing in, prompting UFC president Dana White to jump into harm’s way to ensure the fighters didn’t get physical until it was time to get physical in front of a paying audience.

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  • Published On Mar 16, 2013
  • Predictions for UFC 158: Georges St.-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz

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    Georges St.-Pierre (left) will face Nick Diaz, while Carlos Condit (right) will fight Johny Hendricks. (Getty Images)

    SI.com’s Jeff Wagenheim provides his predictions for UFC 158, which will be held on Saturday in Montreal.

    Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz

    Weeks of rancorous buildup will reach a crescendo of hometown exhilaration when GSP walks to the octagon in front of his adoring public. Then St-Pierre will tune it all out and quietly go about his business. Forget the uncharacteristic fury we’ve seen from Georges of late. Diaz trash-talks a good game and has dragged lesser men into his torture chamber, but once the cage door closes, GSP is done with that nonsense. He’ll methodically slow Nick’s forward-moving stalking with jabs and kicks, and when he’s ready he’ll put the challenger on his back and spend the rest of the 25 minutes beating his head into the canvas. Unless Diaz is too bloodied and battered to make it to the finish line. St-Pierre by decision.

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  • Published On Mar 14, 2013
  • Source: UFC talking to Anderson Silva about more than one superfight

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    Anderson Silva

    UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has two bouts left on his existing UFC contract, and both could be superfights. [Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire]

    Three weeks ago, Georges St-Pierre returned from a 19-month absence and showed himself to be fully recovered from knee surgery with a gritty victory over Carlos Condit. Anderson Silva was cageside in Montreal that night to watch it all unfold … and to let it be known that he was interested in fighting the UFC welterweight champion.

    Prior to that, however, when there was talk of the middleweight king taking on another belt holder, the speculation usually centered on the possibility of Silva stepping into the cage with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.

    So which superfight are we going to see?

    Well, how about both?

    A reliable source has told SI.com that Silva had a meeting scheduled with UFC president Dana White on Wednesday night to discuss superfights. Yes, that’s superfights, plural.

    Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, confirmed that a meeting took place but would not say what was discussed. He would only reveal that “Anderson got a beautiful Bentley.”

    That’s the same make of vehicle that was driven by Jones before the then-24-year-old wrecked it in a drunken crash in May.

    Jones and Silva have said they would not fight, citing their friendship as well as concerns that they would be putting their legacies and endorsement deals at risk. But White has talked of staging a superfight in 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas, which would make the bout a huge moneymaker for the UFC, with appropriately hefty fighter purses.

    Might the gift of a Bentley be the first step in paving the way for the superfight of all superfights, with the UFC ensuring that Silva and family keep up with the Joneses?

    – Jeff Wagenheim


  • Published On Dec 06, 2012
  • Anderson Silva eager for superfight with Georges St-Pierre

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    Anderson Silva

    UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has two bouts left on his existing UFC contract, and both could be superfights. [Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE]

    MONTREAL — So now we all know what it’s like to be in a cage with Anderson Silva. Minus the pain, of course.

    On Saturday night, we did get the confusion, a good dose of it, stemming from the UFC middleweight champion’s uncanny elusiveness. He’s right there in front of you, then in a flash he’s gone without a trace, then he’s back, acting as if he’d never left.

    Silva showed up at the Bell Centre prior to the start of UFC 154 and told an assemblage of media that, despite what’s been reported over the past week, he’s gung-ho to make his next bout a superfight with Georges St-Pierre.

    “I’m very excited for this fight with Georges,” he said. “Maybe here, maybe in a big stadium in Brazil.” He said this around 10 minutes into his questioning by reporters, after beginning the session by addressing a query on the possibility of a GSP superfight with “Maybe, I don’t know.”

    Elusiveness. Confusion.

    Adding to the mystification was the fact that St-Pierre first had to take care of business in his welterweight title defense against Carlos Condit later in the evening in the main event.

    But “The Spider” had that one all figured out. “My opinion, Georges wins tonight,” he said matter of factly.

    So, assuming he was right, when might a Silva vs. St-Pierre superfight take place? Perhaps in May, when UFC president Dana White has suggested? “I need to check my schedule,” said Silva, drawing laughter from the assembled media.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2012
  • Digging into the Quebec roots of UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre

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    Georges St-Pierre

    Georges St-Pierre returns to his native Canada to fight Carlos Condit at UFC 154. (Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

    ST-REMI, Quebec — Sitting in a restaurant in northern Vermont enjoying a nice lunch and a much-needed break from my hours-long drive to Montreal, it occurred to me that a little further along my route I would be passing through the area where Georges St-Pierre grew up. The UFC welterweight champion is often referred to as a Montreal fighter, and the crowd at the Bell Centre will surely make him feel like one when he’s introduced before his title defense against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 154 on Saturday night. But GSP is no city boy. He actually hails from the vast Quebec countryside tucked between the St. Lawrence River and the U.S. border.

    Pulling the smart phone out of my pocket while I waited for dessert to arrive — you’re allowed to have a little something sweet in the middle of the day, unless you’re trying to make weight for a UFC fight or something — I quickly scanned some online articles about St-Pierre’s youth and came upon one about a recent visit he paid to his old high school in Saint-Rémi, Quebec. Hmm, I thought, if it’s not too far out of the way …

    And then, yup, to locate the land of GSP, I used my GPS.

    I’m not sure what I expected to see when I pulled into Saint-Rémi, a tiny city of around 7,000 tucked into a landscape of farmland, small industry and windmills, lots of windmills, in southwestern Quebec. I guess I envisioned “Go GSP” window signs in storefronts, maybe even a banner strung across a downtown street proclaiming “Home of Georges St-Pierre.”

    There was nothing, though, no visible acknowledgement that one of the greatest mixed martial arts of all time — a three-time Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year — spent his formative years here.

    I saw a bunch of guys gathered outside an apartment building down the block from École Pierre-Bédard, where GSP returned not long ago to talk to students about his school chin-ups record, which still stands, and the bullying he went through while in school. I wondered whether any of these men on the apartment building stoop were the ones who’d pushed GSP around back in the day. I decided not to bother them.

    Right across from the school I saw an elementary-grade kid walking with his book bag and, imagining him to be of the age where he might have a GSP poster on his bedroom wall, considered pulling over and talking to him. But then I thought better of being that guy who pulls his car to the side of the road and rolls his window down to talk to a school kid.

    I ended up at a convenience store in the center of town. As I walked up to the cash register with my bottled water, I noticed that among the staff gathered was a young man with a buzz cut, wearing a black T-shirt with some combative-looking logo across the front. He looked like what half of the Bell Centre crowd will look like on Saturday night. He’s my man, I thought.

    “I understand I am in the home of GSP,” I sid to the woman behind the counter as I fumbled through my Canadian coins to pay for my water. She stared at me blankly. It turned out, as I learned when I look it up on my iPhone upon returning to my car, that 96 percent of the Saint-Rémi population speaks only French. The young woman took my money and gestured toward the black T-shirt guy, who it turns out is among the community’s bilinguals.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 154

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    Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (left) is favored to defeat Carlos Condit (right) despite a 19-month layoff that included knee surgery. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    SI.com analysts Dave Doyle, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 154 on Saturday in Montreal.

    Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit

    DOYLE: If you go up and down the lists of plusses and minuses with these two fighters, the only thing in Condit’s favor is St-Pierre’s potential ring rust. That doesn’t bode well for your chances against someone like GSP, who has something to prove in his hometown. St-Pierre by TKO.

    HUNT: St-Pierre is such a technician, analyzing opponents the way a statistician pores data. Condit could be the toughest first fight back ever — he’s an unpredictable striker with the killer instinct — but St. Pierre has adjusted his schedule to minimize ring rust and knows his key will be superior wrestling. St-Pierre by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Has GSP’s fighting spirit been rusted over during his 19-month absence from the octagon, or will it come bursting out of him like dammed river water? I suspect the latter, and that it will be further fueled by an enthousiaste Montreal crowd. Condit is coming off a fight in which he fended off bullying with movement and counterstrikes. But that bully knew only a straight-ahead path to his prey, making him easy to retaliate against. St-Pierre, by contrast, comes at you in innumerable ways, making every Condit counter susceptible to being countered. Sooner or later, the champion will seize control, and when he swarms he won’t stop until he’s pulled away by the man in the black shirt. St-Pierre by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: It’s been a long layoff for St-Pierre and Condit’s a fighter that’s easy to root for. But realistically how do you pick against GSP? It will be interesting to see how his knee holds up, but he’s such a versatile fighter it’s hard to see an upset. St-Pierre by decision.

    Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks

    DOYLE: The head says to go with Hendricks, who has made steady progression toward the top. Kampmann has shown as much heart as anyone in the UFC with his comeback wins. My gut tells me this will be a thriller. Kampmann by submission.

    HUNT: OSU wrestling ace Hendricks is on a roll and has some stinging hands to boot. Though arguably more well-rounded, Kampmann is just too hit or miss. Hendricks by KO.

    WAGENHEIM: The 13-1 Hendricks has two split decisions among his last three victories, and the other win was a 12-second flash KO. He hasn’t dominated anyone over three rounds for a while, and that is what he’s being asked to do against the slicker-striking Dane. Kampmann by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Kampmann is an admirable veteran with one of the great hearts in UFC history, but Hendricks’ wrestling superiority will be the difference. The former Oklahoma State star scores a ground-based verdict. Hendricks by decision.
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  • Published On Nov 15, 2012
  • UFC’s White: Cowboys Stadium could host superfight between GSP, Silva

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    Georges St-Pierre

    Georges St-Pierre (left) is returning to the cage for the first time in 20 months. [Al Bello/ Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

    “We missed him,” said Dana White, the words spoken with a hint of longing. “It’s good to have him back.”

    The UFC president was speaking of his company’s most lucrative pay-per-view draw, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is indeed back after 20 months away from the octagon because of knee surgery and the rehab that followed. White was so thrilled that GSP is ready to fight again, in fact, that he assembled MMA reporters on Wednesday afternoon to hype the superfight between St-Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

    No, wait, the media conference call was actually about Georges’ bout against interim champion Carlos Condit a week from Saturday in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal. At least that’s what the press release said the call was going to be about.

    As things turned out, though, the session came as close to being an announcement of GSP vs. Silva as the fight promotion could muster without issuing an official poster.

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  • Published On Nov 07, 2012


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