MONTREAL, March 16 – On any other card, the UFC 158 co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit at Bell Centre would have been a main event. On this night, the two welterweight contenders fought like it, with Hendricks squeezing out a close, but unanimous, three round decision win in an epic bout that cemented Hendricks’ claim to the number one contender’s spot in the 170-pound weight class and also secured Condit’s place as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.
Scores were 29-28 for Hendricks, who ups his record to 15-1; Condit falls to 28-7.
Hendricks went on the attack with his left hand from the opening bell, chasing Condit across the cage and throwing punches. Condit avoided danger, but did wind up with a bruise around the right eye before getting thrown to the canvas. Hendricks backed off in order for Condit to get back to his feet, and then it was Condit’s turn to go on the attack. Soon thereafter, the fight strayed to the mat, with Hendricks on top but Condit staying busy from his back. Midway through the round, the two rose, Condit staying in the pocket and chipping away with leg kicks and Hendricks swinging wildly before getting another takedown. Condit defended well on the mat, allowing himself to get upright again, While standing, Condit got off a nice knee, but Hendricks fired back. In a scramble, Condit got Hendricks’ back briefly, and a late standup exchange saw Condit finish strong as the crowd roared.
The wild back and forth action continued right into the second round, but it was Hendricks who was able to slow things down to a manageable pace with a takedown in the opening minute. Condit refused to stay grounded for long, and while he got his shots off, Hendricks did too, tagging him with a few left hands before following up with another takedown. This time when Condit rose he used knees to break Hendricks’ grip, but the “Bigg Rigg” wouldn’t be rattled, scoring a third takedown right after eating another knee to the head. The pattern of Condit getting taken down, rising, getting off some punches, and then getting taken down again played out one more time before the bell, and there was still five minutes to go in the action-packed scrap.
Hendricks grounded Condit to start the final frame, and for the first time he was able to keep him there for any length of time. That doesn’t mean Condit stopped working, as he threw punches until finding his way out. From there, he went on the attack, but Hendricks tied up again, knowing that takedowns were his key to victory. Condit was the busier of the two on the mat, leading Hendricks to let him up. Bad move, as Condit tagged him with a hard right hand that jarred the Texan momentarily. Hendricks’ response was a takedown, and Condit searched for a submission before getting up and unleashing hard strikes from his fists and feet. Hendricks was able to get the takedown, which was becoming more of a defense mechanism than anything else at this point, but as the bell rang, there was no question that these two welterweights had shown the best the sport of mixed martial arts has to offer.
ELLENBERGER vs. MARQUARDT
In the first big welterweight matchup of the main card, Jake Ellenberger made an emphatic statement, knocking out Nate Marquardt in the first round to live up to his “Juggernaut” nickname.
There was solid standup action from both fighters in the early going, with Marquardt going on the attack, first with leg kicks, and then with combinations upstairs. Ellenberger took his time getting on track, but once he was in his rhythm, he found his opening and pounced, nailing Marquardt with a flush right hand that sent the former Strikeforce champion to the mat and searching for a takedown. Ellenberger wouldn’t give it to him though, landing two more right hands that sent Marquardt face first to the canvas, prompting referee Philippe Chartier to stop the fight three minutes into the round.
With the win, Ellenberger improves to 29-6; Marquardt falls to 35-12-2.
Watch Ellenberger's post-fight interview
CAMOZZI vs. RING
Chris Camozzi scored the biggest win of his career, earning his fourth straight victory in his main card debut, taking a close split decision over Nick Ring in a grueling middleweight contest.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Camozzi, now 19-5; Ring falls to 13-2.
Ring was frequently frustrated in his attempts to close the distance on Camozzi in the opening round, but he still stayed busy with his fists and feet. Camozzi was the more effective of the two southpaws though, tagging the Canadian with aggressive flurries and also while laying back and countering.
Using lateral movement and pot shots, Ring had a better second round, but soon fatigue reared its ugly head, allowing Camozzi to get in his share of punches as well, with the result being that both men went back to the corner either bloodied or bruised up.
The third was almost too close to call, and it seemed like the fighters knew it, as they each looked for takedown attempts that came up empty in an effort to pull into the lead. With that option coming up short, the battered middleweights continued to look for the home run shot, with a late surge from Camozzi making a strong late statement.
"It was a tough fight," said Camozzi. "He fought in a weird style which
was hard to figure out. I did more damage and I think that’s what the
judges went on."
Watch Camozzi's post-fight interview
RICCI vs. FLETCHER
The main card opener didn’t get the Pay-Per-View portion of UFC 158 off to a rousing start, but it did get Montreal’s Mike Ricci his first UFC win, as he nabbed a unanimous decision over Colin Fletcher in a battle of recent Ultimate Fighter finalists.
“My walkout song – “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins – said it all for me," said Ricci. "I have been waiting for this moment all my life. I grew up wanting to win in the Octagon, and I’ve spent six years on a road of blood and sweat to make sure I got here. I had some UFC jitters, but I spoke with GSP two days ago and he said ‘Listen, get used to them because they never, ever go away’ so I was nervous but I expected to be going in. Winning a UFC fight means everything to me."
Scores were 30-27 across the board for TUF 16’s Ricci, now 9-3; England’s TUF Smashes finalist Fletcher falls to 9-3.
The first round was fought solely on the feet, with both fighters having their moments of success but neither being able to hurt or dominate the other, making it a tough stanza to score.
Ricci switched things up in the second round, getting a quick takedown and immediately pushing Fletcher to the fence. The two soon rose, Fletcher emerging with a bruise under his right eye. And while Fletcher was the busier of the two, there was no heat behind his strikes. Ricci’s methodical pace wasn’t making any fans either, with the crowd booing and growing restless.
Little of note was landed by either fighter in the first three minutes of the third round, with Ricci finally getting a roar from the crown as he scored a takedown, landed some ground strikes and then took his foe’s back, securing his first Octagon victory.
See highlights from Ricci's performance
Hendricks Wins War, Calls for Title Shot - UFC 158 Main Card Results
By Thomas Gerbasi March 16, 2013