A Georges St-Pierre fight in Montreal was always special. UFC 158 on March 16, 2013 upped the anticipation level ten-fold because it was a matchup between GSP and heated rival Nick Diaz. It was a fight that seemed destined for the “What If” pile after it was scrapped in 2011 and 2012, but in 2013, the two welterweights finally made the walk. Seven years later, here’s how we called it the card from the Bell Centre…
The records Georges St-Pierre earned at Bell Centre - tying Matt Hughes for most wins in UFC history (18) and surpassing the Hall of Famer for most successful welterweight title defenses (8) – will probably pale in comparison to the satisfaction his shutout five-round unanimous decision win over longtime nemesis Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 158 gave him, ending the feud that lasted nearly a year and a half.
“I never took it personal,” said St-Pierre of the pre-fight banter between the two, which occasionally got heated. “Nick is a veteran and I’m actually a big fan of Nick Diaz, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to fight him.”
After the disappointing result, which saw Diaz lose by scores of 50-45 on all three scorecards, he hinted at retirement.
“I have to think if I still want to do this,” said Diaz. “I don’t think I’ve got anymore. I think I’m done with mixed martial arts.”
That would be an unfortunate move, as St-Pierre has proven over the course of his reign that he can make extraordinary fighters look ordinary, and tonight was no different.
Given the boos that greeted Diaz, it was hard to believe that the cheers for the champion would be even louder, but they were, with an initial roar followed by a steady stream of positive noise from the time St-Pierre walked out of the tunnel until he stepped into the Octagon.
Diaz was impatient while waiting for St-Pierre to make that trip up those four steps, shaking the fence and trying to get close to the Montrealer, but after Bruce Buffer’s introductions, he would get his chance. And there would be no pre-fight touch of the gloves.
There would be an almost immediate takedown by St-Pierre though, with Diaz trying to work his jiu-jitsu game from the bottom position. St-Pierre fired off ground strikes in response, with a scramble seeing him take Diaz’ back and keep him grounded. Working his way back into the guard, St-Pierre landed with more hard shots until Diaz gave up his back again, and simply put, the Californian didn’t have any answers for his opponent in the opening round, with an emphatic slam to the canvas by St-Pierre adding insult to injury.
Switching stances as the second started in the hopes of catching St-Pierre off guard, Diaz looked to be getting comfortable for a brief moment, which was just what GSP wanted, as he put Diaz on his back once again. Diaz tried to stay busy from his back, but St-Pierre wouldn’t give up his position or his control, swarming his foe and landing with punches to the head and knees to the body. Finally, with a minute left, Diaz found daylight and got upright. Remarkably, Diaz still taunted St-Pierre, who simply stuck to the game plan and continued to score, this time on the feet.
Talking to St-Pierre and taunting him, Diaz tried to goad St-Pierre into a mistake, but the champion wasn’t having it, as he continued to peck and poke at the challenger until he secured his customary takedown. Diaz made it to his feet quickly this time, and though St-Pierre continued to score with his jab, Diaz did stuff the next takedown attempt of the Canadian, and even got off a few strikes that landed. After stuffing another takedown, Diaz began trash talking again, and this time he followed it up with some of his best standup attacks of the fight. But with less than 45 seconds to go, it was Diaz on his back and St-Pierre back in control.
St-Pierre’s jab was sharp as the fourth round commenced, and after getting his first takedown attempt stuffed, he went right back to it. Diaz began finding his range as well, but he began bleeding around the left eye, just adding to his woes. The Stockton fighter wasn’t giving in through, and he landed some solid knees at close range before inexplicably walking around the Octagon, daring St-Pierre to chase him. GSP did just that, getting his takedown with two minutes left. The two soon rose, and while Diaz attempted a kimura on the next trip down, he was unable to lock it up, allowing St-Pierre another dominant round in the bank.
The fifth round played out like the previous four, with St-Pierre never in any danger of losing his positioning, his control, or his title.
With the win, St-Pierre improves to 24-2; Diaz falls to 27-9, 1 NC.
The two were scheduled to meet twice previous, at UFC 137 in October of 2011 and at UFC 143 in February of 2012.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Patrick Cote’s welterweight debut started out well in the Octagon and ended well on the scorecards, but in between, it appeared Strikeforce veteran Bobby Voelker had done enough to win his UFC debut at the Bell Centre Saturday night, only to lose a close unanimous decision to “The Predator.”
All three judges saw it 29-28 for Cote, now 20-8; Voelker falls to 24-9.
"I thought I won the first two rounds, but it was a good, competitive, close fight," said Cote. "I felt good at the weight for the first time at welterweight, but I got real tired after the second round and he pushed me around in the last round. This was my first time making the weight, this is a learning process for me, and I will work on that with my trainers and try to make sure this doesn’t happen next time. But welterweight is the weight for me now. Next time it will be a little easier and I will be closer to 100% and not tire so fast."
After a rousing reception from his hometown crowd, Cote came out swinging, nailing Voelker with some hard shots in the process as his fans chanted his name. Voelker proceeded to tie Cote up, but the Canadian reversed position against the fence and then landed an elbow that allowed him to break free. Moments later, the two locked up again, with Cote getting a brief trip to the mat before Voelker took him down. Cote worked well from the bottom, trying to hit a submission on the Missouri native. Voelker stayed out of trouble, but wasn’t able to do much with his dominant top position.
Cote kept the pressure on in the standup game in round two, looking faster and sharper than he has in a long time. Midway through the round, Voelker rallied back, and he seemed to be getting his opponent’s attention for the first time in the fight, prompting Cote, who was now bleeding from his forehead, to tie up against the fence. After a brief break to catch his breath, Cote broke loose and flurried again before matching a Voelker takedown with one of his own just before the bell.
With five minutes left, Cote and Voelker met in the middle of the Octagon and swung haymakers at each other, with Voelker getting the best of the action. After locking up, another heated exchange favored the American, who then took Cote down and began firing off ground strikes. Cote tried to catch Voelker in a submission, but to no avail, and even a brief return to the feet was greeted by another series of ground and pound from Voelker until the fight ended.
After four straight decision wins, surging featherweight Darren Elkins got the finish he craved, stopping Ontario’s Antonio Carvalho in the first round.
The TKO was Elkins’ first finish since he defeated Duane Ludwig via injury in March of 2010.
After the two kept the fight standing and had their moments in the early going, Elkins wobbled Carvalho with a right to the head. Carvalho stumbled and Elkins moved in, dropping the Canadian with a left-right seconds later. Carvalho rose, but referee Yves Lavigne had seen enough, halting the bout at the 3:06 mark, a decision that was greeted by boos from the Bell Centre crowd and protests from Carvalho, but the verdict stands.
“He was hurt for sure but after I dropped him he popped back up, and I don’t think the referee put himself in the position to see that," said Elkins. "I feel bad for him, but of course I am going to say that I would have stopped him anyway. He was very cool about it, he told me that I hurt him and he had no complaints. He’s a true martial artist and great guy."
“I don’t blame Darren," said Carvalho. "He isn’t the referee. Listen, he hit me with something because I remember going down. I shouldn’t have been caught with the punch in the first place because some referees are safety-first and you don’t get to do it again. I feel bad he got a big win and was booed. It wasn’t his call to stop it like that."
Elkins, now winner of five in a row, ups his record to 17-2; Carvalho drops to 15-6.
After eluding an early submission attempt, Alberta’s Jordan Mein went on to look spectacular in his UFC debut, handing veteran Dan Miller his first ever TKO loss, stopping him in the first round of their welterweight bout.
After some standup from both fighters to kick off the bout, Miller made the first big move, taking Mein down in the opening minute. On the mat, Miller almost hit paydirt with an armbar attempt, but Mein rolled his way out of trouble and back to his feet. Mein had better luck while standing, scoring a knockdown with a straight left with 90 seconds left. Miller recovered quickly, but Mein had found his range, bloodying and then dropping Miller a second time with a body shot. This time, the New Jersey native would not be able to recover, as Mein’s follow up barrage forced a stop to the contest by referee Marc-Andre Cote at 4:42 of the opening round.
"Fighting in the UFC for the first time was just an awesome experience," said Mein. "I had a lot of pressure on myself in the Octagon for the first time, coming in from Strikeforce. That armbar was a little scary; everyone knows Dan Miller always brings it. I just had to roll and roll until I was out. I’m so happy right now, this is a great feeling."
With the win, Mein improves to 27-8; Miller falls to 14-7 with 1 NC.
He took a while to get in a rhythm, but once he did, Montreal lightweight prospect John Makdessi delivered another impressive display of striking in winning a three round unanimous decision over Daron Cruickshank.
"That was a tough fight,' said Makdessi. "I felt strong and my cardio was good; I trusted my trainers when they said just breathe and push the pace. I think I can get much better. I want to improve every day, and I know I can get right up there if I keep working hard."
Scores for Makdessi, now 11-2, were 29-28 across the board; the loss drops Ultimate Fighter alum Cruickshank to 12-3.
What was expected to be a standup war instead proved to be a war of nerves in round one, with neither competitor wanting to be the one making a fight-ending mistake. Thankfully as the round progressed, there was more in the way of action and unorthodox techniques from both fighters, but nothing that made much of an impression, save some hard early leg kicks from Cruickshank.
The action heated up in round two, and so did Makdessi, as he transitioned from waiting back and countering to going on the attack, being successful in both areas as Cruickshank appeared frustrated from the shots landed by “The Bull.”
Landing more and more in round three, Makdessi was now in complete control of the bout, even continuing to toss aside takedown attempts from the Detroit native. Cruickshank was still dangerous though, which made Makdessi’s efforts even more impressive, as he kept engaging at close range. An accidental poke in the eye by Cruickshank brought a momentary halt to the action with a little over a minute left, but it wasn’t able to swing momentum back on Cruickshank’s side, as Makdessi scored with punches and kicks to the bell, thrilling his hometown fans.
When faced with jiu-jitsu artists, welterweight Rick Story always seems to take things up a notch, and his bout with Quinn Mulhern was no different, as he delivered a first round TKO win over the Octagon newcomer reminiscent of his 2010 win over Dustin Hazelett.
"That felt great," said Story. "I’ve been working hard to get back to where I was at and it felt great to win like that. I want to get back up and fight a big name next."
Looking to break out of a stretch where he lost three of his last four, Story stalked from the start, dropping Mulhern with a left in the opening minute. From there, the die appeared to be cast, but Mulhern began to time Story’s rushes, landing some hard counters in the process. Story walked through them though, and with a barrage of shots to the head and the body, he dropped Mulhern to the mat. A series of follow-up body punches prompted referee Marc-Andre Cote to stop the fight at the 3:05 mark.
With the win, Story improves to 15-6; Mulhern falls to 18-3.
Former Ultimate Fighter finalist TJ Dillashaw made it three straight in a bantamweight bout, impressively finishing Japan’s Issei Tamura in the second round.
Dillashaw (8-1) had little to worry about from Tamura (7-4) in the first round, as the Californian dominated the standup action, as well as the grappling against the fence that took up the majority of the opening stanza.
Confident with the way the first round went, Dillashaw went on the attack in the second, catching and dropping Tamura with a left kick to the head. As Tamura hit the deck, Dillashaw was all over him, landing a series of unanswered punches that brought in referee Yves Lavigne to halt the bout 26 seconds into the frame.
"That was the best KO of my career – so far," said Dillashaw. "From here, I just want to fight anyone who is ranked above me. I want to move up the ladder."
George Roop began his second stint in the bantamweight division with a victory, outpointing Reuben Duran unanimously over three rounds in the UFC 158 opener.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Roop, a former lightweight and featherweight who improves to 13-10-1; Duran falls to 8-5-1.
There was no feeling out process in this one, as both combatants came out throwing hard from the opening bell, Roop scoring well with kicks while the hard-hitting Duran landed with punches, raising a knot on the side of his foe’s head. With three minutes left, Duran decided to take matters to the mat, but Roop was doing the more effective work from the bottom, landing a series of elbows that may have allowed him to steal the round.
The fast paced action of the first turned into a war of attrition in the second, with the two trading takedowns but unable to break ahead and get into position for a finish, and the third didn’t change the pattern much with the exception of some close range knees from Roop that appeared to seal the decision for him.
"I got rocked a couple of times in the first round; he definitely won the first round with his strikes," said Roop. "I managed to use my range and keep him away, but there’s no way I won that 30-27. I won the last two rounds, I managed to get back into it, but I’m not that happy with my wrestling. I got work to do in the gym, but I will be back better next time."
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