UFC 158: Where Did the Fight Rank Among Canadian Events?
The war of words that unfolded between welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz before and after UFC 158 nearly overshadowed the action that ensued inside the Octagon on Saturday.
When the dust settled, however, the UFC's makeshift welterweight tournament produced several captivating bouts. This included a pair of tooth-and-nail clashes between Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit in the co-main event and "GSP" and Diaz in the main event.
But where does UFC 158 rank among other prominent Canadian events?
Because of the bulky nature of typical UFC cards, the most effective way to compare UFC 158 to Canadian classics like UFC 154 and UFC 129 is to examine each contest's co-main and main events.
Although Hendricks and St-Pierre each won via decision, each fight generated enthralling action from bell to bell.
Hendricks got outstruck 94-69 against Condit, including 42-30 in the significant strikes department. But "Bigg Rigg", a southpaw, not only scored 12 takedowns, he also tried valiantly to become the first man to KO Condit—despite injuring his left hand early in the fight.
Like the scrap between GSP and Condit at UFC 154, Hendricks and "The Natural Born Killer" garnered "Fight of the Night" honors because of the stark contrast in their styles. Hendricks' wrestling dexterity and punching power pitted against Condit's pinpoint technical striking and dangerous submission aptitude was a recipe for an action-packed brawl.
Strikes got thrown at a much higher volume in the bout between GSP and Condit at UFC 154. The Natural Born Killer outstruck GSP 190-172, although St-Pierre fired the more significant shots, outlanding Condit 71-36.
Condit nearly ended the fight when he landed a high kick flush on GSP's temple in the third round.
St-Pierre cleared the cobwebs and bounced back brilliantly, finishing the fight with seven takedowns and eight guard passes.
Although it took less than a minute, Hendricks made the co-main event at UFC 154 a memorable one by putting perennial contender Martin Kampmann to sleep with a lethal left straight.
But regardless of the excitement it generated, a 46-second knockout just can't give fans the brand of satisfaction a five-round war offers. Therefore, Hendricks vs. Condit was a more aesthetically pleasing bout than Hendricks vs. Kampmann.
In his win over Diaz at UFC 158, "Rush" employed a similar game plan en route to another conservative win.
St-Pierre utilized his Muay Thai prowess to keep Diaz at bay and make his venomous boxing game seem rudimentary. Rush landed 105 significant strikes and outstruck Diaz 210-80.
In the grappling category, GSP scored on nine of 16 takedown attempts and passed Diaz's guard twice.
Granted, GSP put on a solid show by physically demoralizing Diaz for the better part of 25 minutes. However, Condit landed 110 more strikes against GSP, a fact that made their fight infinitely more interesting.
At the historic UFC 129, in which 55,724 fans packed into the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Jose Aldo defended his featherweight title against a game Mark Hominick in the night's co-main event. Hominick outstruck Aldo 147-131, but only landed 71 significant strikes to Aldo's 94. Hominick also scored just one takedown and surrendered five.
In the main event, GSP did just enough to nip Diaz's teammate, Jake Shields, in a back-and-forth affair.
Shields took a round from GSP and outstruck Rush 96-92. But St-Pierre not only landed 85 significant strikes to Shields' 78, he also scored two takedowns and allowed none.
Hominick and Shields undoubtedly forced Aldo and GSP to work diligently to defend their respective belts. However, the co-main and main event fights at UFC 158 both offered more in terms of entertainment value to the fans.
After all, it was awfully fun to watch Hendricks brawl with a hungry Condit for his long overdue title shot, and to see GSP silence a chatterbox like Diaz.