Georges St. Pierre dominated Nick Diaz at UFC 158. | Jonathan Ferrey/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Talk only gets you so far once the cage door closes.
Georges St. Pierre grounded and controlled Nick Diaz at will, as he cruised to a unanimous decision and retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown in the UFC 158 headliner on Saturday at the raucous Bell Centre in Montreal. All three cageside judges scored it 50-45 for St. Pierre (24-2, 18-2 UFC), who tied hall of famer Matt Hughes for first on the all-time list with his 18th victory inside the Octagon.
“I didn’t want to fight in boxing range with him because he’s the best boxer in MMA, and his jiu-jitsu is amazing,” said St. Pierre, who has held the UFC’s 170-pound title captive for nearly five years. “He has a very unusual scrambling style that I don’t usually see. I don’t have training partners like that. It’s very hard to fight a guy like him. When you fight a guy like this, it’s almost impossible to get ready for that.”
St. Pierre struck for takedowns in all five rounds, neutralizing the Diaz guard with his stifling top game and well-timed ground-and-pound. The champion held his own on the feet, as well, tagging Diaz with his jarring jab and various other techniques, from leg kicks to Superman punches.
Diaz (26-9, 7-6 UFC) did his best work in the third round, where a burst of punches bloodied St. Pierre’s nose and briefly put him on his heels. In the end, as many predicted, the Cesar Gracie protégé simply could not stay upright long enough to make any meaningful headway.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but I feel like I came out here a little flat,” Diaz said. “I want to thank Georges for giving me the credit I think I deserve. I want to thank Canada, because there are just a lot of mixed martial arts fans out here, and people weren’t spitting on me when I came out or anything.
“I don’t know how he knew what I was going to do,” he added. “I thought that was kind of funny.”
St. Pierre still has never lost a decision, now a perfect 11-0 in fights that reach the judges. Diaz, 29, sounded like a man who was contemplating retirement.
“I think I’m going to have to figure out whether I want to keep doing this,” he said. “To be honest, I really don’t think I’ve got anymore. I think I’m done with mixed martial arts. I want to help my team, and I’m tired of getting banged up like this. I’ve been thinking this through for a while now, and I’ve been wanting to get out of this thing for long enough.”
Hendricks Takedowns Overwhelm Condit
In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks cemented his place as the No. 1 contender in the welterweight division with a unanimous decision over former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit. Hendricks (15-1, 10-1 UFC) swept the scorecards by matching 29-28 marks.
“Carlos is tougher than hell,” he said. “He fought one great fight. I said we were coming out here to steal the show, and we did it. I’ve seen this guy hit by some tough dudes, and I wasn’t going to try to put him out. I tried to fight hard and get a win.”
A four-time All-American wrestler and two-time national champion at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks stymied the “Natural Born Killer” with his takedowns, a total of 12 of them by the bout’s conclusion. He also unleashed his crushing left hand in sporadic bursts, but Condit was up to the challenge.
Condit (28-7, 5-3 UFC) never stopped his pursuit, as he was undeterred by his opponent’s strategy. The 28-year-old Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export went after the man they call “Bigg Rigg” with flying knees, head kicks and clubbing right hands, one of which bloodied Hendricks’ nose in the third round. Unfortunately for Condit, he had no answer for the bearded Oklahoman’s takedown-heavy attack.
“Johny is awesome,” Condit said. “He fought a really smart fight, and he was able to take it with the takedowns. The game plan was to keep him moving backwards. He’s great when he’s moving forward, but when you put him on his heels, he’s not as effective. I used that, but I wasn’t able to stop the takedowns, and that ultimately lost me the fight.”
Heavy-Handed Ellenberger Levels Marquardt
Reign MMA’s Jake Ellenberger wiped out onetime Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt with a brutal two-punch combination and follow-up ground strikes in the first round of their pivotal welterweight scrap. Marquardt (32-12-2, 10-5 UFC) met his end 3:00 into round one, finished for the first time in nearly six years.
Marquardt leaned on leg kicks and was effective with them in the opening stages of the fight. However, Ellenberger (29-6, 9-2 UFC) closed the distance, trapped the former middleweight King of Pancrase against the cage and let loose with a left and then a right. Marquardt folded where he stood, and Ellenberger closed it out with one last right hand to the side of the head.
“It’s hard to explain the emotions right now,” said Ellenberger, a winner in eight of his past nine bouts. “I’ve worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get where I’m at, but this makes it all worth it. Adversity really shows you how bad you really want it. I want the world championship more than anything in my life. I’ve been focusing on my speed and getting better every fight.”
Camozzi Streak Reaches Four in Split Verdict
Chris Camozzi posted his fourth straight victory, as he earned a split decision over fellow “Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 alum Nick Ring in a featured middleweight encounter. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Camozzi (19-5, 6-2 UFC).
Ring (13-2, 3-2 UFC) employed a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach, as he pecked away at his foe with a sharp jab and a steady stream of kicks to the leg and body. However, the 34-year-old Bellator MMA veteran could not maintain the pace he needed. Camozzi turned the corner in the second round, where he whacked Ring with a thudding knee, and then turned up the heat in the third. There, he peppered Ring with stiff jabs and left crosses, leaving a positive final impression with the judges.
Ricci Outpoints Fellow ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Finalist Fletcher
Takedowns and effective ground-and-pound carried Tristar Gym representative Mike Ricci to a unanimous verdict over Colin Fletcher in a lightweight showcase. All three cageside judges arrived at the same ruling: 30-27 for Ricci (8-3, 1-1 UFC).
A Firas Zahabi protégé, Ricci never allowed Fletcher (8-3, 0-2 UFC) to find his comfort zone. The 26-year-old Canadian turned the tide with a strong second round, as he scored with a takedown and left Fletcher’s right eye badly damaged with some well-placed ground strikes. Ricci punctuated his first Octagon victory in round three, where he delivered another takedown, moved to the Englishman’s back and threatened him with a rear-naked choke and an armbar.
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