Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre returned to the Octagon triumphantly Saturday night at Bell Centre in front of a raucous pro-GSP crowd. St-Pierre won a unanimous decision (50-45 twice, 49-46) over Carlos Condit as a minus-350 favorite to retain his welterweight title.
In his return from a torn ACL that has kept him out of the cage since April 30 of 2011, St-Pierre faced his toughest challenge in years. BrianEdwardsSports.com scored it 49-46 in favor of GSP, but Condit fought valiantly for 25 minutes.
St-Pierre was in total control for most of the first 10 minutes, using his takedowns to take top position and deliver elbows. One of those opened up a huge cut over Condit’s right eye late in the first round.
GSP took down Condit again in the second stanza. Although the champion was delivering punishment in ground-and-pound fashion, Condit was also staying busy from his back. But the same cut was bleeding profusely and ‘The Natural Born Killer’ appeared to be in trouble.
In the final minute of Round 2, a big elbow by Condit from the bottom drew blood below GSP’s left eye. With GSP returning to his corner bleeding, the much bloodier Condit raised his hands to the crowd.
His body language said this: I’m bloody as hell but I’m here to fight and I’m not going away until the final bell.
And he didn’t. In fact, the momentum of the fight clearly shifted to Condit when he caught GSP with a left head kick that floored the champion. Condit pounced on top and began dealing out his own form of ground-and-pound treatment. Condit landed a number of big shots and GSP was in trouble for the first time in years.
However, he weathered the storm and recovered. By the end of third round, GSP was back on top of his opponent. BE Sports and one judge gave the third round to Condit.
In the fourth and fifth rounds, it was vintage GSP. Despite a small hematoma on the right side of his forehead that was caused by the head kick from Condit, St. Pierre used his superior strength and wrestling and executed every takedown attempt.
Although it was a clear decision victory for St. Pierre, he clearly had been in a fight. A bloodied Condit was game from start to finish. Bets on ‘over’ 4.5 rounds were obviously winners.
In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks made another dramatic statement. He didn’t dispose of Martin ‘Hitman’ Kampmann as quickly as he KO’d Jon Fitch (12 seconds), but it didn’t take much longer.
Once again, it was Hendricks’s powerful left hand that put Kampmann out cold at the 45-second mark of the opening stanza.
After the victory, Hendricks pleaded for a title shot against the Condit-GSP winner. He’s now clearly the No. 1 contender, so the only thing preventing him from a title shot is a possible superfight between GSP and Anderson Silva.
GSP was non-committal in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, but most believe that Dana White is going to make this fight happen at Cowboys Stadium in the summer of 2013.
Since his thrilling and courageous battle with Jose Aldo for the featherweight title, Mark ‘The Machine’ Hominick has been heavily favored in three consecutive fights. In each instance, gamblers taking the underdog have feasted on monster payouts.
On Saturday night, Hominick cost his backers cash galore, losing a unanimous decision to Pablo Garza, who closed as a plus-240 underdog at most betting shops.
Hominick was in control early in the first round, using his technical striking to garner Garza’s attention early. However, the momentum shifted when a Garza punch ripped open a big cut under Hominick’s left eye. From there, Garza dominated using his length to prevent Hominick from getting into a striking rhythm.
With four straight losses, Hominick could be in danger of getting cut by the promotion.
While bettors cashed a big underdog ticket with Garza, they were left frustrated by the controversial results of two fights that nearly saw big payouts for 'dog backers.
Tom Lawlor, who was a plus-210 underdog at most spots, lost a split decision to Francis Carmont. Many felt Lawlor, who finished Rounds 1 and 2 going for guillotine submissions, should’ve had his hand raised in this middleweight clash.
Patrick Cote and Alessio Sakara waged a stand-up war. Following a couple of elbows by Sakara that floored Cote, the Canadian went for a single-leg attempt. Sakara fought of the takedown attempt with hammer fists, many of which landed to the back of Cote’s head.
Referee Dan Miragliotta should’ve intervened and taken a point away from Sakara. Instead, he allowed Sakara to land many strikes to the back of the head until Cote went limp.
At this point, the fight probably should’ve been declared a no-decision. But Cote was awarded the victory, costing Sakara backers a chance to earn a big payout in the plus-230 range (risk $100 to win $230). Sakara’s camp indicated that it will appeal the decision.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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