Georges St. Pierre's bout with Nick Diaz at UFC 158 was viewed by many as a fight where Diaz would have a lot of success if the fight stayed on the feet. However, over the course of five rounds, St. Pierre was able to win the majority of the time contested in the stand up.
The St. Pierre jab was key to keeping Diaz from getting comfortable stepping into range and flurrying outside of a few moments in the late rounds. The standard GSP "Superman jab" was in effect as well, really seeming to disrupt Diaz's timing.
Given that GSP was able to win the majority of the stand-up, the fact that he was clearly going to dominate the wrestling and positioning on the ground meant that it would be a relatively easy night for him. St. Pierre did appear a bit more fatigued in the later rounds than usual, but it never really took away his explosiveness. He just had less energy to keep Diaz off of him, which allowed for some time to be spent in the clinch, an area where Diaz had a bit of success.
Still, St. Pierre was clearly the better man tonight and Diaz was left to claim he was retiring yet again. Johny Hendricks -- more on him in a second -- will almost certainly be up next and represents a much more interesting fight than Diaz in my eyes.
- Before I get to the rest of the UFC 158 card, I'm going to annoy some of you by mentioning that you should absolutely track down a replay (there will be plenty) on HBO of Tim Bradley's fight with Ruslan Provodnikov from tonight. As good as Hendricks/Condit was, Bradley vs. Provodnikov was ten times better. One of the absolute best fights I've seen in years. I'm looking forward to re-watching it tomorrow when my attention isn't torn. I'm not exaggerating in any way when I say that it was literally exciting from the start to the absolute last second.
- Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit was a really brilliant fight. There's a legit case to be made that Condit won the fight, though I scored it 29-28 for Hendricks. They exchanged some really heavy shots before Hendricks appeared to break his hand. At that point it became a bit more about Hendricks' ability to score takedowns than anything, but he still used his damaged hand to try and throw a little heat. Hendricks is as deserving as anyone ever can be of a title shot, so hopefully nothing derails the fight that should absolutely happen.
- Jake Ellenberger blasting Nate Marquardt was oddly satisfying. Marquardt's prior UFC exit left a bad taste in the mouths of many, and Ellenberger is a hard guy to not pull for. So seeing him land some big shots that left Marquardt face down was a solid moment. Ellenberger getting a fight with someone like Tarec Saffiedine would be interesting.
- Nick Ring's loss to Chris Camozzi was a snoozer, as was Mike Ricci's win over Colin Fletcher. Those were bad fights to be put on the portion of a card that people pay for, but the three main bouts really overcame that.
- I scored Patrick Cote's fight with Bobby Voelker 29-28 for Voelker but I can see giving Cote rounds 1 and 2, meaning that I didn't see the fight as a robbery when Cote took the decision. Cote is really looking like he's on his last legs though. He tries really hard, but he's a "heavy hitter" with a total of 2 KO/TKO's in his UFC career and none in well over five years. And his tendency to fade in fights now makes his not stopping people early more of an issue.
- Darren Elkins' stoppage win over Antonio Carvalho was somewhat controversial given that the stoppage was early. Even acknowledging that the stoppage was early, I have trouble getting upset or calling it awful. Carvalho was badly hurt, tried to walk forward and ended up going sideways instead, then Elkins cracked him and dropped him, at that point Yves Lavigne had already made the decision to step in. It seemed clear that he was waiting for Carvalho to take a big shot and was stepping in. This is a sport where refs can't stop the fight to get a read on how a fighter is doing and make sure he is responding properly. So, if we're going to tout the "safety" of the sport, we probably shouldn't get upset when a guy just had his legs not take him in the right direction and then get knocked down with a big shot.
- I badly underestimated Jordan Mein. I didn't see any way he'd stop Dan Miller, but he put an absolute beating on the vet. Mein has a world of skill and a really big mean streak. He is absolutely a guy to keep your eye on in the coming years.
- John Makdessi and Daron Cruickshank put on an exciting bout, actually standing up for three rounds in a fight that most hoped would be a stand-up battle instead of it turning into a bad grappling match. Cruickshank has some solid skills but Makdessi's striking was just half a level better and that allowed him to stay out of trouble and land his own big shots throughout.