Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre didn't like look a fighter who was out of action for 19 months.
The UFC's most popular drawing card returned Saturday night from a lengthy injury hiatus and successfully defended his title in his hometown of Montreal against interim champion Carlos Condit during the main event of UFC 154.
A sharp St-Pierre (23-2) won a fast-paced battle and survived a big third-round scare to retain his championship by unanimous decision. The judges' scores were 50-45, 49-46, and 50-45.
The humble St-Pierre, though, wasn't impressed with his own performance.
"People talk about ring rust, I definitely know what it is now," St-Pierre said. "Credit to Carlos, he gave me a great fight. He's an amazing martial artist."
St-Pierre controlled the first two rounds, mixing up his striking and using his superior wrestling game to repeatedly take Condit down and push a fast pace on the ground. St-Pierre opened a horrific cut on the side of Condit's head with a short elbow late in the first round.
However, Condit (28-6) persevered and nearly won the fight in the third round, as he drilled St-Pierre with a kick that landed flush over St-Pierre right eye. St-Pierre dropped to the mat and barely survived the Albuquerque, N.M., native's onslaught.
St-Pierre regained his bearings and won the fourth and fifth rounds by re-instituting his wrestling. While Condit fought a game battle until the closing horn, it wasn't enough.
"I'm still disappointed," Condit said. "(But) I'm glad I was able to come in and fight a guy like Georges and put on a show for the fans in Montreal."
St-Pierre, the champion since April 2008, won his 10th consecutive fight.
After the bout, St-Pierre was non-committal to the notion of fighting UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, a super fight that has been the subject of heavy speculation in recent weeks.
"Right now, I was focusing on Carlos Condit 100 percent," St-Pierre said. "I need to take some vacation and think about it, to see where I want to put my career. I want to make the best choice for myself, for the UFC and for my fans."
In the evening's co-feature, Johny Hendricks made his case for the next shot at St-Pierre's title with a one-punch knockout of veteran Martin Kampmann.
Hendricks was an NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State, but he's developed a reputation as one of mixed martial arts' heaviest hitters. He dropped Kampmann with a huge left hand to the jaw for the victory just 46 seconds into the first round.
"Martin Kampmann is a tough dude," Hendricks said. "I've trained with him. I wanted to make a statement and prove I was the number one contender and deserve the next title shot. Please, please give me the next title shot."
Hendricks improved to 14-1 and won his fifth straight fight. Kampmann (20-6) saw his three-fight winning streak end.
In a middleweight bout, Montreal's Francis Carmont (20-7) was awarded a victory over Providence's Tom Lawlor in a verdict so questionable, the Montreal crowd booed the split decision in favor of the hometown fighter.
Lawlor (8-5, one no-contest) dictated the tempo of the bout, repeatedly pushing Carmont back toward the fence and out-grappling him. Lawlor also had tight submission attempts toward the end of each of the first two rounds. However, two of three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Carmont, with Lawlor taking the third card 29-28.
Carmont has won eight straight fights, including all four of his UFC bouts.
Brazilian lightweight Rafael dos Anjos (18-6) scored his third straight victory with a dominant unanimous-decision win over Toronto's Mark Bocek. Bocek (11-5) repeatedly tried and failed to take dos Anjos down, leaving himself open for frequent counterattacks. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 in dos Anjos' favor.
In the main card's opening bout, featherweight Pablo Garza pulled away from London, Ontario, veteran Mark Hominick over the final two rounds to claim a unanimous decision. The first round was a tight, action-packed affair, both in standup exchanges and on the ground. But over the final 10 minutes, Garza, a North Dakota native, used his reach and length advantage to repeatedly take Hominick down and work him over.
The judges' scores were 29-27, 30-26 and 29-28.
Garza (12-3) snapped a two-fight losing streak, while Hominick (20-12) lost his fourth in a row.