COMMENTARY | On Saturday, March 16, 2013, at UFC 158, current welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and the division's number one contender, Johny Hendricks, won their respective bouts in style and in similar fashion. Both fighters secured a win using their high-level grappling and wrestling skills. In that, St. Pierre and Hendricks will meet each other at an unspecified, future date for the UFC welterweight championship.
St. Pierre vs. Diaz: Much to the surprise of many, the Canadian champion embraced the stand-up game with Nick Diaz for almost half the fight. He out-struck his opponent using a combination of leg kicks, jabs, and superman punches to confuse and disorient the "Stockton Bad Boy." After getting tagged several times in the third round, St. Pierre resorted to his wrestling and took down Diaz almost at will.
During the first three rounds, it appeared that St. Pierre was able to take down his opponent at his leisure. Although Diaz offered some resistance to the takedowns during rounds four and five, the persistent champion was still able to take down the Stockton native nine times throughout their match-up. St. Pierre's elite wrestling, accompanied by his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, nullified any offense Diaz attempted to conjure up on the ground. In the end, the champion's dominance led to another strong performance. As a result, St. Pierre now holds the distinction of having the most consecutive/successful title defenses in the welterweight division (eight).
Hendricks vs. Condit: Hendricks' win over the former UFC interim welterweight champion, Carlos Condit, was eerily comparable to that of St. Pierre. The Oklahoma native is known for his power. Hendricks' last two knockout wins over top 10 contenders lasted a total of 58 seconds combined. However, when the power of his left hand was stifled by an injury sustained early in the fight, "Bigg Rigg" resorted to his wrestling base to garner the win.
Hendricks is a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion. Like Diaz, it appeared that Condit had little answer for his opponent's takedowns. In fact, the "Natural Born Killer" was taken down a total of 12 times, third most in UFC history. Although Hendricks did not inflict much damage on the ground, continually placing Condit on his back expressed dominance and octagon control. Responding to his loss, Condit stated at the UFC 158 Post Fight Presser that he would have to make changes to his game to compete on a higher level in the UFC.
"It's pretty obvious what I need to do. I need to go and work on my wrestling. Both fights (vs. St. Pierre and now Hendricks), that was really the deciding factor. I gotta go back and reevaluate. Gotta keep working, improving."
When Condit met St. Pierre for the welterweight title at UFC 154, the New Mexico native suffered a fate similar to the one he experienced at UFC 158. On account of being placed on his back and controlled for five rounds during his fight against St. Pierre, and without much revision to his game against Hendricks, this weakness was exploited yet again, giving the former two-time world champion his second consecutive loss.
St. Pierre vs. Hendricks: As for St. Pierre and Hendricks, these two combatants are slated to meet sometime this year for the UFC welterweight title. A bout between these fighters is certain to be a spectacle. St. Pierre is a renowned, technical striker, while Hendricks is known for his brute strength and powerful left hand. As for the wrestling, the Canadian has had little to no issue dominating other accomplished collegiate wrestlers. However, Hendricks sports only one loss on his record and has never been knocked out nor submitted. After his fight at UFC 158, the number one contender exuded confidence in response to his imminent title match-up against St. Pierre.
"I believe I got better wrestling than him. I believe I'm a better wrestler. Also, I hit harder than him. That's a proven fact. I'm just excited for the opportunity. Hopefully I can finish him. That's my goal."
St. Pierre hasn't been "finished" in six years, when he dropped the welterweight title to Matt Serra at UFC 69 via technical knockout. The Canadian champion regained the title shortly thereafter, however. Since then, St. Pierre has become a more complete fighter and has put together an 11-fight win streak. The welterweight champion has often stated that he wishes to be remembered as the "greatest" mixed martial arts fighter of all time. St. Pierre will be presented with the opportunity to add to his legacy when he meets a very game opponent in Hendricks for the UFC welterweight title later on this year.Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, Next Step Magazine, and Yahoo! News. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter @clintonbullock, and on his MMA website.
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