After a year and a half on the sidelines, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's leading drawing card returns to action Saturday. And as far as Georges St-Pierre is concerned, fight night can't come a moment too soon.
The welterweight champion, who was sidelined with an injury to his right anterior cruciate ligament, returns to defend his title in his hometown of Montreal in the main event of UFC 154 against interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit (28-5).
"Just to come back, I missed this so much, you guys cannot believe I'm so excited for tomorrow," St-Pierre told fans in Montreal on Friday after both he and Condit weighed in at the division limit of 170 pounds.
St-Pierre last defended his championship on April 30, 2011, with a unanimous decision victory over Jake Shields in front of a North American MMA record crowd of 55,724 at Toronto's Rogers Centre. St-Pierre was slated to defend his title against Nick Diaz in Las Vegas in February, but had to pull out after suffering the knee injury in training. Condit, a former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champ, substituted for St-Pierre and defeated Diaz via unanimous decision in a match the UFC deemed an interim title bout.
St-Pierre, who has held his title since 2008, has won nine consecutive fights and is generally considered one of MMA's three best pound-for-pound fighters, along with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones.
The less heralded Condit, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., is the winner of 13 of his past 14 fights, including a 5-1 record in the UFC.
St-Pierre is a well-rounded fighter who has relied increasingly on his wrestling game in recent years. Condit has primarily been known as a finisher, with 26 of his 28 wins coming by way of KO/TKO or submission.
While St-Pierre vs. Condit has received the lion's share of attention, UFC 154 also features a noteworthy co-feature bout: a match between two red-hot fighters that should determine the next No. 1 contender to the welterweight title. Johny Hendricks (13-1), a former NCAA wrestling champion at Oklahoma State, puts his four-fight win streak on the line against Martin Kampmann (20-5), a Dutch kickboxer who has put together a string of exciting victories. Kampmann handed Condit his only UFC loss back in 2009.