COMMENTARY | On Saturday, November 17, Georges St. Pierre defeated Carlos Condit via unanimous decision to unify the UFC welterweight title. St. Pierre's victory capped off another interesting card in Montreal, which sets the tone for an exciting string of UFC events to finish the year.
Here are three thoughts on UFC 154's main card:
St. Pierre returns
Most fans and media members believed that St. Pierre would win this fight, but I wasn't one of them. I've seen far too many fighters lose when they return from a major injury to believe that St. Pierre should be considered a sure bet to win. However, St. Pierre proved me wrong, and he did it with a grittiness that I haven't seen from him in a long time.
There are a lot of people who will look at this fight and complain that St. Pierre didn't finish Condit. That's to be expected when St. Pierre hasn't earned a stoppage in over three years. Yet Condit is best fighter St. Pierre has faced in that timeframe, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Moreover, this was not a boring fight. It was a war between two of the best welterweights on the planet. Both fighters took their share of damage, and both had their chances to win the fight. St. Pierre simply wasn't able to dominate Condit like he has other opponents.
Johny Hendricks stakes his claim
A Georges St. Pierre-Anderson Silva mega-fight might be the bout that is on everyone's mind, but Johny Hendricks definitely earned his shot at the UFC welterweight title on Saturday night. Hendricks put Martin Kampmann away with a hard left hand just 46 seconds into the first round to cement his status as the 170-pound division's No. 1 contender. He's now beaten Kampmann, Josh Koscheck and John Fitch in his last three fights.
I think Hendricks presents St. Pierre with some problems. His striking isn't perfect, but he's more than capable of knocking out St. Pierre. As a distinguished wrestler, Hendricks has a better chance of holding his own against St. Pierre's powerful grappling. That said, St. Pierre is a superior athlete with a polished striking game. It's a matchup that many fans hope to see, and I don't want to wait a year to see it. If the UFC wants a Silva-St. Pierre fight, I'd rather they wait until St. Pierre defends the title one more time.
The Alessio Sakara-Patrick Cote fight was thought to be one of the more exciting bouts on the UFC 154 card, and it didn't disappoint. The two fighters went at each other from the opening bell, and it took them just under 90 seconds to reach a finish. Unfortunately, Sakara landed multiple punches to the back of Cote's head after the Italian fighter dropped his opponent with a hard elbow. Sakara deserves the disqualification for his actions, although they clearly weren't intentional. However, the real problem here is referee Dan Miragliotta's failure to step in and stop the fight upon seeing the first illegal punch.
Miragliotta had a responsibility to protect Cote, and he failed to do so. Instead, he looked on as Cote took at least four punches to the back of this head, one of which knocked him out. That was completely uncalled for. How would the UFC have reacted if Cote had suffered a seizure or worse in the cage? How would the sport's athletic commissions have dealt with the incident if something had happened to Cote?
The referee's job is and always will be the safety of the fighters. I understand that accidents happen, but Miragliotta had enough time to intervene. There is no excuse for his lack of action in the Sakara-Cote fight. Something needs to be done with the referees to ensure that mistakes like this aren't made again.
Derek Ciapala is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor for MMA. He has been published on GatewayMMA.com, UltimateApocalypse.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or on Twitter @dciapala.