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UFC 167: St-Pierre retains title then walk off into sunset

The SportsXchange

LAS VEGAS -- Georges St-Pierre left the MGM Grand on Saturday night with the UFC welterweight title belt he's held since 2008.

But how much longer he'll hold it, or if he'll ever fight again, remains a question.

St-Pierre was on the right end of a controversial split decision over Johny Hendricks in the main event of UFC 167. He took two of three 48-47 judges' scores to retain the title.

Afterward, however, the Montreal native said he is going to step away for an unspecified period of time.

"I have to hang up my gloves for a little bit," said St-Pierre (25-2). "Thank you to the UFC for giving me the chance. I am very emotional."

Two out of three judges gave St-Pierre the nod in a tight round one. The rest of the way, all three judges scored round two and four for Hendricks and rounds three and five for the champion.

"I thought I clearly won the fight," said Hendricks (15-2), who had a six-fight win streak snapped. "Georges is a great guy, hey, this fight I just fought, I thought I won. Georges is a great competitor, it sucks, but I'm coming back, I'll get that belt."

With the victory, St-Pierre set records for most UFC wins (19) and most wins in UFC title fights (12).

In a featured welterweight bout, the brakes were put on St-Pierre's Montreal campmate, Rory MacDonald, as he lost a stunning split decision to veteran Robbie Lawler.

Lawler, an Iowa native, has been MMA's biggest comeback story of 2013. A washout as a young prospect 10 years ago, Lawler returned to the UFC this year and has now scored three straight wins.

After the fighters split the first two rounds, the third was the difference. Lawler landed several big punches, including a huge left hand which dropped MacDonald to the mat. While MacDonald was able to escape the ensuing flurry, he couldn't do anything to take the round. All three judges scored the bout 29-28, with two of those going in Lawler's favor for the win.

"I've had a tough road, up and down," said the 31-year-old Lawler. "I kept pushing forward in my career and that's what happened tonight."

In a welterweight bout, Tyron Woodley made a statement with a first-round knockout of veteran Josh Koscheck.

Woodley (12-2) set the tone early by landing a big right hand, followed by another which dropped Koscheck (19-8) to the mat. While Koscheck managed to survive that flurry, Woodley, a Missouri native, continued to pick Koscheck apart. Finally, a huge right hand to the jaw put Koscheck down, then one more right put the Fresno resident out. It was Koscheck's third consecutive loss.

"I knew Josh is an extremely tough and experienced guy with a lot of skills," said Woodley. "I knew coming in that I'd be very comfortable with him and I was ready to set the pace."

Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans made short work of Chael Sonnen in a battle of fellow FOX Sports studio analysts. Evans (20-3-1) overpowered Sonnen in the clinch, then rained down a series of punches on Sonnen until referee Herb Dean stepped in and stopped the fight at 4:05 of the first round.

Evans won his second straight fight. Sonnen (29-14-1) lost for third time in his past four fights, although it was his first loss in a non-title fight since 2009.

"I feel great," said Evans. "It's been a long time since I finished a fight in the first round. I know how tough Chael is and what he is capable of so I expected the fight could go the full rounds."

The main-card opener was a flyweight matchup between Russian import Ali Bagautinov and Tim Elliott of Wichita. Elliott used unorthodox stances to quick movement to try to thwart the striking of Bagautinov, who came into the fight with finished in nine of his 11 pro fights.

But it wasn't quite enough. Bagautinov (12-2) scored enough in rounds one and three and survived an Elliott (11-4-1) choke in round two to take a unanimous decision. Judges' scores were 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27.

"Physically I'm very prepared and able," Bagautinov said through an interpreter. "But I think the climate change and the nerves of visiting and fighting in America for the first time affected me."
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