Johny Hendricks will probably never fight a better fight than the performance he turned in at UFC 167 against longtime welterweight champion Georges St.Pierre. However, in the end, it was GSP retaining his 170 pound title in a highly controversial split decision victory in Las Vegas.
It was a truly a fight where even the most ardent of St.Pierre supporters would have been resigned to a 3-2 loss in rounds, or perhaps even a 4-1 verdict in favor of the challenger. In all honesty, it seemed a no-brainer.
St.Pierre has been a noble champion during his lengthy UFC reign, but this was simply a decision that had a substantial odor attached to it. Even St.Pierre seemed surprised by the decision that allowed him to retain his title for a ninth straight time. It marked the 19th victory of his UFC career, which also established a new record. However, that accomplishment was simply lost given the huge controversy.
St.Pierre showed tremendous heart throughout as he absorbed a number of hard shots from the tremendously powerful challenger. While Hendricks was unmarked after the 25-minute performance that was probably the best of his career, St.Pierre’s face was both bloody and swollen.
The fight ended up being a more stand-up contest than the champ had hoped for, as he was on the receiving end of a number of hard punches and was unable to get his trademark jab untracked. He also had limited success in taking Hendricks to the ground, which negated his trademark ground-and-pound.
Hendricks showed surprising stamina in the contest as his success against the champion wasn’t limited to just the first three rounds as many experts had anticipated. GSP talked about stepping away for a while in the wake of his 25th career victory. However, what that means for the welterweight division remains to be seen. Even UFC President Dana White was at a loss to explain the scoring in the fight.
One thing that is known is that “Bigg Rigg” was denied his right to wear the gold in the best performance of his career. He deserves to be the UFC’ s welterweight champion and hopefully he will receive another title opportunity that he is more than deserving of. White is often critical of the sport of boxing for the ridiculous decisions that raise eyebrows from time to time.
Unfortunately for the UFC, its 20th anniversary show will always be remembered for a stinker of a verdict that allowed St. Pierre to retain his belt against a challenger who deserved a better fate.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports