What was supposed to be the UFC’s first real ‘super fight’ at UFC 158 resulted in a one-sided beat down as GSP, in his typical trademarked style, overwhelmed, dominated and bullied Nick Diaz to record his 11th straight win and retain his Welterweight title.
As the lights dimmed, and the partisan crowd booed as loudly for Diaz as they cheered for GSP it felt like a big fight, Bruce Buffers outrageous introductions only added to the occasion. The fight didn’t live up to its much hyped potential however, as GSP employed his tried and tested game plan of completely neutralising his opponents strengths.
From the opening bell it was clear Pierre had no interest in trading with ‘the best boxer in MMA’, if you were to believe commentator Joe Rogan’s hyperbolic claims, as he took down the Stockton native with ease. From there on out it was auto-pilot for GSP as he jabbed, elbowed and kneed a hapless Diaz for the full five rounds to earn a shutout 50-45 decision on all 3 judges’ scorecards.
Diaz did have his moments in the fight though, namely in the third round where he caught Pierre with a nice bodyshot that seemed to knock the wind out of the champion. GSP never really looked in danger and easily executed takedown after takedown whenever he felt the slightest change in momentum, a routine GSP fight, some would say, and while it might not earn him any new fans, it only helps secure his legacy as one of the all-time greats.
Fighting in his native Canada, it was always set out to be GSP’s night, but it was heavy handed Hendricks who stole the show with a fight of the night performance over former title challenger Carlos Condit. While it was Hendricks who secured his status as the number one contender to GSP’s crown, both men can hold their heads high as they put on one of the most exciting fights of the year so far.
Hendricks game plan is an obvious one, he has a huge left hook and he likes to use it, a lot, often throwing consecutive shots with his left without so much as a flinch from his right. With the power he possesses it’s easy to forget just how accomplished a wrestler Hendricks is, but he utilised all his skills as a mixed martial artist on Saturday night as he took Condit down again and again, 12 times in total.
To Condit’s credit he managed to pop up every single time and the two would trade blows, the majority of the exchanges being won by the ever improving Hendricks, before being taken down again. It was pretty much the story of the fight; blow-for-blow exchanges, Hendricks takedown, Condit gets up, blow-for-blow exchanges etc.
It made for one hell of a fight, with all three judges scoring it for Hendricks, his 6th win in a row. He has now all but guaranteed a title shot with St. Pierre sometime in the not too distant future.
Immediately prior to the Hendricks-Condit fight however, it wasn’t looking quite as clear as to who deserved the next shot at the title; as Ellenberger, who is almost a carbon copy of Hendricks albeit a right handed version, destroyed returning UFC veteran Nate Marquardt in the first round.
Ellenberger, like Hendricks, has a very predictive game plan, but when it’s so effective, and seemingly so hard to nullify, why change it? After a tentative feeling out process, In which Marquardt got the better of the opening exchanges, Ellenbergersaw the one opening he needed and duly took it. One big right hand floored Marquardt before a flurry of uppercuts left him with his head buried against the cage and Ellenberger’s hand raised.
Ellenberger has quietly amassed eight wins in the UFC, and with one more over a big name such as Carlos Condit or Rory MacDonald, he is surely next in line for a shot against the winner of GSP/Hendricks.
All-in-all it was a great night of MMA action, one of the better cards of the year, with outstanding fights, brutal knockouts and dominating performances.