|ESPN.com: Mixed Martial Arts||[Print without images]|
MONTREAL -- Another chapter in the storied career of Georges St-Pierre came to a close Saturday before a sellout crowd at UFC 158 at Bell Centre -- and there were no plot twists.
St-Pierre (24-2) defended the UFC welterweight title for an eighth consecutive time, out-pointing former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz by unanimous scores of 50-45.
The Canadian mixed martial artist now ranks second all-time in UFC title defenses, trailing only middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who has 10.
St-Pierre and Diaz went back and forth in a heated rivalry leading up to the bout -- Diaz publicly accused St-Pierre of steroid use earlier in the week -- but they embraced after the final bell.
"He did a great job promoting the fight. Nick Diaz is a good guy," St-Pierre said. "I didn't want to fight at a boxing range because he's the best boxer in mixed martial arts. His jiu-jitsu is amazing."
The fight resembled many of St-Pierre's previous title defenses. Diaz (26-9) could find no answer for the champion's wrestling game. He was taken down in each of the five rounds, three times in the opening minute of the round.
The first takedown came less than 10 seconds into the bout. Diaz spent the majority of the round either searching for submissions from his back or turtled up away from the cage. St-Pierre highlighted the round with two elbows from full-guard.
Diaz, who briefly retired and hadn't fought since a loss to Carlos Condit in February 2012, stated once again his desire to move away from the sport.
"I don't want to make excuses but I think I might have been flat from a year off," Diaz said. "I want to thank Georges St-Pierre for giving me the credit I feel I deserve. I think I'm done. I'm tired of getting banged up."
Known for his volume punching, Diaz had limited success dealing with St-Pierre while standing. St-Pierre landed the jab almost at will, causing the area around Diaz's eyes to swell.
When Diaz was successful it was usually with the straight left. He opened a cut near St-Pierre's right eye in the fourth round, after showcasing better takedown defense in the third. Just when it looked as if Diaz had gotten the fight where he wanted, though, St-Pierre scored a crucial takedown to finish the third in top position.
"[The strategy] was to stay in a kickboxing range," St-Pierre said. "Stay out of a boxing range and use my karate to get in and out. Also, [apply] my wrestling."
Plenty of options exist for St-Pierre's next opponent, including welterweight contender Johny Hendricks (15-1), who defeated Condit in the UFC 158 co-main event.
Diaz has now lost back-to-back fights after winning his previous 11. The 29-year-old is 1-2 since returning to the UFC in 2011.
Alright, Johny Hendricks. You've made your point.
On a night when he would have liked to be fighting for the UFC title, Hendricks defeated Condit via unanimous decision in an early "Fight of the year" candidate instead.
|Johny Hendricks' power and output swayed the judges in his favor.|
The win solidifies Hendricks' spot as the No. 1 contender in the UFC welterweight division, although it was unquestionably the toughest victory of his career. All three judges scored it in his favor, 29-28.
After the fight, Hendricks said he felt he broke his hand during the fight.
Hendricks (15-1) went to work from the opening bell with the lethal left hand that's built quite a reputation within the Octagon. He would land that left hand numerous times throughout the 15-minute bout, but Condit, who has never been knocked out, refused to back down.
The real story of the fight was the offensive wrestling of Hendricks. The former Division-I All-American successfully completed at least four takedowns in every round, stealing precious momentum away from Condit in the process.
Condit (28-7) pushed the pace when he could, catching Hendricks' chin with knees and front kicks while peppering the lead leg with kicks. While he failed to stop the majority of Hendricks' takedowns, he was consistent in working back to his feet.
His best moments came in the final round, highlighted by a looping overhand right that pushed Hendricks to the fence. With 90 seconds remaining in the fight, Condit unloaded his final combination, hurting Hendricks with a knee in the process.
The late rally won Condit the round, but not the fight. ESPN.com also scored the bout 29-28 for Hendricks.
Condit suffered consecutive losses for just the second time in his 35-fight career. The last time it happened was to Jake Shields and Pat Healy in 2006.
If Jake Ellenberger isn't the hardest-hitting welterweight in the UFC, he's a close second to whoever is.
Ellenberger (29-6) ran his career-knockout total to 18 with a first-round finish over the veteran Nate Marquardt. A left hook, straight right combination was the beginning of the end for Marquardt, who was saved at the 3:00 mark of the fight.
|Jake Ellenberger's incredible power promptly ended matters against Nate Marquardt in one round.|
"I saw he squared up whenever he kicked, so I threw hard every time he did that," Ellenberger said. "This is no doubt the biggest knockout of my life and it puts me right there for a title fight or a No. 1 contender fight."
In his first UFC fight since March 2011, Marquardt (32-12-2) fought smart but had no answer for the pressure of Ellenberger. He caught Ellenberger with a right hand early but backed off when a short counter opened a cut below his right eye.
The final sequence began with a body kick by Marquardt, which Ellenberger countered with the left hook and right hand. The second punch caught Marquardt flush and he fell to his knees.
The former Strikeforce champion tried to slow the action by grabbing a single leg, but Ellenberger followed with more right hands that finished the fight.
Ellenberger is knocking on the door of a shot at the UFC welterweight title, with wins in seven of his last eight bouts. The 27-year-old's only loss in that stretch came to Martin Kampmann in June, after he nearly finished the bout in the first round.
Marquardt suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He forfeited the Strikeforce 170-pound title following a decision loss to Tarec Saffiedine in January.
A 185-pound contest between Chris Camozzi and Nick Ring failed to produce fireworks, but Camozzi did enough to earn the split-decision nod.
|A late surge by Chris Camozzi, facing, helped him edge his way past Nick Ring.|
The two middleweights fought at a high pace, but neither could put together that one, fight-changing moment. Two judges scored it 29-28 for Camozzi, while the third saw it 29-28 for Ring.
"It was a tough fight," Camozzi said. "He fought in a weird style, which was hard to figure out. I did more damage and I think that's what the judges went on."
Camozzi (19-5) was the more aggressive of the two, stalking Ring around the cage and stringing together combinations of kicks and punches. He caught Ring throughout the fight with a straight left, which opened up cuts near the right eye.
Ring (13-2) appeared to have a speed advantage, but the volume of Camozzi's punches prevented him from getting into rhythm. He looked to utilize his footwork throughout, but couldn't create the striking angles he was looking for.
One of the biggest shots of the fight came in the second round, when Camozzi snapped Ring's head back with a high knee from the Thai clinch.
Camozzi extended his win streak to four with the victory, including finishes over Dustin Jacoby and Nick Catone. Ring falls to 1-2 in his last three fights, after starting his professional career with 12 consecutive wins.
Canadian lightweight Mike Ricci defeated Colin Fletcher via unanimous decision in a slow-paced but relatively one-sided fight.
|Mike Ricci, left, found it difficult to land consistently on Colin Fletcher.|
Fletcher (8-3), a submission specialist, managed to hold his own on the feet early but as time went on, it grew clear Ricci was the superior striker. Ricci, a former cast member on "The Ultimate Fighter," took all three rounds on each judge's card.
"He was so hard to figure out," Ricci said. "I was trying to land to the head but he's so unorthodox I couldn't get him, so I went for the body just to make sure I landed something. I was in control every time we went to the ground, though."
The biggest weapon for the southpaw Ricci (8-3) was the straight left hand. He found his range with it late in the first, and caused a lot of swelling around Fletcher's right eye midway through the second.
With the fight well in hand, Ricci scored a takedown with 90 seconds left and quickly passed Fletcher's guard and took his back. The crowd roared as Ricci went for a rear-naked choke, but ultimately ran out of time.
A teammate of UFC welterweights Rory MacDonald and Georges St-Pierre, Ricci rebounds from a decision loss to Colton Smith in the TUF 16 Finale. That fight was contested at 170 pounds. Fletcher falls to 0-2 in the UFC.
Patrick Cote earned a win in his 170-pound debut, edging Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision in a closely contested fight.
|Patrick Cote, left, manuevered his way past Bobby Voelker in a grueling three-round affair.|
Cote (19-8), who fought Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title in 2008, faded late against Voelker but did enough in the early rounds to win. All three judges scored it for the Canadian, 29-28.
"I thought I won the first two rounds, but it was a good, competitive, close fight," Cote said. "I felt good at the weight, but I got real tired after the second round. This is a learning process for me."
Both fighters showed a willingness to trade punches throughout the bout. Cote's striking was more effective early, but he surrendered a takedown midway through the opening round.
Voelker (24-9), however, failed to generate significant offense from top position. He fought off several armbar attempts from Cote, but scored little damage of his own.
Cote opened the following round even better than the first. He landed a pair of hard right uppercuts to Voelker's chin and a good body combination along the fence. Voelker responded though, with a knee in the center of the cage that opened a cut on Cote's forehead.
The third round clearly belonged to Voelker, as the pace seemed to affect Cote. Voelker used an outside trip to put Cote on his back and kept him there for the majority of the round.
ESPN.com scored the contest 30-27 for Voelker.
Cote improved to 6-1 in his last seven fights. The loss came via unanimous decision to Cung Le at UFC 148. Voelker suffered his first loss since May 2010.
Darren Elkins remains perfect as a UFC featherweight -- although his latest victory comes under some controversy.
|A quick blitz by Darren Elkins, right, brought his bout with Antonio Carvalho to a surprising, controversial end.|
Elkins extended his win streak to five with a first-round TKO win over Antonio Carvalho, but it appeared referee Yves Lavigne waved off action prematurely.
Following several early exchanges, Elkins (16-2) popped Carvalho behind the left ear with a straight right. Carvalho tried to hide the effects of the punch, but Elkins swarmed and dropped him with another right, prompting a stop at the 3:06 mark.
"He was hurt for sure," Elkins said. "But after I dropped him he popped back up and I don't think the referee put himself in the position to see that."
Despite being hurt, Carvalho (15-6) bounced to his feet as Lavigne rushed in to rescue him. The Canadian featherweight argued his case to the referee, but the outcome of the fight had already been determined.
"I don't blame Darren," Carvalho said. "He isn't the referee. I shouldn't have been caught with the punch in the first place because some referees are safety-first and you don't get to do it again."
The win marks the fifth knockout victory in Elkins' professional career and first since 2010. Carvalho falls to a 2-2 overall mark in the UFC.
Jordan Mein nearly didn't survive his first two minutes in the UFC -- but everything turned out well for the Canadian eventually.
The former Strikeforce standout made an early impression in the Octagon, defeating Dan Miller via TKO in the first round after surviving an early armbar attempt.
"That armbar was a little scary," Mein said. "Everybody knows Dan Miller always brings it. I just had to roll and roll until it was out."
Miller (14-7) took the fight to the ground in the opening minute, shooting on Mein as he ducked under a lead left hook. From there, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt quickly locked Mein into a tight armbar.
To the delight of the Canadian crowd, Mein (27-8) rolled out of the submission and signaled Miller back to his feet. He seized momentum later in the round, knocking Miller down with a hard left hook to the chin.
Miller got to his feet but still appeared dazed from the shot. Mein stayed on him with a series of jabs and a hard right hand. A left uppercut knocked Miller down again and referee Marc Andre Cote was forced to step in at the 4:42 mark.
Mein now has eight wins in his last nine fights. His lone loss in that streak was by split decision to fellow welterweight prospect Tyron Woodley. It's the first time Miller has been finished in his eight-year professional career.
It took John Makdessi time to get going, but the Canadian proved too much for Daron Cruickshank once he found his timing.
|John Makdessi, left, scored one for his Canadian countrymen by punching his way past Daron Cruickshank.|
All three judges scored the lightweight contest the same: 29-28 in favor of Makdessi.
"That was a tough fight," Makdessi said. "I felt strong and my cardio was good. I trusted my trainers when they said, 'Just breathe and push the pace.' I kept the pressure on him."
Cruickshank (12-3) was successful early, attacking Makdessi's lead leg. He formed a welt on Makdessi's left thigh with outside leg kicks and just missed on a potentially devastating spinning head kick in the first round.
Makdessi, though, would adjust. He consistently started to land the jab in the following round and gauge the timing of Cruickshank's kicks. In the third round, he scored a knockdown when he caught an outside kick and countered with the jab.
A member of Tristar Gym in Montreal, Makdessi has posted decision wins over Cruickshank and Sam Stout (at UFC 154) to rebound from a two-fight skid. Cruickshank, 27, suffered his first loss under the UFC banner.