Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MONTREAL -- After 19 months away, after surgery and rehabilitation, Georges St-Pierre found his way to his familiar spot on top of the world. The energized welterweight used his full arsenal of weapons and withstood one furious Carlos Condit barrage to unify the lineal and interim belts in an excellent performance.
St-Pierre was awarded the judges' decision by scores of 50-45, 50-45, 49-46.
The UFC 154 main event was short on neither drama nor performance, as the two fighters fought tooth and nail for 25 minutes.
While the scorecards look fairly lopsided, it was Condit who landed the fight's most devastating single strike when he floored St-Pierre with a left kick to the head in the third round.
Looking to capitalize on the opportunity, he quickly followed the champion to the ground and unleashed a torrent of blows, some landing, but St-Pierre was able to withstand the firepower and return to his feet.
"I thought I had it," Condit said afterward. "I was going to go in there and put leather on him. He did a good job of staying close to me."
St-Pierre said he never saw the kick coming because the vision in his right eye had been blurried in the previous round from a punch.
While Condit fought him to the final horn, it was his only real chance to finish as St-Pierre stifled his scramble attacks with his positional control and heavy dose of elbows. St-Pierre bloodied him with one of them, a cut that leaked for the rest of the bout. Meanwhile, St-Pierre left with a hematoma from the head kick.
Despite saying he did feel the ring rust involved with the long layoff, St-Pierre looked refreshed and had the same familiar, stellar timing that leads into his takedowns. He wasn't hesitant in engaging Condit (28-6) in the standup, either, landing several right crosses over the 25-minute outing.
According to FightMetric, he out-landed Condit 71-36 in significant strikes, took the challenger down seven times and passed his guard eight times.
"People talk about ring rust? I definitely know what it is now," he said. "Carlos gave me my toughest fight. He's an amazing martial artist."
It was the seventh straight title defense for St-Pierre (23-2).
Afterward, it didn't take long for talk to turn to the possibility of a St-Pierre super fight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who made the trip to Montreal to watch the bout in person. Earlier in the night, Silva voiced a hope that he would next square off with GSP.
"I know Anderson is here right now," St-Pierre said. "I was focusing on Carlos Condit 100 percent. I need to take some vacation and think about it to see where I put my career. I want to make the best decision for myself and the fans."
If St-Pierre goes for the mega-fight, it would likely take place in a stadium show, possibly in Brazil or Cowboys Stadium in the U.S. If he chooses to stay in the welterweight division, he could next be opposed by Johny Hendricks, who knocked out Martin Kampmann in the night's co-main event.
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