Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
MONTREAL -- Johny Hendricks went into his UFC 158 fight with Carlos Condit saying he didn't need a knockout to earn a title match. He's about to find out if he's right.
The "Bigg Rigg" tried like hell to create another highlight-reel knockout, but Condit wasn't about to join his hit list. Instead, he made it a scrap to remember, fighting Hendricks tooth and nail to the final bell.
It was a close fight, but in the end, it was probably Hendricks' takedown prowess that gave him the edge in the eyes of the judges, who scored the bout in his favor 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
"Carlos is tougher than hell," Hendricks said. "I'm not taking nothing away from him. We fought a great fight. I came out here saying we're going to steal the show. I think we did it."
Hendricks didn't stop at his win, calling out the welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who had yet to fight Nick Diaz in the night's main event.
"GSP, if you win tonight, I want to see you hear in five months," he said.
Hendricks and Condit two fought at a frantic pace throughout. While Condit used his reach advantage well by throwing plenty of kicks, Hendricks was able to bull his way inside to look for his big left hand. Several times, it landed, but Condit was able to survive it, and often, to fire back something with similar intent.
The difference was that Hendricks (15-1) was able to stop any momentum with his takedowns. During the three-round bout, he completed 12 of 15 attempts. While he couldn't hold Condit (28-7) down or even mount much offense from the top, the judges couldn't overlook his control.
The striking game was fairly even for most of the fight. According to FightMetric, in the first, Condit landed 25 strikes to Hendricks' 22. In the second, it was Hendricks with a 26-24 edge. Condit then poured it on in the third, out-landing him 45-21.
Condit said afterward that the plan was to make Hendricks move backwards instead of fighting in his usual forward charging style. He was able to limit those bursts, but Hendricks' left still found a home several times. Enough to possibly set up his long awaited title shot.
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