Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with a mixed martial arts (MMA) pay-per-view (PPV) that featured a whopping seven Canadian fighters to appease the fans from "The Great White North."
However, one of those seven was markedly more important to the folks who showed up to the Bell Center on Nov. 17, 2012, to see UFC 154. That Canadian was, of course, UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who returned from a year-plus layoff to defend his belt against interim champion Carlos Condit.
All in all, the card was like any other, in that it brought a few very exciting bouts, as well as a few that were totally worth missing.
As is always the case, a card full of MMA match ups results in a pile of gleeful victors, and it also brings about a group of woeful fighters who fell short of the intended mark.
It's at this point that we dig through both piles, in the hope of determining who is the biggest winner and lowliest loser of them all.
As usual, there were a few worthy candidates. Bantamweight Ivan Menjivar landed one of the nastiest armbars we've ever seen, when he went belly down on opponent Azamat Gashimov and made his arm bend in a direction it definitely wasn't supposed to go.
Cyrille Diabate, showed off his improved ground game with a submission victory of his own versus fellow Light Heavyweight, Chad Griggs.And Johny Hendricks scored a vicious knockout against Martin Kampmann, cementing his status as the number one contender in the 170 pound division.
All would be noteworthy nominees, and on any other night, they might have even been able to walk away with the prize. Unfortunately, each fighter had to contend with the true star of the show, none other than "GSP," himself.
After being out of action for more than one year, St. Pierre was set up for failure. Everyone wanted to know how his knee would hold up. Would he the same fighter as before? Could he handle the challenge of a fighter like Condit, who would, presumably, be in his face the whole fight? Would the talks of a potential "super fight" versus Middleweight champion Anderson Silva play with his mind enough to throw him off his game?
St. Pierre answered all those questions and then some, when he took Condit's best shot, rose above adversity, and went on to defend his title for the seventh time in a row.
Not only did he win, he looked about as good as he ever has. Sure, he looked like he was in trouble when, in the third round, Condit caught him with a head kick that appeared to have him badly hurt. However, he recovered quickly, fought through it and was still able to strongly finish the round and the remainder of the fight.
It's hard to say what will be next for "GSP," but for now, he should be allowed to relish the moment. He's earned that right.
Like the former category, this one has some stuff competition.
Mark Hominick got beat up again, losing his fourth fight in a row. You absolutely have to feel for the guy with what he's been through, but there's a real chance that he may get his pink slip after this one. I'm not saying I hope it happens. I don't. But it'd be naïve to assume it's not being brought up.
Martin Kampmann got KTFO in less than one minute, in a fight where he was supposed to be proving he deserved to be at the front of the line for the next crack at St. Pierre's belt.
Carlos Condit came up short in the biggest fight of his life, and he was unable to capitalize when his biggest opportunity presented itself.
It'd be easy to nominate any of those names as the lowliest loser, but I'm going to go a different route.
For me, the biggest loser of the night was the UFC. Hear me out.
The event should have been a celebration for St. Pierre and for the Montreal fans. It should have been almost as big a celebration for Johny Hendricks. There was a perfect opportunity to announce the next welterweight championship fight between St. Pierre and Hendricks, while both fighters' victories were fresh in the audience's minds.
Except, that's not what happened.
Instead, we were treated to visuals, all night long, of Anderson Silva, cageside, sitting in the middle of an awkward sandwich between Ed Soares and Lyoto Machida, who were proudly wearing their "No Shave November" moustaches.
All the while, I just don't get the overwhelming feeling that this is a match up everyone really wants.
Maybe I'm totally wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. But is a "GSP" vs. "Spider" "super fight" the thing you want most on your MMA wishlist?
I bet it's not. In fact, I bet you'd much rather see Silva fight UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones. It makes so much more sense for so many more reasons.
And when you look at and listen to St. Pierre and Silva, you get the impression that they're really being pressured into this ... at least in the case of St. Pierre. He's clearly reluctant to fight Silva at this moment in time.
Furthermore, think about the logjam it creates in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions if that fight truly does go down in May. Both divisions are as deep as they ever have been. Is UFC President Dana White going to ask Hendricks to wait a year?
What about in the middleweight division? Though we don't currently have a clear cut number one contender, we will soon. Should he have to wait for this whole situation to be worked out, as well?
It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and I feel like the UFC could have handled it all better. I thought it was a dark cloud that hung over the event, and it took some of the shine off of St. Pierre's victory. I don't think it was fair to him or to Silva.
Those are my picks for biggest winner and lowliest loser from UFC 154.