Photo by Tracy Lee for MMAFighting.com
Georges St. Pierre was in serious danger last night midway through his UFC 154 main event fight, absorbing a shin to the temple that could have signaled the beginning of the end. But, it didn't, St. Pierre persevered and won, providing fight fans with an intriguing glimpse into his vulnerability.
It was a moment of high drama, something we look for in champions, to see how they respond. And after getting drilled with a shin kick to the head in the UFC 154 main event last night (Nov. 17, 2012), and sent tumbling to the canvas, Georges St. Pierre responded as champions do. He sucked it up, took his lumps, and extricated himself from a terribly compromising position.
And then he went back to winning a rough, tough five-round decision at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
That head kick -- and the ensuing window of opportunity it presented for Condit -- probably did more to cement public perception of St. Pierre as a champion we want to watch defend his belt than any moment of his career. It cemented his reign like no previous moment has.
That's because in six defenses -- and title-winning shellackings of Matt Hughes and Matt Serra -- St. Pierre had barely a moment of crisis. You could count on one hand the moments where he was anywhere, but in the driver's seat in all these fights. Looking fantastic and winning impressively is a great way to build cred, but fans ultimately resonate toward a champion when he triumphs over adversity.
Think about it in absence of the kick -- without it, this was simply another one-sided decision win for St. Pierre, albeit a more competitive one where he definitely took some lumps. The window in the third round is enough for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to promote future challengers.
Don't think that highlight reel editors aren't splicing together some fitting footage of Johny Hendricks blitzing Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch, or Nick Diaz playing a tune on various peoples' heads, as a kind of suggestive metaphor for what they could do against St.Pierre.
Condit's brief flirtation with upset humanized St. Pierre and made him more likeable. Let's face it -- a guy who steamrolls people all the time can get a little boring, especially if it's by decision. St. Pierre's head kick moment was the kind of glimpse into vulnerability that made his title reign a lot more exciting, marketable and meaningful.
And you can bet that the next guy who gets him in trouble will remember importance of maximizing that brief window of opportunity.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst