UFC 167 was a weird event. Even twelve hours later, I'm still having trouble coming to terms with what happened in the main event between Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The event was the 20th anniversary for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a milestone considering the legal and public relations battles that needed to be fought to get there. It was the single most significant event in the promotion's history headlined by the biggest star in the sport defending the most prestigious title.
In other words, this entire post should look back and reflect on a great night of fights. Instead, when I think about last night (Nov. 16, 2013), the only word that comes to mind is "controversy."
Controversy ruins a special night...
In the next few days, you're going to be reading a lot of stories about the split-decision victory for Georges St-Pierre. You're going to read about how Hendricks was robbed of the UFC Welterweight title and you're going to see a few people even call it the worst decision in UFC history.
You're going to see these stories because it's absolutely true. Hendricks was robbed of a title that the very rightfully earned after tossing St. PIerre a beating for five full rounds (watch highlights here). And given the significance of the event as the UFC's 20th anniversary show, it's hard to argue that it wasn't the worst decision in the promotion's history.
Georges St-Pierre and his "sort of" retirement?
In the weeks leading up to the fight, there were rumblings coming out of St. Pierre's camp that the fight with Hendricks would be his last in the Octagon. For years he's struggled with an ever growing press schedule that very literally runs fighters into a state of exhaustion and a lost passion for fighting.
On the surface, UFC 167 was the perfect event walk away from the sport. It was the a monumental event for the UFC and the fight with Hendricks provided a great story in terms of what was actually unfolding inside the cage.
As he spoke with Joe Rogan after the fight, St. Pierre didn't want to close out the night with talking about retirement. He was unsure if it was the correct time. And when he finally did get it off his chest, it just sort of fell flat. He said he needed to take several years off but wouldn't say "retired".
There was no thanking the fans or the promotion that made him a multi-millionaire. There was no passing of the torch. In other words, there wasn't that fond farewell and storybook ending. If St. Pierre returns to give Hendricks an immediate rematch only to walk away again, I hope he retires with poise.
Looking at life without Georges St-Pierre...
If last night showed anything, it's that St. Pierre's time in the sport is quickly coming to a close. There's no longer any doubt that he's going to be hanging the gloves up, it's just a matter of "when". And that's a scary thought for UFC President Dana White.
Without question, St. Pierre is the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport. When he fights, the atmosphere is absolutely electric. So a mixed martial arts (MMA) world where he just doesn't exist is absolutely terrifying.
While I appreciate White's passionate words at the post-fight press conference, the way he spoke about St. Pierre was more like someone talking about a steak than a person who had literally bled for his promotion. Be scared about the next step but don't try and ruin an already weird moment.
- Rashad Evans looked like a beast on the ground. That was an absolute mugging (full fight highlights here) and if he can show up like that every fight, there are few fighters in the light heavyweight division that can give him a competitive match. I'm not sure he's the guy to beat Jon Jones, but he definitely crushes almost everyone else.
- Also, remember when everyone joked about the Blackzilians being an mediocre team? They're sure looking to have hit their stride in the past year.
- The only thing I can say about Chael Sonnen's performance is that I hope he does better in his bout with Wanderlei Silva. He's clearly enjoying being a broadcaster for Fox Sports and is great in the analyst role, so maybe the Silva fight is the right time to go out on a win.
- So Robbie Lawler is the "Comeback Fighter of the Year", right?
- So much for worry about if Rory MacDonald would face St. Pierre for the title. I feel like everyone owes Greg Jackson an apology for making "boring" fighters when it's pretty clear that the mastermind behind the boring game plan is Firas Zahabi.
- Is it time for Josh Koscheck to retire? Yes. Yes it is.
- American Top Team had a great night with Jason High, Tyron Woodley, and Robbie Lawler all winning impressively. Woodley has reinvented himself into knockout artist (full fight highlights here), a long way from the guy who was known as a "boring" decision fighter in Strikeforce.
- Sergio Pettis looked good in his debut, but if you listened to Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, Pettis should have run through Will Campuzano. He's a great prospect but his debut was sullied a bit by an absurd amount of hype.
- Thank you Donald Cerrone for saving that undercard.
For full UFC 167: "St. Pierre vs. Hendricks" results and extensive fight coverage click here.