Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Las Vegas, Nevada, for its 20th Anniversary show last Saturday night (Nov. 16, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. And a great night of 20th Anniversary-inspired fights was ruined by a controversial main event ending between Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks.
Two Nevada-appointed judges thought that Georges St. Pierre did enough to get the split decision victory over Johny Hendricks even though the Welterweight champion appeared to be in worse shape, bloodied and bruised in the face thanks to losing most of the technical battles throughout the 170-pound showdown (watch highlights here).
After the controversial decision was announced, St. Pierre told the crowd he was leaving the sport for a "little bit," throwing the immediate rematch between the two into peril; however, that future fight is still a possibility after company president Dana White sat down with the "hurt" and "troubled" French-Canadian.
Nonetheless, before all the action unfolded inside the Octagon, there were promotional appearances to generate awareness for -- and interest in -- a trip back to "Sin City." Fighters said this and that, answering questions galore when all they really wanted to do is be left alone and not be bothered.
MMAmania.com does a pretty good job of passing along all the noteworthy pre- and post-fight comments for each event. But, as we've done before, let us look at the words that left the fighters' mouths before they stepped into the cage on Saturday night.
"He poses a threat that nobody has posed before. He covers distance very well, he's got a lot of power, great wrestler.... I don't know when I'm going to retire; it could be tomorrow, could be in one week, could be in 10 years or it could be in five years. I take one fight at a time, but I love what I do right now."
-- St. Pierre may have been lucky in getting the split decision win over Hendricks to retain his Welterweight title; however, "Rush" was weary of his opponent's threats. The focus now turns to GSP's post-fight remarks, which he also reiterated at the post-fight press conference, that he will be taking some time off to deal with issues in his life. After a talk with Dana White shortly after, it is uncertain if St. Pierre keeps to his plan.
"I think it is going to be the power. Not only is it my wrestling, but you know me -- my wrestling is power. So, everything that transfers into this fight is my power versus GSP's, and I think that's something he's not ready for. I'm going to use 100 percent and I want to demolish him.... I want to knock him out. That's all I want to do."
-- Even though "Bigg Rigg" was unable to knockout the champion, he did everything else he said he was going to do leading up to this fight. And there was truth to his words after watching last night's main event. Hendricks, unfortunately, may have felt the wrath of a bad judging call, seemingly doing enough to become the new champion. However, a rematch -- or a fight for the championship if St. Pierre decides to relinquish the belt -- is probably next for Hendricks.
"It's the hardest thing to do. You have to confront yourself and say, ‘This is how I feel. I'm afraid. These losses and what people are saying, it's starting to get to me.' But you've got to face it, because if you don't, and if you try to lie to yourself and say it's not bothering you, it'll come out. And it will come out at the most inopportune time, when you're not ready for it."
-- Rashad Evans certainly conquered fear in the co-main event, demolishing Chael Sonnen in the first round by submission (Sonnen tapped to strikes). "Suga" had his back to the wall, needing an impressive victory to still be considered as one of the better Light Heavyweight contenders in the division. And "Suga" proved he is nowhere near the end of the line. He was able to record his most impressive performance since beating Tito Ortiz at UFC 133.
"I'm distracted and there's nothing I can do about it. I'm a human being, I feel every human emotion, and being distracted is one of them. I got Wanderlei in my sights, I got a coaching gig and a trip to Brazil, bit as human beings we got to know how to do multiple things. I got things outside of that -- I have a lot to do in a day."
-- Sonnen looked like he would have rather been anywhere in the world instead of the Octagon on Saturday night, and his distractions could have been the determining factor as to why he was mauled by Evans in little more than four minutes. Sonnen can now focus on his distraction, which is to be coach on season three of The Ultimate Fighter: "Brazil" opposite Wanderlei Silva.
"I thought it was a good technical performance. Though I think everyone's been pretty pleased with my fights in the past, but I think a lot of what happened in the last fight is Jake not willing to engage. I'm focused on putting in a good performance and a fight that everyone is going to enjoy."
-- It is a bit ironic that Rory MacDonald cites criticism in his last fight, partially blaming Jake Ellenberger for his failure to engage. Before the third round, "Ares" brought forth another composed and technical fighting style, which was not all that exciting. Every time he got tagged, he went for the takedown, proving the new breed of fighter plays it safe more often than not. Surely, MacDonald cannot be criticized for the way he fights; however, sometimes cautious game plans don't always work, and it failed against Robbie Lawler.
For our complete coverage of UFC 167: "St. Pierre vs. Hendricks" check out our story stream right here.