The main event of UFC 154 will feature the long-awaited return of Georges St-Pierre, who will face Carlos Condit for undisputed ownership of the UFC's welterweight division.
St-Pierre's last action came just short of 19 months ago, while Condit last competed in February, and the combined inactivity of the two men has done nothing but heighten the anticipation surrounding their impending duel.
To honor the contestants that will strive for undisputed UFC gold on Saturday, November 17, let's take a look back at the defining moment of each fighter's MMA career.
Georges St-Pierre: Matt Serra defeats GSP via knockout at UFC 69
While a defining moment usually signifies the zenith of a fighter's career, St-Pierre's came when he was at his lowest.
After finally taking UFC gold away from Matt Hughes in 2006, St-Pierre entered his first title defense as an overwhelming favorite, only to suffer his greatest professional disappointment—a blowout loss to lightly-regarded Matt Serra.
Though certainly not the shining moment of St-Pierre's career, the Serra loss continues to define him as a fighter for several reasons.
First, UFC 69 represents a pivotal moment in GSP's career—a choice of paths, one taken, one not. St-Pierre could easily have wilted after his prestige and aura of invincibility were shattered, but he didn't.
Instead, he used the moment to teach himself the price of overconfidence and taking a future result for granted.
He has yet to make that mistake a second time.
Secondly, the loss gave St-Pierre the chance to really embrace his humility, an attribute that motivates and defines him to this day. The champion regularly acknowledges the strengths of his opponents zealously, speaking of them as equals or betters, rather than verbally attack weaknesses and define them as inferiors like so many other fighters do.
This has not only functioned to keep St-Pierre's game sharp, but has also served to make him the gentleman of mixed martial arts, a role he's embraced to grow his marketability and stardom.
Third, the Serra fight impacted St-Pierre's fighting tactics, which went from primarily stand-up to wrestling-heavy in the wake of the upset loss.
Though St-Pierre still wields an impressive stand-up arsenal, since 2007 he's been eager to put opponents on their backs, recognizing the position as the least threatening to him. While this style has been called safe, boring and conservative, it's also led him to nine straight wins and the recovery of his pound-for-pound ranking.
While St-Pierre's career is lacking nothing in the way of impressive wins, monumental fights and iconic moments, it is ironically a loss that has impacted his career above all else.
Carlos Condit: CC defeats Nick Diaz at UFC 143
Though Condit really made a name for himself while competing in the WEC, it wasn't until he showed he could hack it in the UFC that he became a star in the sport.
In fact, it wasn't really until he defeated Nick Diaz this February—a fight he entered as a decided underdog—that he gained recognition as one of the top 170-pound fighters on the planet.
First, Condit's win over Diaz ran his current winning streak to an impressive five fights, no small feat in the world's premiere organization.
Secondly, Diaz embodied Condit's biggest trophy to date, even if the manner in which Condit bagged him was not as impressive as some of his less notable victories.
Third, the win vaulted Condit into a fight for a title unification match with the greatest welterweight fighter of all time, and has given him the chance to alter the landscape of not only the welterweight division, but the entire MMA world.
And fourth, Condit's win over Diaz added a wrinkle to his game that we had never seen before. Always regarded as an aggressive headhunter, Condit showed he could implement more methodical, conservative tactics and still be successful at the highest level of competition.
All in all, Condit's win over Diaz stands boldly as the defining moment of his MMA career.
But of course, that will no doubt change, should he pull of the upset at UFC 154.
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