Hendricks' shocking knockout was easily the greatest moment of the night.
UFC 154 was one of the biggest events of 2012 but you wouldn't have known it, looking at the first three fights.
Dana White probably would have been pulling his hair out if he had any going into the co-main event. Then came the co-main event, giving fans something to enjoy, given the potential for a standard lay-and-pray performance out of GSP.
Then Georges St-Pierre gave the Montreal crowd something to be happy about, with an old-school GSP performance. Not the GSP we saw do little more than position himself to outwork Jake Shields and Dan Hardy. The GSP that armbarred Matt Hughes and knocked out Matt Serra.
This was a tale of two cards, with the top four welterweights delivering when the UFC needed them to. So what is the official Bleacher/Report Power Ranking for tonight's main card? Find out here!
Carmont was given a gift of a victory at UFC 154, as Lawlor controlled him throughout the fight.
This is a no-brainer for worst fight of the night. I am not going to blame Tom Lawlor for making this a clinch-fest. Lawlor is a legit wrestler while Carmont is a scary striker. He found Carmont's weakness and exploited it.
That said, Lawlor brought the fight to the cage and to the ground and, to Carmont's credit, was able to do very little with it. Still, this was the third fight of the main card to go to decision. Not only did it go to decision, but it was such an egregiously bad decision that the Montreal crowd booed against their local favorite.
While the first two decisions were less technically impressive, I hate bad decisions. Worse yet, I hate bad decisions that rob fighters I like.
Lawlor should have gotten the nod here.
Dos Anjos out-worked Bocek but failed to impress in any big way.
Ah, Bocek vs. dos Anjos. This fight, obviously, was not originally supposed to be on the main card and it became painfully obvious why after the end of the first round.
It seemed initially like this would be one of those grappler vs. grappler matches where it never actually goes to the ground. This usually ends up being technically impressive, but remains a safe distance from being exciting.
From the second round on, Bocek did little more than survive. Dos Anjos bullied Bocek around as the exhausted Canadian seemed totally fine with losing, as long as he didn't get submitted.
Dos Anjos deserves credit for dominating a solid opponent, and he clearly is due a step up in competition. That said, I did not find him as amazing as the commentators did. He won in convincing fashion, sure.
But he is still very, very far from the title picture and far away from fighting a Joe Lauzon or Donald Cerrone.
This basically summarizes the second and third rounds.
Mark Hominick really, really needed a win tonight. While he was, for a long time, a top ten featherweight, his championship bout with Jose Aldo sent him into a tailspin that saw him lose fight after fight after fight.
We have seen this before, with Dan Hardy being the best example. The difference between Hardy and Hominick, though, is that Hardy is extremely popular in a market that the UFC is looking to continue growing in.
Hominick is the same kind of expendable also-ran from Canada that Patrick Cote was when he got booted from the UFC following losses to Anderson Silva, .Alan Belcher and Tom Lawlor.
Hominick, in what seems to be his now-standard overly-eager-to-please style, failed to capitalize on early momentum and will now likely be handed his walking papers after losing to Pablo Garza, who was 2-3 in his fights under the Zuffa umbrella to that point.
This was not a bad fight by any means. But this was a fight between less-than-awesome featherweights that was not especially exciting or amazing...but was still better than two of the other fights tonight.
GSP went back to his ground-and-pound roots in his win over Carlos Condit.
After the first round of the main event, I thought we were going to see the typical “boring” GSP fight. Worse yet, I thought that Diaz fans might have been on to something when they started calling Condit scared.
Then, Condit flipped the switch about two minutes into the second round and remembered “oh, right, I am a beast”. From there, it became one of the best fights of the whole year. St-Pierre reminded us of the days of old, when he was fighting Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. He grounded. He pounded. He fought ferociously.
Carlos Condit showed us how good a fighter he really is, giving us a great headkick that made me jump out of my seat and refused to let St-Pierre dominate him on the ground or against the cage. He battled for submission, reversed takedown attempts, and kept the long-time champion from getting too confident on the ground.
The fight ended, as expected, with Georges St-Pierre getting the judges' nod in the end. Still, it was easily the most exciting bout we've seen from GSP in a very long time.
Hendricks asserted himself as the clear top contender in the welterweight division.
One of the biggest cards of 2012 was started off with three less-than-amazing fights. By no means am I going to criticize dos Anjos, Bocek, Lawlor or Garza for going into the cage with the intent of grappling.
That said, these were not impressive, technical grappling matches. They were fighters fighting to survive. Again, nothing wrong with some of that, but not three of them back-to-back-to-back. Then came Johny Hendricks.
Martin Kampmann is a savvy veteran. He has fought and beaten a lot of great fighters, including Carlos Condit. That said, Hendricks threw a hook to open up a devastating left straight that put Kampmann on his back. He followed him to the ground and landed a single punch that sealed his victory.
I was a bit of a doubter when it came to Hendricks. I figured the punch that floored Fitch was a fluke and maintain that Koscheck should have gotten the decision when they fought. That said, I'm now a believer. He is now the clear-cut top contender in the welterweight division.