UFC 154 was punctuated by many highs and lows within the Octagon.
Even though UFC 154 didn't have its usual sell-out reception from Canada, the Bell Centre still played host to plenty of highlights from the 12-fight card.
Of course, the spotlight saw returning champion George St. Pierre return to action by defeating the always-dangerous Carlos Condit and unifying the UFC welterweight title in a gritty war that left both men covered in blood.
GSP vs. Condit was easily the night's best fight, but the entire seven-hour stretch was punctuated by interesting moments throughout the entire card.
With the champion's return in the books, let's take a took back at the 12 most interesting, exciting, and memorable spots that took place this past Saturday night.
Darren Elkins ran a ground-and-pound clinic all over Steven Siler's face, but Siler admirably refused to let it get to him. Despite being on his back through most of the fight, Siler gave back nearly all the damage he took.
Things got especially nasty in the second round, where Siler fiercely upkicked Elkins straight across the face—possibly breaking Elkins' nose in the process. It looked painful, but Elkins shrugged it off and literally slapped Siler with a backhand that sounded like a gunshot.
Pictured: Ivan Menjivar (left)
Gashimov's youth and power had El Salvador's favorite son on his back early in the fight, but Menjivar never appeared to be in trouble. From maintaining a high, tight guard to dodging punches, the 34-fight veteran pulled off some amazing defense from his back.
Eventually, Gashimov's aggression came back to bite him, as Menjivar threw up an armbar finish that actually forced the Russian to flip on his stomach. It was a quick, snappy, beautiful submission that wound up earning "The Pride of El Salvador" a tidy Submission of the Night reward.
Tall, lanky Riddle flexed his stand-up game against Maguire early and often in the first round, showing a much more conservative pace than his previous fights. However, it still had its high points.
After getting a kick caught by Maguire, Riddle answered back with one of his best shots that fight, flipping in mid-air and nailing Maguire in the jaw with his other foot. As illegal as the fence grab was, it would've been the Octagon's first Flash Kick, had Riddle completed the flipping motion.
Pictured: Antonio Carvalho (black trunks), Darren Elkins (white trunks)
Three minutes in the second round of Carvalho's kickboxing match with Rodrigo Damm, he made a critical error and slipped to the mat. It was unintentional, but led to the most exciting moment of the fight.
What resulted was an amazing five-second scramble, as Damm smelled blood and quickly swarmed his opponent looking to implement his superior Jiu-Jitsu. Carvalho smartly fought for his life, though, pulling off an amazing sweep-and-roll to get back to his feet.
This fight was pretty much decided the moment Chad Griggs decided to attack Diabate's elbow with his face. From there on out, Mr. Muttonchops never recovered and Diabate punished him with follow-up shots on the feet.
But what shocked us all was the Frenchman outwrestling a desperate Griggs, kicking things off with a massive takedown. Diabate's training with Dan Henderson apparently paid off, as "The Snake" coiled his way to Griggs' back and forced a first-round submission.
Pictured: Alessio Sakara (right)
For a minute, it looked like Cote was going to put away his foe to massive applause—but then Sakara countered with hard uppercuts and sharp elbows, silencing the crowd.
That's when things got weird.
As Cote sunk to the ground after getting hit with elbows, Sakara started hammer-fisting the back of his opponent's head, raining down illegal blow after illegal blow. Referee Dan Mirgoliatta issued warnings, but inexplicably let the fight come to an end.
Thankfully, the officials ringside got it right. Cote won by disqualification, with the Canadian crowd vehemently booing Sakara every time the Italian appeared on camera.
It was a disappointing finish to a potentially exciting fight and Sakara (now 0-3 in his last three fights) seemed to desperately be seeking a win by any means. Having a loss like that on his record will surely bother him for days, if not weeks.
Pictured: Joe Rogan (right)
"Martin Kampmann comes from behind more often than Lance Bass."
Really, Joe Rogan? Out of all the great material you use in your podcasts and stand-up shows, you make a Lance Bass joke in 2012?
Pictured: Pablo Garza (right)
As soon as Garza realized he had the advantage on the ground, Hominick's fate was sealed. As the Canadian fished for submissions to no avail, the taller and lankier Garza battered his opponent from guard with potent, sharp elbows and solid punches.
Garza even pulled a few "Jon Jones-like" moves, shoving his forearm into Hominick's throat, covering his mouth, and generally using his long limbs to slice up "The Machine" through the last two rounds. Most frustrating was Hominick's dogged pursuit of the omoplata, as he even threw himself to the mat in the last round with nothing to show for his too-little-too-late submission attempt.
Pictured: Rafael dos Anjos (white trunks), Mark Bocek (black trunks)
Officially, this fight ended by a judge's decision, but it really ended with 1:25 left in the second round. After three grueling minutes of failed takedowns and shots to the face, Bocek found himself muscled to the floor by dos Anjos... and just gave up.
You could see it in Bocek's body language, as the Canadian heaved a deep sigh, let his arms drop and lied prone on the Octagon mat, making his head an unprotected target for three long seconds. Sure, dos Anjos didn't take advantage of it, but the rest of the fight was little more than a long, painful beating for the mentally and physically defeated Bocek.
Well, that headline pretty much sums it up. Hendricks tested the distance just long enough to gauge his shot and blasted Martin Kampmann with a fight-ending hook to the jaw.
Kampmann fell over like he'd been shot, and Hendricks punctuated the victory by begging the UFC for a chance at the UFC welterweight title, regardless of who won it that night. Don't worry "Bigg Rigg", you're undoubtedly next in line, no matter what happens.
It was the kick that almost defeated the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history. Georges St. Pierre controlled the pace of the fight for two rounds up to this point, outpointing Condit on the feet and wrestling the taller, stronger "Killer" to the ground with almost clinical precision.
Then Condit hit GSP flush across the head with a high left kick.
And it dropped the lineal champion.
From there, GSP went into survival mode, swaying out of harm's way on the ground and gluing himself to Condit's chest at tightly as possible while the clock ran down. It was the most tense moment in the entire bout, but GSP survived against all odds.
Condit may have lost his chance to end the fight in Round 3, but the massive welterweight still loomed over GSP in the final two rounds. By this point, cuts suffered from both champions had spilled torrents of blood, painting themselves and the Octagon in dark red tones.
By Round 5, Condit was desperate to make something happen, watching his welterweight title slip through his fingers. As a last-ditch effort, he even gave up his back and forced a scramble, despite to get to a dominant position.
Had the resulting rolls gone an inch one way or the other, GSP may have found himself in hot water. But as usual, the champion's ground superiority overcame Condit's best struggle.
GSP rolled with Condit, flipped himself over onto the challenger and took away every inch of space the "Killer" tried to give himself, sealing the fight with an unshakable top position that sunk the challenger's hopes. It was masterful wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu that definitively outlined the difference between a great welterweight fighter and the best damn welterweight mixed martial artist in the world.