UFC 158 Superlatives: Best and Worst from the Entire Fight Card
Georges St-Pierre performed as expected at UFC 158. Though he didn't hand Nick Diaz a brutal beating, the welterweight champion was dominant for five rounds en route to victory.
The Canadian has now won 10 consecutive UFC title fights and is moving closer to a superfight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva. However, for now, it appears another defense of his belt will be next against Johny Hendricks.
Hendricks also won on Saturday, beating former interim champion Carlos Condit in a Fight of the Night performance. On such an impressive run, Hendricks can no longer be denied a shot at the 170-pound championship.
From the main card to the Facebook prelims, UFC 158 was a big night for the welterweight division.
Looking beyond the 170-pound class, though, let's take a look at the best and worst from the entire event.
Best Fighter: Jake Ellenberger
Georges St-Pierre cruised to a decision win, and Johny Hendricks entertained in a wild scrap, but neither of them won as impressively as Jake Ellenberger at UFC 158.
Facing an opponent in Nate Marquardt who had only been stopped by Anderson Silva inside the Octagon, Ellenberger showed off his knockout power by backing the former Strikeforce champion into a corner and blasting away with hooks.
Though Ellenberger isn't far removed from a loss to Martin Kampmann, such a stunning finish of a veteran like Marquardt puts "The Juggernaut" back into title contention.
Worst Fighter: Nick Ring
Nick Ring took Chris Camozzi to a close split-decision finish, but that does not mean he fought well in his home country at UFC 158.
The Canadian out-landed Camozzi, but he did not land the more damaging blows and was more importantly led into a fight that benefited his opponent's style far more than his own. Camozzi has had trouble in the grappling department in the past. However, Ring only attempted one takedown during his three rounds inside the cage with Camozzi.
Had Ring entered the fight with a more grappling-focused game plan, the outcome of his fight with Camozzi may have been much different, and that's surprising considering he trains at the widely respected Tristar Gym.
Best Fight: Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit
After being taken down and controlled frequently in a title-merging fight with Georges St-Pierre, Carlos Condit faced a tough task against two-time NCAA champion wrestler Johny Hendricks.
While Hendricks was able to take Condit down multiple times at UFC 158, the former interim champion showed some major improvement in his escapes from the bottom. When he wasn't doing his best to get his back off of the canvas, Condit was moving forward and clashing with the heavy hitting Hendricks.
Although takedowns were certainly a part of Hendricks' game plan, the top welterweight contender was also not afraid to trade leather with his opponent. Hendricks landed his powerful punches multiple times, but the solid chin of Condit forced "Bigg Rigg" to diversify his attacks in order to win.
Worst Fight: Mike Ricci vs. Colin Fletcher
Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher weren't overly inactive in their UFC 158 bout, but they were handed the tough task of opening an impressive pay-per-view card as unproven TUF alumni.
Preceded by a welterweight slugfest between Patrick Cote and Bobby Voelker while being followed by three highly anticipated welterweight fights featuring contenders, there wasn't much Ricci and Fletcher could have done to please fans.
For the most part, the lightweights stood and did throw strikes with relative frequency. However, it was rare that Ricci or Fletcher landed multiple damaging shots in succession.
Things got interesting when Ricci took Fletcher's back in the final frame, but the bout was otherwise average on a fight card full of excellent fights.
Best Knockout: Jake Ellenberger
A number of impressive knockouts were showcased on the UFC 158 fight card.
T.J. Dillashaw, Rick Story, Jordan Mein and Darren Elkins all put their opponents away with strikes, but none did so in a bigger fight and with more barbarity than Jake Ellenberger.
As pointed out brilliantly by my colleague Jack Slack in his UFC 158 breakdown, Ellenberger was able to time Nate Marquardt's telegraphed kicks with powerful punching combinations. When he was eventually able to score with one of those combinations with Marquardt cornered, Ellenberger finished the fight in spectacular fashion by landing a nasty right hand.
Best Submission: None
For the second straight UFC event, no Submission of the Night award was handed out.
There were some close calls, with Dan Miller nearly catching Jordan Mein in an armbar and multiple fighters looking to sink in rear-naked chokes from their opponents' backs. However, not one fighter was forced to tap at UFC 158, saving the promotion $50,000 in bonus money.
Despite his close call, Mein was able to circle out of Miller's submission attempt and ended up winning with a combination of precision strikes while standing.
Best Moment: Johny Hendricks
Johny Hendricks has been near the front of the line for a welterweight title shot for quite some time, but a matchup with the highly skilled Carlos Condit put that chance in serious jeopardy.
With his hard-fought victory over Condit at UFC 158, Hendricks finally emerged as the unquestioned top contender in the 170-pound division.
While Condit is a very talented fight and classy competitor, it's hard not to feel good about Hendricks finally getting the opportunity he's deserved.
Worst Moment: Yves Lavigne
Yves Lavigne has refereed many big fights over the years. Like many sports officials, he's had his good moments and bad moments.
In the opening round of a preliminary card bout between Darren Elkins and Antonio Carvalho, Lavigne had one of those bad moments.
Carvalho was rocked by Elkins' punches and dropped for a second time when a right hand landed to his head. However, Lavigne did not allow things to play out following that right hand that buckled Carvalho's legs. Though Carvalho bounced right back to his feet, Lavigne had already called a stop to the fight almost immediately after the punch landed.
It's not a bad thing for a referee to error on the side of caution when it comes to fighter safety, but the livelihood of these competitors often depends on their results inside the cage, so it's probably safe to assume Carvalho would've preferred eating an extra shot or two if it meant a chance to recover for a few more seconds.