Before Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz graced the Octagon for UFC 158's main event of the evening, top welterweight contenders Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks competed in a wild affair that has to be considered as an early candidate for Fight of the Year.
Both guys entered the match with a reputation for finishing, and even though this one made it the distance, it was not for lack of aggression on the part of either fighter.
As per usual, Hendricks came out looking for his killer left hook, while Condit was submission hunting, and throwing knees and kicks with bad intentions. That either fighter survived the other's onslaught is a testament to their respective skills.
When we look at the fight from a technical perspective, it's clear what the difference-maker was—Hendricks' wrestling. Sure, he gave pretty good on the feet, but after the first it was Condit getting the better of the exchanges for the most part.
It was just that every time Condit landed one of his knees or kicks, Hendricks scooped him up and slammed him right down. He didn't do much when he had him down, but it was enough to get him two rounds on all of the judges' scorecards.
The fight began with a typical Hendricks explosion, and for a second there, it looked like we might see a repeat of his destruction of Martin Kampmann. Condit recovered, however, and landed some of his own shots, including a hard knee-cross combo.
After the chaos of the opening melee settled, Hendricks began his wrestling dominance, dumping Condit. Condit immediately began threatening from his back though, and Hendricks had to play defense. That would prove a theme for the rest of the fight.
The capacity crowd hurrahed the action at the end of the first round, and for good reason. It was a wild battle with both combatants doing lots of damage.
Round 2 began with Hendricks resuming his search for that big left hook, and once again going to his wrestling when Condit survived. In this sense, it mirrored the first frame.
Condit once again did some damage on the feet and stifled Hendricks on the mat, but the very fact that he was on the mat would prove detrimental in the end.
After the second round, Hendricks told his corner that his left hand was likely broken, but he entered the third winging it with little regard. It didn't do him much good, however, as Condit began finding his range more and more, and gained a decisive advantage in the exchanges.
The third frame was Condit's best, but it simply wasn't enough. Hendricks' superior wrestling and strength edge ensured that he could halt his opponent anytime the action began going south, and that's just what he did.
In a way, Condit looked like the more impressive fighter tonight, but he had one fatal flaw and Hendricks was intelligent enough to exploit it.
It wasn't Hendricks' most impressive win, but it was an outstanding fight, one he was able to pull out almost entirely on the strength of a powerful double-leg takedown.