The UFC celebrated its 20th anniversary with the biggest star in the sport's history defending his welterweight title in front of a star-studded audience that included a bevy of UFC Hall of Famers and celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The theme of the evening, of the entire event promotion, was evolution. Much was written, and even more said, about how far the sport had come in the last two decades. And the man who, perhaps, exemplified that more than any other is long-time champion Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre has made a career out of being able to do it all. Off his back, he has the submission game to keep any opponent honest. Standing he can outstrike almost any grappler with a solid jab and a variety of kicks. And, should he fall short standing, he's shown an ability to take almost anyone to the mat. It's a combination of talents that has made him very successful—and very rich.
None of that seemed like it was enough against Johny Hendricks, the two-time NCAA champion with the killer left hand. Hendricks beat St-Pierre standing and controlled the wrestling en route to very nearly winning the welterweight championship.
Hendricks cut St-Pierre early, then wobbled him with a left uppercut in the second round. The remainder of the fight was closely contested, with St-Pierre using volume striking and Hendricks relying on power and the occasional takedown.
In the end, judges sided with the champion in a split decision. The crowd rained boos on St-Pierre as he had his hand raised. Although he may not have felt like a winner, or, with his battered and bruised face looked like one, St-Pierre reigned supreme.
As the broadcast went off the air St-Pierre seemingly retired in the cage, saying he had business in his personal life that he needs to take care off. It was unclear whether that was a retirement or a sabbatical of sorts, as the champion used language that hinted at an eventual return.
It was a crazy night, one in which St-Pierre was not the only winner. I looked at every televised fight to share my thoughts and the real winners and losers on the night.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments.