Well, the main PPV card anyway. Some great fights, overall an interesting watch and a few surprises. I don't know how many of my readers are into this sport, so I won't belabor this topic too much, but I enjoyed myself. Oh, also, alert: spoilers, if you care.
Let's just consider the main fights.
I actually missed the fight between Ellenberger and Marquardt, which makes me very sad, because apparently it was a decent knockout. I'm a little shocked, honestly, because Marquardt is a tough guy with years of experience under his belt. It's a major statement to decimate him so quickly and decisively. This definitely puts Ellenberger, a former Marine, right up there to vie for title contention - defeating Marquardt, Hieron and Sanchez is nothing to be sniffed at. I think this guy deserves a chance at another top contender for sure; the question is, which one?
Speaking of WW top contenders, Johnny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit, which surprised me. To say Condit is "no slouch" would be a major understatement. Hendricks could validly be considered the next contender for the championship after this. Regardless of who won, though, the fight was excellent, and had it gone to further rounds, Condit seemed to be getting into a rhythm; things may have been different had Condit had more time.
Hendricks impressed the heck out of me. He showed incredible tenacity in close, surprisingly dangerous striking and excellent reactions, taking advantage of slight errors and punishing them accordingly.
Regardless, Hendricks is not ready to face GSP.
The main event match of UFC 158 was between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz for the welterweight championship. Personally, I've been psyched for this matchup for, well, months. At least.
Diaz is one of those fighters you either love or hate. He's extremely interesting to watch, whether fighting or trash-talking, and he's got some serious skills. Fans and experts underplayed his skills and strengths leading up to this fight, I feel, and I thought that he and Condit both had a relatively decent chance of defeating St-Pierre, if they played to their strengths.
As it turned out, it was a decent fight. Although St-Pierre clearly dominated his opponent from bell to bell, it took strategy and strength. Diaz's boxing skills are superb, even better than I expected, and he scored some nasty hits to GSP's face. And every punch that connects could be the one to knock a man out. He managed to inflict minor cuts and score some decent points with his boxing.
GSP, however, played mostly to his strengths. He stayed to the outside, scoring with his fluid yet oddly disruptive and deceptive "kickboxing", jabbing Diaz's face to pieces and scoring some truly impressive hits. Not to mention putting Diaz in his place when Diaz attempted a spinning kick (let's just say GSP does those much better... than almost anybody).
As expected, it was the Canadian's wrestling and overall excellence with grappling that carried him to such a nigh-flawless victory. Diaz was a threat when he was able to press forward and utilize his boxing within his optimum range - whenever he did, GSP would force him back into his range, or counter with implacable takedowns that lead to serious beatdowns.
I was glad to see GSP engage and try to win aggressively. He was still the cautious and calculated fighter I love him for, but he went out there and threw down. However, impressive, flashy techniques are unreliable, especially at this level, so the jab was infinitely more effective than any of those.
Make no mistake, though. Diaz impressed the shit out of me. At first, I discounted him (more than a year ago), but as time went by I started to realize he, and Condit, may honestly have a chance of dethroning the seemingly unstoppable St-Pierre. It turned out to only be a chance; GSP eliminated both of them, although not without effort. A little.
I had a young guest watching with us, and it seems GSP has won himself a new fan! One who'd never even heard of MMA before today. He was screaming "C'mon, Georges! Knock him out!" the entirety of the last round, gripping the sides of his seat (and me, weirdly enough; just, whatever was within reach, like an overly excited chimpanzee). Sadly, that didn't happen, but it was still a good match.
Excellent match, and Diaz was humble and respectful in defeat. As disrespectful and rude as he is during the pre-fight trash talking, he can fight and that's what matters. Tough bastard with deadly hands and submissions, and I'm crushed to hear he's considering retirement. And no I don't give a damn that he smokes pot and misses media events. He can fight and he's good at it. Smoke whatever you want, not my business.
Mais aussi… St Pierre? Vous êtes toujours le meilleur! Félicitations! J'espère vous voir combattre encore bientôt. Cette fois, je vous espère KO votre adversaire! Je sais que vous pouvez le faire!
(Holy CRAP, my French is slipping something awful...)
In other "news", the UFC released (i.e., fired and set adrift) some incredibly talented fighters that by all rights deserved to remain. If they can keep Chris Lytle and other fighters with a winning average of ~.50, as well as other "venerable" old fighters who are past their prime, it makes no sense whatsoever to release the indomitable Jon Fitch. I doubt Dana White will read this, ever, but make no mistake, Dana: doing this, releasing such an excellent fighter for such spurious reasons, means I as an MMA fan will start to follow this fighter as he goes to your competitors, other promoters. I lose respect for your company, and lose faith in how they treat their talented fighters, and I start to wonder if maybe there's great talent and entertainment in your competition. Think very carefully before you release a world-ranked top-10 elite former championship contender.
Got some excellent fights coming up, some very interesting matches. There's also a lot that I've missed. I guess it's time to get back in touch with the sport.
Of course, that assumes I have any feckin' time to myself.