Many thought Carlos Condit would be the toughest test in Georges St-Pierre’s career, and in some respects he was. But in a strikingly similar outcome to almost every St-Pierre fight in the last five years, Condit looked like just another opponent.
In a five round decision that saw GSP retain his welterweight championship, the Canadian put all doubts to rest as to who the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history is. Despite Condit’s best attempt at a shocking upset mid-way through the fight, the resilient French Canadian put on an epic display of heart and put on a fight that many pundits questioned if he still could muster.
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Ring rust didn’t seem to be an issue on Saturday night, despite St-Pierre thinking otherwise: “People talk about ring rust; I definitely know what it is now. Credit to Carlos, he gave me my toughest fight ever.” When questioned about his potentially damaged knee, he quickly brushed aside any talk of any lingering effects, ““Not at all. I would have never fought if my knee wasn’t one hundred percent. “
GSP wasted no time in putting the stamp on his octagon mat, and crowded “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit with no delay. Round one saw a fresh and lightning quick St-Pierre pressuring Condit, establishing his range, and putting Condit on his heels.
In what looked like a surprising reincarnation of the ’10 version of St-Pierre, the Canadian utterly dominated the first two rounds with unrelenting top control and a varied assault of strike and feigns — it was all GSP.
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Just as it seemed the narrative had been written for the rest of the Condit-St-Pierre story, round three saw a twist; a twist in the form of a Condit high kick that sent his opponent falling backwards, crumpling, and visibly cross eyed.
As GSP fell to the canvas after Condit’s Street Fighter-esque high kick, the MMA world stood in collective shock as visions of the Matt Serra loss in 2007 danced in their heads. In an amazing twist of fate, GSP somehow outlasted Condit’s ensuing barrage and actually managed to reverse the tide of the round and arguably win It [two judges scored the fight 50-45 GSP, so…].
St-Pierre later said about the kick that almost ended his five-year title reign, ““I didn’t see the kick. I think in the round before, I got punched and my eyes were a little blurry. So, it was hard for me to see. What you don’t see is what can hurt you most and I didn’t see that. “
Later, a post-fight Condit was still stunned that the kick didn’t finish off the hardened Canadian, “I thought I had it. He was still coherent, but I was gonna go in there and put some leather and finish it off. That didn’t happen.”
The rest of the fight was a splendid display of warrior-like combat, which in the end left both fighters swollen, battered and bruised. Unfortunately for Condit, despite his greatest effort and a fight for the ages, he couldn’t pull out the win against the welterweight kingpin.
A defeated Condit later praised St-Pierre and his now-legendary set of skills: “His top game was very, very good. He was able to hold me down better than I expected. I thought I could create more scrambles, and I just couldn’t manage do that.”
Post-fight questions loomed of a potential superfight between middleweight champion Anderson Silva meeting St-Pierre at a catchweight. When questioned about the possible matchup, St-Pierre deflected sullenly and said, ““I want to make sure I make the right choices for me, my career, the fans and the UFC… I’ll talk to my management and we’ll decide.”
Not exactly pulling at the enticing heartstrings of the public, are we Georges?
Have no fear fans, at the post-fight presser UFC President Dana White made it very clear it was going to be a priority, and each fighter would have little say in the matter, “I’ll make the fight. There won’t be any epic negotiation. They’re both under contract.”
Whether Silva lay on the horizon, or not; now is not the time for that discussion. Now is the time to bask in the redeeming performance of St-Pierre. Yes, he still managed to not finish another opponent, but the perseverance the Canadian showed, and the viciousness of his performance, once again supplanted him among the top of the pound-for-pound discussions.
19-month layoff be damned.