UFC 167: 5 Reasons to Watch

Image: UFC champion Georges St-Pierre (© Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports)
Honorable mention: Lumped up Georges St-Pierre is still more handsome than we are.
FOX Sports E. Spencer Kyte
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The UFC’s run of outstanding pay-per-view events headlined by compelling championship match-ups continues this weekend as welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre puts his title on the line against No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.

With a tremendous main event and a collection of quality fights hitting the cage before it, you’re not going to want to miss the action inside the Octagon this weekend.

Need more convincing? You’ve come to the right place.

Here are 5 Reasons to watch UFC 167.

The Legacy of GSP

Love him or hate him (or feel completely indifferent about him), Georges St-Pierre currently stands as the longest reigning champion in the UFC, and with a victory over Johny Hendricks on Saturday, “Rush” would add another entry into his storied career.

St-Pierre has logged 11 consecutive victories and eight straight successful title defenses, two shy of Anderson Silva’s UFC record. A victory over Hendricks puts him one back of “The Spider,” and though he’s a polarizing figure amongst fight fans, retaining his title and further closing the gap on Silva makes the conversation for the greatest of all-time a little more interesting.

And what comes next?

The French-Canadian superstar hinted at having big plans for the future in a recent interview with Sportsnet’s “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, which could mean anything from a change in weight class to hanging up is four-ounce gloves for a permanent move to Hollywood.

With those kinds of diverse possibilities, how could you not tune in?

Can Hendricks Keep Rolling?

Johny Hendricks waited his turn and kept piling up victories, running his winning streak to six by outlasting Carlos Condit at UFC 158 back in March. After the decision was announced, “Bigg Rigg” took to the microphone and pleaded to finally get his chance to fight for the welterweight title.

Hendricks gets his chance to wrestle the welterweight title away from GSP Saturday night, and having watched one long-reigning champion be dethroned earlier this year, it’s far from unthinkable that the heavy-handed Division I National Champion wrestler from Oklahoma State could duplicate Chris Weidman’s feat from July.

With his pedigree on the wrestling mats, Hendricks has – at least on paper – the ability to neutralize what has been St-Pierre’s greatest weapon in the cage during his title reign. If “Rush” can’t run through a double leg and put Hendricks on the canvas, will the champion be able to go 25 minutes avoiding the blistering left hand that felled Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch during Hendricks’ climb into contention?

The Return of The Bad Guy

Any time Chael Sonnen steps in the cage, it garners attention, but the build up to his bout with former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans on Saturday has been muted in comparison to his previous string of appearances.

Where’s the trash talk? Where are the promises of blistering knockouts? Where’s the Chael Sonnen we’ve come to know and love – or loathe – over these last few years?

The crazy twist in all this is that a win over Evans would position Sonnen as a legitimate contender in the light heavyweight division, but it would be a moot point anyway, as the next appearance of “The Bad Guy” is already booked, which takes some of the intrigue away from Saturday’s co-main event.

For the first time in more than three years, a Chael Sonnen fight isn’t a major production, and that feels strange… and could lead to brash, boisterous wrestler upstaging everyone at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.

The Continued Ascension of Rory MacDonald

He’s been heralded as “the next one” in the welterweight division from the time he arrived in the UFC a little under four years, and Saturday night, Rory MacDonald gets the opportunity to take another step towards the top of the weight class with an electric match-up against resurgent veteran Robbie Lawler.

MacDonald has won five straight, but is coming off a tactical, tepid win over Jake Ellenberger in the summer. Like his friend and training partner GSP, he’s been criticized for his strategic approach in the cage, and many believe this pairing with the ultra-aggressive Lawler has been set up in an effort to draw the best out of the young Canadian.

With a victory on Saturday, the 24-year-old “Ares” with position himself within reach of a title shot, at which point he’ll be forced to answer more questions about a potential pairing opposite GSP, should he retain his title.

Regardless of the outcome of the main event, UFC 167 has the potential to be a real coming out party for MacDonald, a fighter many believe is capable of being a standout in the Octagon for the organization forward, and if his bout with Lawler plays out the way everyone expects it to, you’re not going to want to miss the fireworks show.

Future Star Alert

When a fighter comes along that has the potential to a champion in the future, we’re obligated to inform you, faithful readers, of their arrival.

This weekend at UFC 167, a young talent with a familiar last name will make his debut in the Octagon, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if you see him climbing the rankings quickly and challenging for championship gold sooner, rather than later.

Sergio Pettis, the 20-year-old younger brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, hits the cage for the first time, squaring off with short notice returnee Will Campuzano in a bantamweight contest.

Unbeaten through the first nine fights of his career, “The Phenom” has looked like a slightly smaller duplicate of his big brother, showcasing the same explosive striking game crafted under Duke Roufus that has carried the elder Pettis to the top of the lightweight division.

Though relegated to the untelevised portion of Saturday’s event, expect the younger half of the UFC’s latest brother tandem to make an impact in his debut bout, and maybe even put together the kind of impressive finish that lands him a replay on Fox Sports 1 or the pay-per-view show itself.

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