On the night of the UFC’s 20th anniversary, Georges St-Pierre earned a controversial split decision victory over Johny Hendricks to cap off UFC 167 and a few moments later he walked away from the UFC saying it was time to take a much needed break from the sport.
The five round bout was an instant classic in terms of the action that took place inside the cage with both St-Pierre and Hendricks bringing the absolute best out of each other over the course of 25 minutes.
The fight started as so many of St-Pierre’s past bouts have began with the champion launching a quick and powerful double leg takedown to put Hendricks on his butt. This time, however, the position was short lived as the former two-time NCAA champion got right back to his feet and ended up putting St-Pierre down utilizing his own wrestling game.
The second round saw the most definitive action of the fight as Hendricks connected flush with a combination of punches that staggered St-Pierre. In the scramble, Hendricks was gunning for the shot that would finally put the belt around his waist and end St-Pierre’s reign, but the champion was crafty and elusive enough to survive the onslaught. As the round wore on both fighters were noticeably winded and looked up at the clock to see how much time remained, but it was Hendricks who appeared to be the worse for wear when it came to conditioning.
St-Pierre took advantage in the third with his first overwhelming round of the fight, but the fourth saw the momentum shift again with Hendricks coming back with a takedown attack of his own. Hendricks put St-Pierre down and started to land some solid inside elbows that carved up the champion’s face, but inexplicably with the control in his favor the challenge stood up and allowed the fight to get back on the feet.
The fifth round saw St-Pierre come charging back again putting together his best combinations of the fight, rattling Hendricks at a couple of different points as the seconds started to tick away towards the end. St-Pierre’s wrestling was finally utilized in the final minutes as he put Hendricks down, although he couldn’t maintain position with the Oklahoma State alum still popping back up each time.
The final horn sounded as the thousands in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena stood on their feet celebrating an unforgettable main event to cap off UFC 167. When the judges scorecards were returned the final tallies read 48-47, 48-47, 47-48 with the split decision victory landing in the corner of the reigning and defending UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
A loud chorus of boos echoed throughout the arena as Hendricks dropped to his knees, bowing his head wondering how he wasn’t leaving Las Vegas as the new UFC welterweight champion. When St-Pierre finally took to the microphone, he admits that there are parts of the fight that he doesn’t remember but ultimately he does believe he did enough to win.
"I was not surprised. I lost a little bit of memory of what happened. I want to take my hat off to Johny Hendricks, my toughest opponent so far," St-Pierre said.
Obviously Hendricks didn’t agree with the champion, and UFC commentator Joe Rogan said he also scored the fight in favor of the challenger when the bout was over. Hendricks, visibly upset, had very little to say outside of the fact that he believes he should be champion.
"I thought I clearly won the fight," Hendricks stated. "Did you guys see the same fight I just fought? Pretty sure I won."