The Ultimate Fighting Championship celebrated its 20th anniversary with the UFC 167 fight card, and it turned out to be an entertaining affair.
The event was held on Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., and the main event lived up to the hype thanks to Johny Hendricks’ praise-worthy performance which almost brought an end to Georges St. Pierre’s long reign as the UFC’s welterweight champ.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the UFC 167 fight card:
1. Johny Hendricks
“Bigg Rigg” gave GSP his toughest test since his 2007 loss to Matt Serra, landing many hard shots on the Canadian, mixing in some takedowns, holding his own in the clinch against the longest reigning welterweight champion in UFC history.
Unfortunately for Hendricks, the judges — correctly — scored the bout 48-47 in GSP’s favor, adding his name to GSP’s long list of victims.
2. Georges St. Pierre
GSP deserves a lot of credit for the gutsy performance he turned in at UFC 167. He ate several hard shots that would have dropped lesser men, and he kept his composure throughout the fight even though things weren’t always going his way.
St. Pierre closed out the fight well like a champion should, and that turned out to be the difference maker, earning 48-47 scores from two of the three Octagon-side judges, while the third had the same score in Hendricks’ favor.
Unfortunately for GSP, his victory was a bit tainted, since many, myself included, initially scored the fight 48-47 in Hendricks’ favor. However, after watching the bout again, I was forced to admit we all were wrong, scoring the fight 48-47 in GSP’s favor (1/3/5) second time around.
It came down to down to the first round where Hendricks hurt GSP a few times, while the latter dominated based on control and effective striking.
3. Robbie Lawler
“Ruthless” passed another tough test at UFC 167, handing Rory MacDonald his second loss inside the Octagon. With the win, Lawler takes another giant step up the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight rankings, and it should be enough to earn him — at the very least — a number one contender bout.
4. Rashad Evans
Many MMA fans questioned Evans’ mental state heading into UFC 167, given his lackadaisical performances against Dan Henderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. However, “Suga” made it clear he still has a little bit left in his tank, mauling Chael Sonnen during the co-main event, bringing the contest to an end with some vicious shots on the ground at 4:05 of round one.
Notable mentions: Tyron Woodley, Donald Cerrone, Rick Story, Sergio Pettis.
1. Chael Sonnen
With the loss to Evans, Sonnen has now lost three of his last four fights, and, even with his gift of gab, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever be able to talk himself into a title shot again. Rashad brutalized Sonnen in a way that had never been done before, outwrestling the Portland native, blasting away with hard shots from back-mount until referee Herb Dean stepped in and saved Sonnen from further punishment.
2. Dana White
UFC president Dana White displayed his lack of respect for his fighters, once again, after GSP announced he’d be taking a break from MMA following his win against Hendricks, throwing the Canadian under the bus during the post-fight press conference, similarly to the way he did Jon Jones after the UFC 151 fiasco last year, the same way he turned against Anderson Silva after his 2010 bout against Demian Maia.
For those hoping MMA will one day reach the mainstream popularity of leagues like the NBA or NFL, don’t hold your breath. The kids who are physically gifted enough to compete in those organizations will never — and I mean ever — give up the financial security those sports offer for significantly lower wages and an egotistical boss who’s shortsighted enough to turn on his greatest assets at the slightest hint of defiance.
3. Rory MacDonald
MacDonald would have probably won his UFC 167 bout against Lawler with an appropriate came plan, but he clearly wasn’t prepared for Lawler’s aggression. Fortunately for MacDonald, he’s still one of the most promising welterweights in the UFC, so he’ll back in contention sooner rather than later.