Highway Robbery: GSP gets battered, yet wins split decision

Published on Sunday, 11/17/13, at 6:54 p.m. Eastern. .

By Brian Edwards

One fighter was bloodied and battered following Saturday’s main event at UFC 167 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. That same fighter was talking about retirement and clearly didn’t want anything to do with his opponent again anytime soon.

His name is Georges ‘Rush’ St-Pierre, the long-time welterweight kingpin who somehow got the nod from the judges in a split-decision win (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) over Johny Hendricks.

BrianEdwardsSports.com scored it 48-47 for Hendricks, who was a +190 underdog at most betting shops. Gamblers backing the challenger had to be furious. The ‘over’ (4.5 rounds) cashed tickets.

I gave Hendricks the first, second and fourth rounds. The third and fifth were close, but I thought GSP earned those stanzas by a slim margin.

Hendricks left the Octagon without a scratch, but St-Pierre looked like he had been jumped by an angry mob in the alley.

UFC President Dana White was irate about the unfathomable decision, and who could blame him? Hendricks was in control from start to finish. He nearly finished the champion in the fourth when he rocked him with a series of combinations.

White told the media, “There is no controversy. Johny Hendricks won that fight. Georges got his ass kicked tonight. [The decision] makes me sick.”

GSP vaguely spoke of a personal problem that was going to prompt him to take a break from the sport, but White downplayed that notion after meeting with GSP for 15 minutes after the post-fight presser. White indicated that Hendricks would get a rematch in the not-too-distant future.

GSP is now 20-2 in his UFC career and owns the promotion’s career record for victories, but this record-breaking win should always have an asterisk next to it. How do we know? Because the cuts and bruises on GSP’s face told us.

In the co-main event, Rashad Evans produced his best performance in several years. The former light heavyweight champion scored a first-round knockout win over Chael Sonnen as a -180 favorite.

Evans tied the record for most wins in the 205-pound loop with 13 after finishing Sonnen in ground-and-pound fashion at the 4:05 mark of the opening round. Evans will face a top-five contender next, while Sonnen will coach on The Ultimate Fighter again opposite of Wanderlei Silva. After settling matters with Silva, Sonnen will most likely drop back down to the middleweight division.

Robbie Lawler put himself in the mix for the welterweight title by improving to 3-0 in his second tour of duty in the UFC. Lawler won a split decision (29-28, 28-29 and 29-28) over Rory MacDonald as a +300 underdog.

Lawler could get the winner of Matt Brown-Carlos Condit, while MacDonald could meet a number of different guys like Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann or the Condit-Brown loser. MacDonald suffered just his second career loss that ended a five-fight winning streak that dated back to his defeat vs. Condit at UFC 115. (At least we won’t have to listen to the He & Georges won’t fight scenario again anytime soon!)

Tyron Woodley earned KO of the Night honors with his knockout of Josh Koscheck late in the first round. Woodley was a -125 ‘chalk.’ The 35-year-old Koscheck hinted at retirement after his third straight loss.

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone scored a submission victory over Evan Dunham in the second round. Cerrone hooked up his betting supporters as a -130 favorite. This was my top recommendation for bettors and I also picked Lawler.

Thales Leites, Rick Story and Sergio Pettis (yes, Anthony’s brother) also recorded impressive victories on the undercard.

Fight of the Night went to Hendricks-GSP. A report Monday from TMZ suggested that GSP’s personal problems are an unplanned pregnancy and his father’s health, but that report has not been confirmed.

There were a few media members who gave the decision to GSP, including my man Adam Hill at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But Hill was certainly in the minority and some, including Hall of Famer Matt Hughes and GSP’s friend and former training partner Condit, confidently called the decision the worst in mixed martial arts history.

That might be a slight stretch, especially since I only had it three rounds to two, but considering the stakes and ramifications, it’s not too far of a leap. The bottom line is that Hendricks won the fight, deserved to have Dana wrap that belt around his waist but yet left the building without the hardware. And that’s a damn shame.

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