UFC 167 takes place Saturday night, one of the biggest events of the year for the UFC. In the main event, the UFC’s top star attraction and longtime welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre defends his welterweight title against one of his most dangerous challengers in recent memory, Johny Hendricks. Hendricks’ elite wrestling and knockout power present a formidable challenge for the French Canadian champion. In the semi-main event of the evening, broadcast partners Chael Sonnen and Rashad Evans will fight for their positioning in the light heavyweight pecking order. This is also the UFC’s 20th anniversary show, as the first UFC show took place 20 years ago this week.
UFC welterweight title: Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks
St-Pierre is one of the greatest champions in UFC history. He combines elite athleticism and work ethic with a dynamic and well-rounded game. He has dominated the welterweight division, one of the sport’s best, since capturing the title from Matt Serra over five years ago. Hendricks is an elite wrestler, a two time NCAA Division 1 national champion. In MMA, he has added a dangerous striking game with big knockout power. He is also a big game performer, having been an elite athlete since a child.
Round 1. Hendricks moves in and St-Pierre takes him down. St-Pierre looks for a guillotine choke but can’t get it. They return to the feet where St-Pierre throws some knees to the body. They are separated. Hendricks lunges in with an uppercut and St-Pierre looks for the takedown again. He grabs a single leg but Hendricks defends well from there. St-Pierre eats a series of elbows to the head as he looks for a takedown against the cage. Hendricks reverses St-Pierre and presses the champion against the cage. Hendricks dumps St-Pierre to the canvas with a takedown at the midpoint of the round. However, St-Pierre stands up within 15 seconds. They separate and Hendricks charges in with power punches. None comes close to landing. St-Pierre hits a head kick that does connect solidly. St-Pierre is bleeding very lightly from near his right eye. From the clinch, St-Pierre lands some more knees to the body. They separate and St-Pierre throws a few kicks high and low. Hendricks answers with a power punch of his own and the round concludes. Very tough round to score. 10-9 St-Pierre.
Round 2. St-Pierre opens with a low kick. He follows with some additional low kicks when Hendricks doesn’t check the first. Hendricks moves forward with heavy punches but St-Pierre is able to avoid them for the most part. Hendricks does it again and he clips St-Pierre. St-Pierre is hurt and he has to clinch. Hendricks goes back to work with the big storms of punches and they come in with such fury directed at the champion’s chin that it looks like the fight could be ended at any moment. The fighters trade leg kicks. St-Pierre’s face is already marked up. St-Pierre throws a few jabs to try to keep the challenger at bay. St-Pierre mixes in some hooks and some straight rights as well. Hendricks when he comes in will mix uppercuts, overhands and hooks. St-Pierre lands a nice head kick and jab. The champion is landing more but the challenger is landing harder. St-Pierre clinches in the final 15 seconds and they trade shots to the body as the time runs out on the second frame. 10-9 Hendricks.
Round 3. Hendricks misses an uppercut but connects with a hook at the start. St-Pierre goes to work with his jab. St-Pierre adds some leg kicks. Hendricks charges in looking for a big shot but is countered with a few jabs, the perfect deterrent to Hendricks’ power. Hendricks starts throwing jabs of his own. The crowd, which has gone back and forth between chanting for GSP and for Hendricks, returns to loudly chanting “GSP.” Hendricks ducks down a big to appear to tease a takedown and then fires in a power shot at the chin of St-Pierre. Hendricks doesn’t appear winded but his pace has slowed and with it, St-Pierre has done better at dictating the tempo and controlling with his jab. Hendricks, however, fires back with a hard straight punch, perhaps the best of the round thus far. Hendricks looks for a takedown in the final minute of the round. St-Pierre is pushed up against the cage and Hendricks secures the takedown with 30 seconds left. Hendricks lands some punches from the top and St-Pierre stands back up at the end of the round. 10-9 St-Pierre, 29-28 St-Pierre through three. However, the clearest round of the fight was Hendricks in the second.
Round 4. St-Pierre starts the round again trying to establish his jab. He isn’t doing much obvious damage to Hendricks but he lands a lot more. Hendricks catches off balance and shoves St-Pierre down as he lands a punch. A minute and a half into the round, he begins throwing punches and elbows from top position. He drops some elbows from close range while stacking St-Pierre near the cage. Then, halfway through the round, Hendricks backs up and lets St-Pierre stand up. That may prove to be a massive strategic mistake. He was winning the round and now the round is up for grabs. St-Pierre is bleeding badly from the face, presumably from an elbow. St-Pierre lands a straight right and then looks for a takedown of his own. Hendricks fairly easily reverses St-Pierre against the cage and looks to take St-Pierre back down. St-Pierre reverses against the cage and then Hendricks does again. 10-9 Hendricks, 38-38 going into the final round.
Round 5. The fighters exchange jabs and then St-Pierre goes for a takedown. He pulls Hendricks’ leg away from the cage and then looks to get Hendricks off balance. Hendricks bounces on one foot back towards the cage and St-Pierre then pulls him back to the middle. Finally, St-Pierre gives it up and Hendricks pushes in for a takedown with less than four minutes remaining in the fight. Hendricks looks for a standing kimura but doesn’t come close. St-Pierre lands some solid punches and then takes Hendricks down two minutes in. The crowd erupts. Hendricks quickly moves to stand back up. Hendricks stands up and St-Pierre presses him against the cage. The referee breaks them with two minutes left. St-Pierre moves in, lands a straight right, and goes for another takedown with one minute left. He gets it but Hendricks stands back up. Hendricks then pushes St-Pierre against the cage and goes for one final takedown as the round comes to an end with the crowd cheering loudly. 10-9 St-Pierre, 48-47 St-Pierre. Both men celebrate. The two most clear rounds of the fight were Hendricks winning rounds 2 and 4 but you’ve got to score each round individually and I had St-Pierre winning 1, 3 and 5 narrowly.
Winner: Georges St-Pierre, split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).
St-Pierre after the fight says he will hang up his tights for a little while to deal with personal issues. He doesn’t explicitly say that he is retiring but that he will be gone for a period. Hendricks says that he thought he clearly won the fight.
Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler
MacDonald is one of the best young fighters in all the sport and is closing in on the top of the division. The only thing keeping him from a title shot is his close personal relationship with Georges St-Pierre. Lawler has fought in big fights for over a decade and comes into this fight with consecutive wins over Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker.
Round 1. Lawler lands a couple leg kicks early. The crowd loudly chants “Rory.” MacDonald looks for a takedown but quickly abandons it when Lawler reacts well. Both men are throwing a lot of kicks. Neither man is landing a lot of kicks. Lawler presses forward and tries to line up some power punches near the cage but MacDonald circles out of the corner before Lawler can capitalize on the position. MacDonald catches Lawler’s leg and throws a few punches. Tentative round. 10-9 Lawler.
Round 2. MacDonald presses forward aggressively and lands a kick before backing up. He lands another head kick a little later but continues to show a lot of respect for Lawler’s power. MacDonald uses a nice straight punch that connects to the chin of Lawler. MacDonald works some shots to the body and takes Lawler down with two minutes left in the round. Lawler starts to stand up but MacDonald prevents him from doing so. Still, MacDonald isn’t able to do any damage from the top. Finally, with 20 seconds left, MaDonald opens up with a series of elbows. 10-9 MacDonald.
Round 3. Lawler appears to stun MacDonald a little with a punch and follows with a hard uppercut. As he moves in with big punches, MacDonald drops down and takes Lawler down. MacDonald does little and the fight is stood up. Lawler lands a nice overhand. MacDonald goes for a takedown but in the scramble Lawler ends up on top and throws some wild punches that bloody MacDonald up. The fighters return to the feet and MacDonald lands another big punch. MacDonald goes for a takedown but can’t get it. Lawler drops MacDonald with a big left hand and looks to finish on the ground. MacDonald survives but Lawler gets side control. MacDonald briefly gets half guard but then loses it. MacDonald goes for an armbar but can’t get it and they return to their feet. MacDonald gets a takedown and lands a few elbows at the close of the fight. He really pours it on at the end with the crowd going nuts. 10-9 Lawler, 29-28 Lawler.
Winner: Robbie Lawler, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Chael Sonnen vs. Rashad Evans
Sonnen has turned himself into one of the biggest stars in MMA with his trash talking and late career performance surge. After losses to champions Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, he appeared to be a man without direction. But a nice submission win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and a rivalry with Wanderlei Silva breathed new breath into his career and a win here over Rashad Evans could spell big things for the Oregonian in 2014. Evans is one of the best light heavyweight fighters in UFC history, but he has stumbled after losing a title fight with former friend Jon Jones. Evans struggled against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and somewhat against Dan Henderson. Now, he looks to get his career back on track against a colorful and well known opponent.
Round 1. Sonnen immediately goes for a takedown. The fighters grapple for position up against the cage. Upon separation, they exchange hooks from close range. Both men land in the flurry and they return to the clinch.Evans finally gets a takedown halfway through the round. Evans begins throwing punches from top position. Sonnen tries to get up and eats some more punches. Evans begins opening up in the final 90 seconds and gets mount position. He continues firing down punches with Sonnen just covering up and Sonnen taps from the strikes.
Winner: Rashad Evans, submission, round 1.
Tyron Woodley vs. Josh Koscheck
Koscheck has been one of the UFC’s more well-known fighters since his stint on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. In his mid 30s and coming off a brutal knockout loss to Robbie Lawler, he needs a big performance to prove his continuing relevancy in the sport. Woodley is a rising star who suffered a setback in a disappointing last fight against Jake Shields but who has as much talent as anyone in the welterweight division.
Round 1. Woodley drops Koscheck with a punch. Koscheck recovers and presses Woodley against the cage. They are eventually separated and upon break, they trade heavy punches. Woodley connects again with hard punches on Koscheck and looks to finish on the ground. He drops some vicious punches on the ground but Koscheck is somehow able to survive as referee Herb Dean moves in real close to check on Koscheck’s condition. Dean eventually stands the fight back up. Woodley drops Koscheck with another hard right punch and more brutal punches on the ground. That finally brings the fight to a close.
Winner: Tyron Woodley, KO, round 1.
Tim Elliott vs. Ali Bagautinov
Elliott is a young flyweight with a 2-1 UFC record. Bagautinov is a Russian power puncher who won impressively in his UFC debut. In a weak and thin flyweight division, the winner could find himself on the verge of a title shot.
Round 1. Elliott moves in sticking out his chin. Bagautinov looks to time a power punch. Elliott clinches and eats a knee to the body. Bagautinov follows with a solid hook. Elliott moves in and gets caught with another counterpunch. Elliott connects with a good hook but is countered with a hard knee to the head. Elliott moves in but Bagautinov pushes him aside and briefly takes him down. Elliott gets right back up and takes a knee to the body in the process. Bagautinov lands a straight right punch and avoids a leaping front kick. Bagautinov has a takedown stuffed but lands a few punches and head kick at the close. 10-9 Bagautinov.
Round 2. Elliott continues to walk forward and seems unintimidated by the Russian’s power, but Bagautinov is landing the better punches. Elliott grabs a guillotine choke that seems pretty deep. Bagautinov finally pops his head out. Elliott takes top position on the ground and lands some punches from there. Bagautinov gets up and lands a front kick. Bagautinov follows with an overhand right. Elliott keeps walking him down. Elliott hits Bagautinov with a nice straight punch up the middle and begins to establish his jab. Elliott goes for a takedown but has it blocked. 10-9 Elliott.
Round 3. Bagautinov lands a couple punches up the middle and Elliott answers with a few of his own. Elliott continues to walk forward, throwing out his jab to lead in. Bagautinov lands a series of power shots right to the jaw of Elliott. Elliott lunges in with some punches. Bagautinov ducks out of the way and connects with a pair of counters. Bagautinov lands a grazing head kick but has his takedown stuffed. Elliott throws down Bagautinov and lands a knee at the close of the round. 10-9 Bagautinov, 29-28 Bagautinov.
Winner: Ali Bagautinov, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante
Donovan is an 8-3 prospect with a win and a loss in the UFC. Villante is a training partner of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and a Strikeforce veteran. Both suffered their only UFC losses to Ovince St. Preux.
Round 1. The fighters start off aggressively, exchanging punches from close range. Villante lands a hard leg kick. Donovan looks to establish his jab and connects with a nice jab that elicits a reaction from the crowd. Villante continues to mix in hard leg kicks with Donovan mostly working his boxing. Villante scores a takedown with a minute and a half left in the round. Donovan’s shorts glide up, showing massive discoloration on the leg that Villante has persistently attacked. Donovan gets up and lands a nice uppercut and a couple hooks before the round concludes. Good, competitive round. 10-9 Villante.
Round 2. Donovan goes for a takedown early in the round, but Villante successfully defends. Villante drops Donovan with an overhand right and follows with punches on the ground before the fight is called off.
Winner: Gian Villante, TKO, round 2.
Sergio Pettis vs. Will Campuzano
Pettis, the brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, is considered one of the top young prospects in the sport. He is making his UFC debut against an experienced veteran in Campuzano. Campuzano throughout his career has struggled against top flight competition.
Round 1. Campuzano takes down Pettis to start. Pettis grabs a guillotine choke and then lets it go to stand up. Campuzano catches a kick and takes Pettis down again. Pettis stands up and lands a solid knee to the body. Pettis goes for a takedown but Campuzano blocks it deftly. Pettis attacks Campuzano’s leg with repeated leg kicks. Pettis follows with punches upstairs while still mixing in the leg kicks. Campuzano takes Pettis down at the close of the round and lands a few punches before the end. Campuzano had his moments but Pettis did more damage in the standup. 10-9 Pettis.
Round 2. Pettis scores a takedown 90 seconds into the round. Pettis looks for a choke but Campuzano is able to avoid it. Pettis transitions to a kimura attempt and then into a rear naked choke attempt. Campuzano gets out of that and ends up in top position, an impressive display of submission defense. Pettis tries to stand up and Campuzano uses the opportunity to control his back. Campuzano tries to sink in his hooks and work for a rear naked choke but he isn’t able to and Pettis takes top position on the ground. They stand up and Pettis connects with a hard knee. At the close of the round, an exhausted Campuzano collapses near Pettis’ corner. 10-9 Pettis.
Round 3. The fighters clinch and Campuzano looks to grab a power guillotine choke. Pettis avoids that but Campuzano takes top position on the ground. Campuzano works from there until Pettis stands back up. On the feet, Pettis lands a couple kicks. The fighters wildly swing from close distance as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Campuzano, 29-28 Pettis. Pettis’ cardio and striking was the difference.
Winner: Sergio Pettis, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).
Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley
Jason High is an excellent wrestler with an impressive record, but who has struggled in the biggest fights of his career. Lapsley is a submission grappler who has competed on many of the smaller MMA circuits while looking for his big break. This is his UFC debut.
Round 1. High gets the takedown early. He quickly works into mount position. When Lapsley rolls over, High takes his back and looks to sink in a rear naked choke submission. Lapsley gets out and stands up, but High immediately shoots for another takedown. In a scramble, High gets Lapsley’s back. He gets his arm across the chin of Lapsley, but can’t get it under that chin. High works into full mount. Lapsley rolls again and gives High his back. Lapsley tries to stand up but eats a knee and High grabs a guillotine choke. High rolls over into top position holding the guillotine but eventually has to let it go. High ends the round in full mount. Just complete dominance on the ground by High. 10-8 High.
Round 2. The fighters clinch and Lapsley drops down to look for an ankle lock or knee bar. High scoots out and then drops down into top position. Lapsley is forced to roll out of danger again and ends up once more with High taking his back. High loses control with one of his legs, allowing Lapsley to gain top position. He controls High on top and looks to advance into better position. He looks for a kimura submission from half guard, a tough finish to pull off. High isn’t in serious jeopardy and gets his arm out. Lapsley lands a few punches at the end of the round. 10-9 Lapsley.
Round 3. High gets the takedown early. Lapsley moves towards the cage and tries to stand up with three minutes left in the final stanza. High grabs a guillotine choke and works for it, but Lapsley is able to get out of danger. High quickly grabs an omoplata shoulder lock and uses that to control Lapsley’s position and prevent Lapsley from taking top position cleanly. That positioning has been the key to the fight thus far. Lapsley gets out and the fighters grapple hard against the cage for control. High looks for a guillotine choke but doesn’t come close and then looks to set up a heel hook. High ends up on top at the end. 10-9 High, 29-27 High.
Winner: Jason High, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Erik Perez vs. Edwin Figueroa
As UFC expands into Mexico with an excellent television deal and solid TV ratings, Perez is a fighter the company hopes will appeal to the Mexican audience. Unfortunately for UFC, he suffered a setback in his most recent bout, a competitive decision loss to veteran Takeya Mizugaki. That makes this an important rebound fight for him. Figueroa is an exciting action fighter who also badly needs a win coming off consecutive losses in the UFC.
Round 1. Figueroa lands the first solid shot of the fight, a right hand straight up the middle. Perez drops Figueroa with an accidental low blow. After Figueroa recovers and the fight re-starts, Perez goes for a takedown. He gets it briefly but Figueroa stands right up. Perez drops Figueroa to the canvas with a stiff push kick to the body. They exchange punches with both men landing quality shots. As Figueroa goes for a kick, Perez takes him down. Perez lands punches to the body from half guard while Figueroa just holds on. Figueroa stands up but is greeted by a knee and taken right back down. Perez lands some elbows as the round concludes. 10-9 Perez.
Round 2. Perez drops Figueroa with a big right hook. Perez moves in looking to close but Figueroa fires back with heavy shots of his own including a great uppercut. Perez responds by lifting Figueroa up and slamming him down to the ground hard. Figueroa attempts to stand back up and gets to his feet. Perez grabs a single leg and looks to put him right back down. Figueroa stops that and they return to their feet. Figueroa lands a hard right punch up the middle and another moments later. Perez retaliates by taking Figueroa down. Perez isn’t terribly active on the ground and they are stood up right at the end of the round. 10-9 Perez.
Round 3. Figueroa pushes forward at the start of the round, walking down Perez. Figueroa wings wild punches and kicks, likely knowing that he has to finish in this round to win the fight. Perez throws a wild spinning kick that doesn’t come close to landing. However, he takes Figueroa down moments later. Perez tries to pass guard and finally does so after a minute or two of effort. Figueroa tries to buck Perez off unsuccessfully. Perez lands a knee from side control and Figueroa stands back up. Perez lands a nice inside punch and returns him to the floor. Figueroa gets up and throws some wild punches. He connects with a big hook right on the chin of Perez but Perez answers back with a hook of his own that staggers Figueroa. 10-9 Perez, 30-27 Perez.
Winner: Erik Perez, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Rick Story vs. Brian Ebersole
Story is a grinder who is the only fighter to defeat welterweight title challenger Johny Hendricks in MMA competition. He was at one point a burgeoning title contender but is no longer at that level after having lost four of his six most recent fights. Ebersole is an eccentric and extremely experienced fighter who had won four UFC fights in a row before losing his most recent contest in an uninspired performance against lightly regarded James Head.
Round 1. Story pushes straight forward towards Ebersole. Ebersole ducks down for a takedown but is stuffed. Story moves in again, looking to land a looping power punch to the jaw of Ebersole. Ebersole looks to take the fight to the ground a few times but each time he is greeted with one of those wild Story punches. Ebersole shoots for an additional pair of takedowns and each time Story stuffs him. As Ebersole comes in, Story finally lands one of those big looping punches on the chin of Ebersole. 10-9 Story.
Round 2. Story decides he finally wants to take the fight to the ground, and he quickly gets Ebersole to the mat. However, Ebersole in no time at all makes his way back up to his feet. Story returns to his strategy of the first round, pressing forward and throwing sloppy, looping punches. He lands a good one on Story about halfway through the round. Story lands a left punch and a knee to the body. Ebersole answers with a straight punch of his own but eats a hard punch to the body. They exchange by the cage at the end of the round. Story connects with a hard shot but Ebersole then lands his best blow of the fight, a left hook that drops and cuts Story. 10-9 Story.
Round 3. Ebersole throws a head kick and then a low kick. Story takes him down and drops some hard punches from the top before Ebersole stands up. On the feet, Story hits Ebersole with a good right hook. He brushes off another takedown attempt. With just a few minutes left in the fight, Story connects with a leg kick that does obvious damage to Ebersole’s knee. Ebersole limps away and Story pounces in with more power punches to the head. Story lands two more hard kicks to the leg and Ebersole collapses to the mat. Story follows him to the ground rather than forcing him to stand up and the fight comes to an end. 10-9 Story, 30-27 Story.
Thales Leites vs. Ed Herman
Leites and Herman are veterans of the sport, perhaps most adept on the ground but with tools in every aspect of the game. The high point of Leites’ career likely came when he earned a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title while Herman made his name on the third season of the Ultimate Fighter. Leites enters the Octagon with greater momentum, having won four consecutive bouts.
Round 1. Leites drops Herman to the ground with a trip but eats an upkick as he follows Herman down. Leites lands a few punches and attempts to work into a better position. He eventually is able to take Herman’s back and looks to apply a rear naked choke submission with 90 seconds left in the first round. Herman defends well and stands up at the end of the round. 10-9 Leites.
Round 2. The fighters aren’t afraid to trade on their feet, throwing punches with bad intentions from close range before Leites clinches and presses Herman against the cage. Two minutes into the round, he is finally able to secure a takedown. He looks to pass Herman’s guard and very nicely transitions into back mount like in the first round. Herman rolls out of danger and ends up back on the bottom. However, Leites again is able to work into position for a rear naked choke. Herman gets out of that again and ends up back on bottom. They’ve been running in circles this round. 10-9 Leites.
Round 3. Leites lands a nice hook and they clinch. Herman hits Leites with a nice combination of punches against the cage, one of the few times he has been able to get off in this fight. Leites clinches again. Herman hit Leites with an uppercut and attempts to do some damage from close range. Leites goes for a takedown and Herman blatantly grabs the cage to stop him. Eventually the referee has to pull off Herman’s hand. Leites gets the takedown. Leites lands a few punches and tries to pass guard without success as the round ends. 10-9 Herman, 29-28 Leites. Leites will probably get the third round from most but he was so ineffectual on the ground and Herman did some damage standing. That was a dreadful fight.
Winner: Thales Leites, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Evan Dunham vs. Donald Cerrone
Dunham and Cerrone are very talented fighters who are lost in the shuffle in a deep lightweight division. Dunham has given tough challenges for many of the best fighters in the division, but has dealt with some questionably decisions and is looking for that one signature win. Cerrone was a title contender at one point but has struggled in recent fights with consistency and strategy.
Round 1. Dunham charges across the ring for a takedown but is stuffed. Cerrone lands a hard knee in the process. Moments later, Cerrone lands another knee that dazes Dunham. Cerrone follows with additional punches that drop Dunham. He nearly has Dunham finished with punches on the ground, but the referee elects not to stop the fight. Dunham is able to recover and reverses into top position. Cerrone grabs an omoplata and uses it to roll Dunham back onto the bottom. Dunham is cut on the face from the earlier shots. Dunham stands up and works in the clinch with Cerrone. Cerrone lands a pair of knees to the head from that position and Dunham pulls away. From distance, they are a little more conservative than earlier in the fight. Cerrone lands a solid straight punch up the middle. 10-8 Cerrone.
Round 2. Cerrone hits a solid kick to the body. Dunham goes for a takedown but has it blocked and eats a knee. Cerrone hits another knee to the body after that. Cerrone is walking down Dunham, attacking from various angles and mixing up attacks to the body, head and legs. Cerrone lands another big knee to the body, a move he has used to finish fights in the past, and stops Dunham in a takedown attempt. Cerrone then takes top position on Dunham and has advantageous side control position. In a scramble, Cerrone locks up a triangle choke and gets the submission. That was a very impressive performance from Cerrone.
Winner, Donald Cerrone, submission, round 2.
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