UFC 167: Biggest Winners and Losers
As a modest underdog going into the fight Hendricks had it all to gain, and all to lose. Not succumbing to GSP's seemingly unstoppable Takedowns, "Big Rigg" was able to mark up the champ, landing hard shots, even scoring takedowns of his own. Having every GSP fan worried by the end of the second round.
He took his foot off the gas later in the fight, which can be excused, he's never fought at this level of talent before let alone go 5 rounds. He had the fans, fellow fighters, even the UFC president feeling he won the bout...and that speaks volumes. He's gained a lot even in defeat.
1-3 in his last four fights for Strikeforce, you'd be forgiven in thinking "Ruthless" may have been "gifted" a UFC fight when Zuffa bought out Strikeforce.
Having brutally taken out former #1 contender Josh Koscheck, and Bobby Voelker, many believed that Rory MacDonald would have been too much for Lawler. Showing great TD defence and a better-rounded game that we haven't seen from Robbie in a while, he took all MacDonald had to offer and dished it out just as good.
Round 3 sealed the deal for Lawler, who almost stopped MacDonald and landed some of his classic hard bellringers to Rory's temple.
Lawler has had an up-and-down career since he came on the scene in 2001, but to call this a career resurgence would seem an understatement weighed against his acheivement at 167.
Georges St. Pierre:
In light of Anderson Silva's recent TKO loss, the P4P #1 slot had been given by many as a matter of default to GSP. And on previous form you'd have been right to bestow such a label on such a fighter.
Yet recent inactivity, facing an opponent with one-puch KO Power, questions over drug testing had created an odd buzz surrounding the time coming up to 167's Main Event.
GSP found himself in trouble early, by round 3 he found something resembling rhythm. Using his jab and combinations he was able to claim back many two of the 5 rounds in his favour. By the end of Round 5, the MMA was expecting a passing of the torch, and new leader to the WW division. All expected Hendricks to have his hand raised as victor.
GSP was given (many believed "gifted") the Split decision victory. Drawing criticism from the MMA world, the MMA press, his own boss. Those who felt he earned victory were in a great minority.
In need of time off for personal reasons, and a boss demanding you put your personal issues on hold has put GSP in a difficult situation. Whatever is going on in his private life obviously has taken away something from GSP as the urgency was not on show come UFC167. Whatever his issues...can they be set aside for a better showing in a rematch? Or do you forfeit and deal with real-life?
GSP has a lot of searching to do.
Having been a previous #1 contender, a Split Decision loss to Johnny Hendricks was not seen as to bad a setback. Koscheck has been a constant in the UFC since TUF1, a figure of notoriety for years. He has beaten some of the best there is at 170, and also fell short when it came to step up to the mark.
But his mouth, his personality has always kept Koscheck on the lips and minds of MMA fans worldwide. He is now the victim of two 1st round stoppages, and on a 3-fight skid. A tendency to brawl, and neglect his wrestling roots has put Kos in a precarious position in an increasingly competitive WW division.
He will need to either start from the ground up (literally) or rethink his career choices. And at 35 is it too late for Kos to reinvent himself into an opponent that can be a threat again?
Time will tell, and it is ticking on Koscheck too.