GSP retained his welterweight title tonight at UFC 167, but only by the skin of his teeth against an impressive looking Johny Hendricks who gave the champion easily the toughest fight of his career to date and can perhaps feel unlucky not to be going home with the belt around his waist.
GSP fires out a front kick. Then he gets a big takedown. He looks for a guillotine choke, but Hendricks gets out and back to his feet.
They’re still clinched up and Hendricks presses GSP up against the cage. GSP manages to circle out and away from the cage, still in the clinch.
The ref breaks them up and they reset in the center of the cage. GSP goes for a takedown, but Hendricks stuffs it and starts to land a few punches while balanced on one leg.
GSP gets him up against the cage looking for the takedown, but Hendricks drops down some hard elbows and GSP abandons that plan and just remains in the clinch instead.
Hendricks reverses the clinch position and manages to get a takedown of his own. GSP’s sporting some knots on his heads already.
GSP gets upright and gets out and back to striking range. Nice knee from Hendricks and a good kick from GSP.
Hendricks wades in with a big punch, but it misses the mark. Head kick from GSP lands, but Hendricks eats it and seems ok.
Hendricks landing knees to GSP’s leg. Nice knee to the body from GSP. Then another one.
Hendricks lands a punch as they break apart. GSP back to snapping out the front kick to the body.
Leg kicks from Hendricks. GSP lands a hook and feels out with a couple of head kicks.
Hendricks winging some big punches GSP’s way as the round ends.
GSP feels out with the jab to start the second round. He lands a low kick and Hendrick responds with one of his own.
GSP lands a superman punch and Hendricks lands a big left.
GSP back to working behind the jab and peeling off the occasional leg kick.
Hendricks lands another big left and GSP might be hurt here! Hendricks pouring it on with more big punches and GSP really is in danger.
GSP throwing caution to the wind by throwing back, trying to do something that’ll back Hendricks off.
Hendricks mouthpiece comes out which gives a brief moment for GSP to get his bearings.
Back to it they go and Hendricks wades in with more big punches. They clinch up and then separate.
GSP starts to get a little more fluid with his striking, landing the jab and superman punch. He’s working from range and seems to have weathered the storm for now.
Hendricks doing a nice job of timing his counters. GSP lands a solid head kick, but Hendricks shrugs it off.
Hendricks just misses with a big left and GSP counters with a right. They clinch up towards the end of the round and Hendricks lands some solid knees to the champ’s thigh.
Nice leg kick from GSP that seems to take Hendricks balance out for a second. He fires back though.
The two exchange leg kicks. Hendricks connects with a light left hook.
Jab connects for Hendricks and one comes back in return. Hendricks wades forward aggressively and lands a punch, but GSP responds and tags him with a harder shot.
Leg kick for GSP, punch for Hendricks. Right hand connects for GSP and then a leg kick behind it.
He snaps out a couple of front kicks to the body. Hendricks wades forward with a left-right-left combo, but hits thin air.
GSP’s output has notably increased compared to Hendricks now. GSP lands a solid jab to the jaw.
Kick from GSP and a nice counter from Hendricks. Hendricks ducks under a punch and lands a nice body shot.
Hendricks looking for a takedown, but he has to settle for the clinch against the cage. Hendricks tries again to get the fight to the mat, and this time he’s successful.
Hendricks unable to do anything with that good position and with 10 seconds left GSP gets back upright.
The two men happy to exchange strikes early in the first of two championship rounds.
Hendricks lands a kick and GSP counters with a jab.
Hendricks tries to pressure forward and gets his reward when GSP slips and falls to the mat.
Hendricks gets on top in GSP’s guard. GSP with a few short punches and Hendricks lands an elbow. Now he’s working body-body-head combo’s.
GSP gets some space and Hendricks backs away and lets him up. GSP’s face is bleeding quite a bit now.
Hendricks lands some solid punches, but GSP seems ok. Hendricks landing again – he’s really found his range this round again.
GSP wades forward and lands a couple of punches and then goes for the clinch against the cage.
Hendricks immediately muscles him around though and fights hard for a takedown. GSP defending and manages to sprawl out.
The champ back to clinching against the cage, and again he’s reversed. Hendricks certainly appears to be the stronger of the two. Knees to the leg of GSP from Hendricks to close out the round.
So it’s down to the final round and GSP’s title is at risk here.
Jab and a body kick from GSP to start. Then he bursts in with a takedown attempt. Hendricks defending it well as GSP drags him away from the cage. He continues hopping on one leg as GSP drags him around, but can’t get him down.
Then Hendricks gets both feet back down on terra firma and pushes GSP against the cage.
Hendricks tries for a kimura and GSP backs away.
GSP lands a couple of nice punches and then gets the takedown. Hendricks spins and GSP takes his neck. Hendricks stands up against the cage though and then muscles his way back into an advantageous position in the clinch.
GSP reverses and lands a couple of knees. The two go back and forth reversing position in the clinch and then the ref separates them.
GSP threatens with the head kick, but it’s blocked. Hendricks lands with the jab. GSP tries a front kick to the face that misses.
The champion looks for the takedown in the final minute, but he’s got Hendricks pressed against the cage and is having to work very hard for it.
He does finally manage to get him down, but Hendricks is immediately back up and clinches up against the cage.
GSP desperately trying to crank on a kimura in the final seconds, but there’s nothing doing and it’s down to the judges to call this one.
We could be set for one of the biggest upsets in UFC history here…but No! It’s a split decision verdict, but it’s GSP who has yet again defended his title (48-47 x2, 47-48).
That’s a dubious decision to say the least and Hendricks is needless to say massively disappointed.