Georges St.Pierre tonight unified the welterweight title with his toughest battle in the Octagon to date against Carlos Condit, having to fight his way back from the brink of defeat in the third round to claim a unanimous decision win.

With the crowd offering up a carnival atmosphere the two fighters started the fight with Condit immediately circling around the outside of the cage.

The two were feeling each other out at this stage, both attempting the occasional kick, but the best punch was perhaps a stiff jab from GSP.

Condit tried a Brazilian kick, but it’s speculative. Then St.Pierre suddenly goes for the takedown and after running the pipe he lands it successfully to the delight of the Montreal crowd.

He needs to be cautious though as Condit is immediately looking for a submission. GSP has good control though and is able to keep him at bay and is keeping a good pace as he looks to land a little ground and pound and try to improve his position.

Condit’s doing a good job of keeping him busy and towards the end of the round he’s actually giving the champ some problems with punches from his back.

Then St.Pierre lands the best shot of the fight so far, a hard elbow strike that immediately opens up a nasty cut above Condit’s right eye, and that’s how the round ends with the challenger bleeding heavily.

With the cut cleaned up Condit heads in to the second round still looking fresh and he fires off a nice combination of punches and kicks that looks good but doesn’t land.

By contrast GSP isn’t throwing combo’s but he’s timing his shots veery nicely and lands a couple of very crisp punches in the opening couple of minutes, the latter of which leaves Condit’s nose bloodied, while his cut is now leaking again too.

With two minutes of the second round left GSP easily takes Condit to the mat and is working ground and pound. Condit’s absolutely covered in blood now, it’s a blood bath out there and the champion isn’t showing any signs of sympathy.

Condit’s still game though and from his back he manages to open a slight cut on St.Pierre’s face.

Onto the third and almost immediately Condit turns the fight on it’s head. He comes forward and misses with a punch, but then comes back upstairs with a head kick that catches the champion completely off-guard and it lands cleanly and drops him hard.

St.Pierre’s dazed and there’s shades of his first fight with Matt Serra here as Condit swarms on him on the mat with strikes. GSP’s sporting big swelling on his forehead, but he’s fighting intelligently and manages to avoid the worst of his opponent’s offense and then is able to scramble to his feet.

GSP still looks hurt, but he’s showing heart and determination by pressing forward regardless, and unleashes a flurry of strikes against the cage that has Condit covering up.

Then St.Pierre goes for the takedown and dumps Condit to the mat, a key moment for him. Condit continues to remain crafty on the ground, but GSP’s comfortable here and is able to stifle his sweep and submission attempts while working some ground and pound to end the round in a much better position than he was just a few minutes ago.

Condit threatens with another head kick in the opening minute of the fourth round, but doesn’t have the same success this time, and GSP returns fire with one of his own.

Then St.Pierre launches a flurry of punches which sets up another successful takedown. Hats off to Condit though because he’s giving him a really tough time from his back, relentlessly looking to shift his position, throw strikes and work for subs and sweeps which is limiting St.Pierre’s own opportunities to unleash offense.

Condit does well to get back to his feet and in a scramble finds himself momentarily on top of GSP against the cage. He starts to work some ground and pound, but somehow St.Pierre gets out from under him and then secures a takedown of his own to end the round.

They start exchanging early in the final round. Condit looks a little tired but is looking for kicks, while St.Pierre has some success with the jab.

GSP lands his sixth successful takedown of the fight, but it doesn’t last long and they are upright again.

Condit tries pressing forward with punches, but St.Pierre retreats out of range. The champion lands a nice jab and now has Condit on the back foot as he puts together a punching combo to set up his next takedown.

This is a strong position for GSP with just a couple of minutes remaining and he’s happy to remain here as Condit tries to figure out a way to make an impact from here. He looks for a kimura, but there’s not enough time remaining so he abandons it.

Instead he tries to land some strikes from his back instead, but that just seems to fire up St.Pierre who lunges forward and lands a couple of hard elbow strikes before the final bell.

And so a bloody and thoroughly entertaining battle comes to an end and it’s GSP who earns a unanimous decision verdict from the judges (49-46, 50-45 x2).

In the end it’s a fight that both fighters will rightly take plaudits for. In Condit’s case, giving the champion the toughest fight of his career will earn him respect, while for GSP, the fact that he was able to prove that he can battle back from adversity only enhances his legacy and further solidifies his status as one of the very best fighters the sport has ever produced.