On Saturday, Nov. 16, the UFC held UFC 167: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

In the night’s main event, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre put his belt on the line against hard-hitting No. 1 contender, Johny Hendricks. The Canadian St-Pierre sought his ninth straight title defense, having defeated Nick Diaz by unanimous decision at UFC 158 in March. Hendricks, meanwhile, entered the contest riding a six-fight winning streak, with three coming via first-round knockout.

The co-main event featured former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans against three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen. Evans snapped a two-fight skid in June with a decision win over Dan Henderson, while Sonnen also got back in the win column with a first-round submission of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in August.

Also on the main card was a pair of welterweight contests as longtime veteran Robbie Lawler clashed with rising contender Rory MacDonald and former UFC title challenger Josh Koscheck faced off with former Strikeforce title challenger Tyron Woodley. Rounding out the pay-per-view portion of the event was a flyweight contest between Tim Elliott and Ali Bagautinov.

The 12-fight event kicked off at 6:45 p.m. ET with three fights streaming live on the promotion’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Four additional bouts followed on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, with the pay-per-view main card beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

St-Pierre narrowly defeats Hendricks to retain welterweight title

Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre survived the toughest test of his career, claiming a controversial, split decision win over Johny Hendricks.

The champion opened with kicks and Hendricks looked for his overhand left. St-Pierre anticipated it and ducked under it to plant Hendricks on his back. The Canadian briefly attacked with a guillotine choke, but Hendricks worked back to his feet. St-Pierre shot for a takedown, but Hendricks stuffed it and delivered a barrage of elbows along the fence. Hendricks scored with a takedown of his own, but St-Pierre quickly worked back to his feet. A knee from Hendricks connected as the pair pummeled in the center of the cage. St-Pierre missed with a big head kick as the round came to an end.

St-Pierre came out throwing kicks in round two, but ate a sharp left hand from Hendricks that appeared to wobble him. Hendricks followed with a series of uppercuts that hurt the champion. St-Pierre closed the distance along the fence and recovered from the onslaught. The pair traded single shots for the remainder of the round, including a stabbing right hand from St-Pierre and a head kick that did not have much behind it.

Hendricks came out swinging hard in round three. St-Pierre landed with his jab, but Hendicks delivered a counter knee. The fighters traded jabs in the center of the cage as the momentum appeared to swing in favor of the champion. Hendricks’ output slowed as St-Pierre started to open up with his hands. In the final minute of the frame, Hendricks scored with a takedown along the cage, but St-Pierre quickly returned to his feet.

The championship rounds began with the fighters continuing to trade single shots. St-Pierre slipped while backpedaling and Hendricks dove into his guard. St-Pierre tried to tie him up, but Hendricks landed multiple elbows to open a cut on St-Pierre’s face. The fight returned to the feet and St-Pierre ate an uppercut from Hendricks. St-Pierre looked for a takedown but was stuffed. Hendricks looked for a takedown of his own, but the fight remained upright until the bell.

St-Pierre opened the final round in desperation mode. He fired off his jab and a head kick before diving for a takedown. Hendricks showcased great balance to stay standing. St-Pierre delivered a straight right hand followed by a body kick to set up a takedown. Hendricks scrambled back to his feet and muscled St-Pierre against the fence. In the final minute, St-Pierre sought a takedown and got it, but could not hold Hendricks down.

When the decision was read, the verdict was split, but St-Pierre narrowly retained his belt.

Evans runs through Sonnen

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans moved one step closer to his wish of another title shot with a dominant, first-round TKO win over Chael Sonnen.

Sonnen rushed out to take the center of the Octagon and quickly shot for a takedown. Evans stuffed it and the pair clinched along the fence. Evans worked for a takedown of his own, but Sonnen shrugged it off. As the pair jostled for position, Evans connected with a pair of right hands. Evans got in deep on a double-leg takedown and put Sonnen on his back. Once on the mat, Evans unloaded with ground and pound. Sonnen tried to escape but ate shot after shot from the bottom. Evans took Sonnen’s back and rained punches, forcing Herb Dean to halt the bout.

Lawler outworks MacDonald

In an exciting, back-and-forth battle, welterweight Robbie Lawler edged Rory MacDonald via split decision.

The opening frame featured a measured pace from both fighters. Lawler scored early with leg kicks and he continued to use them to keep MacDonald guessing. MacDonald managed to stay out of the range of Lawler’s heavy hands, but did not stop Lawler’s kicks. A late flurry from Lawler scored as the round concluded.

MacDonald looked for a takedown to start round two, but Lawler showed great balance to stay upright. Lawler marched forward, but MacDonald fired back with counter shots to the ribcage. MacDonald scored with a takedown just past the midway point of the stanza. At first, MacDonald did little with the top position, but as Lawler worked to get back to his feet, MacDonald unleashed ground and pound to take the round.

Lawler connected with a heavy shot to open the final frame, forcing MacDonald to retreat. An uppercut also landed and MacDonald shot desperately for a takedown. Lawler tied up the Canadian from his back and referee Mario Yamasaki brought the fight back to the feet. Lawler delivered another big left hand and MacDonald ended up on his back. Lawler stood and fended off a takedown attempt before dropping MacDonald with another left hand. Lawler followed with right hands into side control, but MacDonald worked back to his feet and landed a final takedown of his own.

When the scorecards were revealed, it was the longtime veteran Lawler who was rewarded for his efforts.

Woodley knocks out Koscheck

Former Strikeforce title challenger Tyron Woodley scored a violent knockout finish of former UFC title challenger Josh Koscheck in the first round.

Woodley scored with a right hand early and followed with a big uppercut that rocked Koscheck. Koscheck pressed the fight against the cage and delivered short shots. A wild exchange saw Koscheck connect and Woodley’s advance was momentarily slowed. Woodley delivered another big right hand and Koscheck crashed to the mat. Woodley flurried for the finish, but Koscheck tied him up from the bottom and forced referee Herb Dean to stand the fight up. Back on the feet, Woodley hit Koscheck with a massive right hand and followed with another that put Koscheck out cold.

Bagautinov edges Elliott

Flyweight Ali Bagautinov used heavy hands to claim a unanimous decision win over Tim Elliott to kick of the night’s main card.

Elliott pressed forward from the opening bell, but was unable to land any strikes. Bagautinov scored with his jab early, creating some swelling around the right eye of Elliott. A right hand from Bagautinov was followed by a big knee, but Elliott took it well and continued to march forward. The Russian easily shrugged off Elliott’s takedown attempt and scored one of his own. Elliott bounced back to his feet, but continued to eat short shots from Bagautinov as the round closed.

In round two, Elliott continued to march forward. Bagautinov shot for a takedown but Elliott latched onto a deep guillotine choke that had the Russian in trouble. Bagautinov stood and threw Elliott off him, but Elliott landed inside his guard. Elliott rained ground and pound, but Bagautinov was able to scramble back to his feet. Elliott scored with his jab until Bagautinov scored with a takedown late in the frame.

It was more of the same in round three as Elliott pushed the pace and peppered Bagautinov with his jab. Bagautinov continued to score with the heavier shots, but Elliott fired back with wild combinations. The fight ended with a violent slam from Elliott.

The scorecards awarded Bagautinov for his heavy hands, moving the Russian to 2-0 inside the Octagon.

Preliminary Card Summary

Lightweight Donald Cerrone put on a Muay Thai clinic against Evan Dunham before locking in a fight-finishing triangle choke in round two. Cerrone rocked Dunham early in the fight with a big knee and looked for a finish on the mat. Dunham survived, but a massive cut opened over his left eye. Cerrone continued to deliver knee after knee throughout the opening round, but Dunham would see the second stanza. Cerrone scored with a takedown late in round two and Dunham looked for a reversal, but fell into a deep triangle choke and was forced to tap.

Brazilian middleweight Thales Leites earned his fifth straight win, besting Ultimate Fighter alum Ed Herman by unanimous decision. Leites tagged Herman in the opening exchange of the bout and followed him to the ground. From there, the BJJ black belt established the theme of the fight, controlling Herman from the top position. Herman did well to avoid getting submitted, but Leites’ ground prowess was too much as he cruised to the decision win.

In a clash of welterweight veterans, Rick Story battered Brian Ebersole from the opening bell to claim a clear-cut decision victory. Story marched forward throughout the contest, repeatedly finding a home for his overhand left. Story mixed in a variety of body shots and leg kicks, preventing Ebersole from mounting any offense. By the third round, Ebersole was limping badly on his lead leg, but he would survive to see the final bell and the wrong end of the decision.

Kicking off the Fox Sports 1 portion of the event, bantamweight Erik Perez got back in the win column with a one-sided decision win over Edwin Figueroa. Perez mixed in his takedowns to compliment his big right hand across all three rounds, preventing Figueroa from finding a rhythm. Figueroa fired back in the middle stanza, but was unable to keep Perez from planting him on his back. Perez earned a clean sweep on the scorecards.

Welterweight Jason High picked up his second Octagon victory with a dominant grappling display against newcomer Anthony Lapsley. High took Lapsley to the mat and mounted him just seconds into the fight. The Kansas City native would control the majority of the fight from the mount and looked for numerous submission attempts. Lapsley scored a big reversal in round two, but was unable to fend off High’s repeated takedowns and positional control. High took the fight on all three scorecards.

At just 20 years of age, Sergio Pettis kept his perfect record intact in his UFC debut, earning a unanimous decision over veteran Will Campuzano. Pettis peppered Campuzano with leg kicks early in the fight, forcing Campuzano to look for takedowns. Campuzano was successful in dragging the fight to the ground, but was unable to inflict any damage on his younger foe. In the end, Pettis’ speed was the difference as he cruised to the decision win.

Strikeforce veteran Gian Villante earned his first UFC win with a second-round TKO of fellow light heavyweight Cody Donovan. Donovan opened the fight with nice mix of punches and a pair of head kicks that landed. Villante’s chin held up and in round two, he connected with a big right hand as Donovan threw a kick. The punch dropped Donovan and a flurry from Villante force the referee to halt the contest.

FULL RESULTS
Georges St-Pierre def. Johny Hendricks by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) – for welterweight title
Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen by TKO (punches). Round 1, 4:05
Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Tyron Woodley def. Josh Koscheck by knockout (punches). Round 1, 4:38
Ali Bagautinov def. Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Donald Cerrone def. Evan Dunham by submission (triangle choke). Round 2, 3:49
Thales Leites def. Ed Herman by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Rick Story def. Brian Ebersole by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Erik Perez def. Edwin Figueroa by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Jason High def. Anthony Lapsley by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Sergio Pettis def. Will Campuzano by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Gian Villante def. Cody Donovan by TKO (punches). Round 2, 1:22

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)