In light of the great deal of controversy surrounding the GSP split-decision victory last night (nearly everyone on my Timeline yesterday evening claimed Hendricks was robbed), here is my (amateur, humble) breakdown.
Round 1: GSP gets a takedown… almost chokes Hendricks. Later, Hendricks fails on a takedown. Gets a couple of hard punches in on GSP while they are struggling against the cage. Then takes down GSP, though it’s an awkward, unimpressive takedown. Goldberg says there’s a cut over GSP’s eye. Good leg kick by GSP. Another kick by GSP, to the face this time. Hendricks leads in significant strikes landed but not by much. Seems to be the aggressor in the last minute of the round, though, again, not by much.
This round could seriously go either way. Almost impossible to score. Yes, Hendricks had more strikes landed but GSP had some nice leg kicks, a takedown, and had greater control of the Octagon for a longer period of time.
R 1: I score it as ‘WHO THE HECK KNOWS!’ But, worth noting: immediately after the fight, my Twitter pal @OmarBaddar Tweeted that it looked as though Hendricks almost tapped out in Round 1. Replays show yes, he almost did. So, in hindsight, based on that, if there has to be a tie-breaker, I’d say GSP won the round, though my inclination would be to give it to GSP even without that potential almost-tap. So, I’ll go with 10-9, GSP.
Round 2: GSP looks tired whereas Hendricks does not — that doesn’t mean anything, though. Just an observation. Hendricks comes out strong and has control of the Octagon, aggressively moving to land some punches. GSP is on the defensive and wobbling, almost slips. Hendricks looks terrific here, the cheers of the crowd indicate this fight might even be over. Ref splits them up (unnecessarily) and they regroup. Again, Hendricks is moving aggressively and landing a series of punches. Now some kicks to GSP’s knee. A couple of jabs by GSP and a nice kick. GSP seems to have found his footing and Hendricks isn’t doing much now. Seems a pretty even striking bout at this minute, though GSP is visibly exhausted. Hendricks seems to have lost some of his steam. Kick to Hendricks’s face. Hendricks isn’t doing much right now.
R 2: I score it Hendricks 10-9 (no question!)
Round 3: GSP comes out aggressively here. First minute GSP is in control and Hendricks is on the defensive. The strikes landed are about even at the 2 minute mark. Hendricks moves a bit more aggressively now but isn’t doing much, still seems on the defensive. GSP aggressive once again, moving forward and landing a punch or two. Hendricks seems tired and can’t seem to land much, constantly not he defensive. GSP seems to have a sudden battery surge. A minute and a half to go. Hendricks almost seems to be doing the Nick Diaz thing at this point, making the “I’m confident” face while not actually DOING much. One minute to go. Hendricks almost looks like he’s in a practice — doesn’t seem to have much ‘umph’ behind his punches. Takes down GSP, suddenly. Lands some punches on GSP. But GSP gets up, crowd goes nuts, rightly so.
R 3: I score it GSP 10-9 (no question!)
Round 4 kicks off. GSP emerges with control of the Octagon again, though Hendricks seems less on the defensive now. Evenly matched for the first minute of this round, with neither doing much. Stats shows GSP leads in strikes landed but not by much. Hendricks moves aggressively and GSP falls. Hendricks pounces on him but doesn’t execute much ground and pound — instead both seem to be struggling. Still, Hendricks is dominant in this position and is holding it for what seems like a long while. Doesn’t go anywhere but, when GSP is up, one can see his face has taken a toll. A little over 2 minutes to go. Both land some strikes. Some struggling against the cage — first GSP has Hendricks against it, then Hendricks switches it and has GSP against the cage. Takedowns attempted. Not much happening here and the round closes out.
R4: Hendricks 10-9 Pretty obvious: this round was unimpressive in regards to either fighter being dominant aBUT Hendricks had that takedown where he, despite not doing much with it, controlled GSP for a while. Simply put, Hendricks had more control of the round.
Final round! Goldberg says GSP “must be in desperation mode at this point.” HUH? Ok. Anyway, GSP grabs Hendricks’s leg but Hendricks’s balance allows him to stay up. Wow. Now Hendricks has GSP against the cage, though not much is happening with it as GSP is defending well. Hendricks’s attempt at a kimora fails. GSP lands some body kicks and takes down Hendricks. Hendricks scrambles out but GSP still has control of him. Body kick by GSP. Now the two are striking back and forth. Minute left. GSP lands impressive shot and almost takes down Hendrikcks. Then does take him down in a bit. 10 seconds left. GSP looking to get a kimora. Round ends.
R5: I score it GSP 10-9
Joe Rogan: “I think we may have a new welterweight champion.” Hmm, not exactly but as @BloodstainLane pointed out on Twitter today, that may have a lot to do with why Twitter immediately jumped to say Hendricks was robbed.
Ultimately, I scored it 48-47, with GSP narrowly squeaking out a victory to retain the belt.
UPDATE: Yahoo Sports contributor David King also scores it the same as I did, after re-watching the fight: