Canadian Georges St. Pierre unified the welterweight title in his return to the octagon, unanimously outpointing Carlos Condit in a bloody fight Saturday night at UFC 154.
The judges scored it almost a shutout for St. Pierre at 49-46, 50-45, 50-45.
The 31-year-old St. Pierre consolidated his lead with takedowns as the fight wore on, showing his wrestling skills and ability to resist Condit's submission attempts on the ground.
The two battered fighters shook hands and embraced when the fight ended.
St. Pierre (23-2) fought for the first time since April 2011 following reconstructive knee surgery after a training injury. Condit won the interim title during the Canadian's absence, beating Nick Diaz in February.
"People talk about ring rust. I definitely know what it is now," St. Pierre said. "Credit to Carlos, he definitely gave me my toughest fight."
St. Pierre said his knee was fine throughout the fight.
The victory likely means a super-fight showdown with middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The 37-year-old Brazilian met the media before the card started, declaring his interest in meeting St. Pierre somewhere between their two weight classes.
"I need to take some vacation and think about it," St. Pierre said.
Condit dropped to 28-6
"His top game was very, very good," Condit said. "He was able to hold me down better than I expected. I feel like I did pretty well ... but I need to go back to the drawing board."
Condit knocked down St. Pierre down with a head kick early in the third and swarmed him.
"I thought I had him there," Condit said
St. Pierre has won 10 straight fights since April 2007 when he was upset by Matt Serra.
In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks knocked out Martin Kampmann in 46 seconds in a battle of welterweight contenders. Hendricks (14-1) threw a right, then nailed Kampmann (20-6) with a left, sending him flying backward. Hendricks hit the Dane one more time on the ground before the referee stepped in.
Hendricks mimed holding the championship belt around his waist as he celebrated this fifth straight win.
"Please, please give me a shot at the belt," Hendricks said.