GSP puts on MMA clinic
St. Pierre defends welter title in dominating win over lightweight champ Penn
Octagonside by Anthony Springer Jr
Photos by Chris Cozzone
A sold-out show packed the house last night for one of the most anticipated rematches in MMA history, between UFC Welterweight Champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre and UFC Lightweight Champion BJ "The Prodigy" Penn.
Everyone in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, was on their feet as the lightweight and welterweight champions made their respective walks to the Octagon. Both fighters had solid crowd support, with as many from, both, Canada and Hawaii making the journey to the City of Sin to witness history.
The rematch, however, wasn't even close.
The two combatants met for the first time in 2006—a match that saw GSP eke out a controversial split decision victory. Since that time, St-Pierre went on to become a dominant welterweight and Penn would later rule the resurgent lightweight division, becoming its champion. The first battle seemed to haunt both men; St-Pierre upset at himself for not finishing Penn off the first time; Penn dissatisfied for what he would likely dub “a robbery” as a result of the defeat.
There would be no need for judges Saturday night.
From the outset, the much larger St-Pierre had his way with the overmatched “Prodigy.” Penn showed little signs of life in the opening round, bruising GSP’s face with a series of right hands as the defending champion went for numerous unsuccessful single leg takedowns.
Despite a renewed focus to training, cardio proved once again to be an issue for Penn, who appeared to visibly gas in the second round. In what could very well be the most embarrassing fifteen minutes in the storied career of the light weight champion, St-Pierre had his way with Penn, who could do little more than fight to make it to the next five minutes.
St-Pierre put on a clinic, taking Penn down at will and switching from full guard, to half guard, to side control seamlessly. Early submission attempts by Penn were shrugged off as GSP unleashed his trademark ground and pound, with many elbows and forearms finding their mark—and subsequently leaving marks—on Penn’s face.
As the fourth round ticked to a close, a wobbly Penn walked slowly to his corner, who promptly began icing and fanning the visibly exhausted fighter. BJ’s brother and corner man had seen enough, and in a moment reminiscent of last year’s De La Hoya-Pacquiao fight, instructed the Octagon side doctor and referee Herb Dean that Baby Jay was done for the evening. The official decision was TKO via doctor stoppage at 5:00 in the fourth round.
Up until the stoppage, the judges scored the bout 40-35, 40-34, and 40-34 for St-Pierre.
After the bout, the reigning 170- pounder revealed the method behind his Octagon madness.
“My strategy was to make it a wrestling match,” an excited St-Pierre revealed to Joe Rogan after the fight.
“His shoulder is made for boxing, because he has small shoulders. By making him wrestle all the blood would go to his shoulders and his hands wouldn’t be as quick.”
Penn drops to 13-5-1, while St-Pierre improves to 18-2 with the win.
St-Pierre will defend his title next against a rising star in Thiago Alves, while Penn will square off against Kenny Florian.
“The Dragon” Remains Unbeaten, KO’s Silva
In a night that boasted eight decisions, the fighter known for going the distance ironically was the only one to finish a fight. Pegged as an unexciting fighter by many MMA fans on the Internet, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida silenced his critics, knocking out Thiago Silva in the first round.
It seemed that the overly aggressive Silva was tailor made for the elusive style of the undefeated Karate fighter. From the outset, Silva was picked apart while chasing down the more technically sound Machida.
The American Top Team fighter was felled early on with a knee shot, but the unusually aggressive Machida was unable to finish.
Midway through the first, it was clear that if the fight went the distance, Silva was in for a long night.
As the ten second marker was announced, Machida shoved Silva to the floor and finished definitively with two power shots that turned out Thiago’s lights as time expired
With the victory, Machida moves one step closer to a meeting with current 205 champion Rashad Evans and keeps his record unblemished at 14-0.
Thiago Silva falls to 13-1.
Jones Dominates Bonnar in Night’s Eighth Decision
Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Jon “Bones” Jones.
The undefeated New York fighter joined elite company Saturday night by defeating the original Ultimate Fighter runner up in “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar.
“Bones” Jones showed that he came to fight seconds after the opening bell, narrowly missing Bonnar’s face with what would’ve been a potential fight ending overhand right. From there, Jones mixed up his striking arsenal and kept the Chicago native guessing with a series of punches and kicks.
Bonnar found himself in serious trouble early when a wild spinning elbow caught him flush in the back of the head. Referee Steve Mazagatti failed to catch the unintentional illegal maneuver and Jones, failed to capitalize on the opportunity and Bonnar escaped the TKO finish.
With a sense of urgency in the air, Bonnar came out with a vengeance in the third and final round. He appeared to hurt the slowing Jones at several points with uppercuts from the clinch position, but was unable to seal the deal. When the fight hit the mat, Bonnar nearly pulled off a victory again, sinking in an arm bar. However, it was not to be, as Jones powered out and was never again in serious trouble.
The judges scored the bout, 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28 for the now 8-0 Jones.
Parisyan Makes Uneventful Return to Octagon
Karo “The Heat” Parisyan was sidelined for most of 2008 with a nagging leg injury. His only appearance in the Octagon that year was a loss to current 170 pound number one contender Thiago Alves.
In a much anticipated return to caged combat, “The Heat” was nearly cooled in a split decision victory over Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim.
The two Judokas went back and forth for control over the course of the fifteen minute chess match, and neither was able to execute much offense. Parisyan wowed the crowd with several Judo throws, but was unable to use the maneuver to shake off Kim, who stuck to “The Heat” like glue in spite of being slammed to the mat. Despite the flashy moves, Kim seemed to dictate the pace of the fight, scoring with takedowns and taking the fight to the mat whenever he wanted.
Kim’s offense however, was not enough and Parisyan came away with the split decision victory, giving Kim his first professional loss.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 (twice) for “The Heat” and 29-28 for “Stun Gun.”
Guida Edges Out Diaz
In a battle of rising lightweights, Clay Guida earned an ugly split decision victory over Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz.
The two 155’ers electrified the crowd early on as both attempted to make a statement early. Diaz took the center of the Octagon first, using his reach advantage to pepper “the Carpenter” with his right jab.
On paper, it would seem that the Caesar-Gracie protégé would have a clear edge once the fight hit the ground, but it was the wily Guida who dominated the fight in the clinch and on the mat. The relentless Guida blanketed the calm Diaz, preventing the reality show star from utilizing his heralded ground game.
Round three saw Diaz threaten to finish as he opened up with a flurry of strikes that found their mark. A battered Guida found himself on the defensive and avoided a TKO loss by grabbing hold of the lengthy leg of his opponent.
With the fight seemingly still in the balance, both tried to end with a flash; Diaz went for an unsuccessful rear naked choke while Diaz slipped out the back door and landed a bomb of his own as the final seconds of round three elapsed.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 for Guida (twice) and 29-28 for Diaz. Nick, the elder Diaz brother, expressed his disappointment with the decision by giving an unenthusiastic thumb down as Bruce Buffer announced the winner.
Gono Steals the Show, Fitch Steals the Victory
Akihiro Gono put on a show in the day and moments leading up to his bout with Jon Fitch. At the weigh in, Gono arrived sporting a giant Afro wig and zebra print underwear for the scale. He graciously offered his hair piece to Fitch, who donned the wig for the face off photo.
During his UFC 94 entrance, Gono and his corner men arrived clad in Motown era sequins dresses, wigs and gloves. The trio—who resembled a modern day, Asian version of the Supremes—completed a dance routine to the delight of the crowd.
Unfortunately, when the action sounded, the much more conservative Fitch put on a dominant 15 minute performance which resulted in a unanimous decision victory.
The former number one contender in the welterweight division was the aggressor early and often, pinning his shorter opponent against the cage. Fitch’s second takedown of the first round nearly resulted in the only finish of the undercard. The American Kickboxing Academy fighter was unsuccessful with several rear naked choke attempts, which set the tone for the remainder of the fight.
Fitch nearly finished Gono again as the seconds ticked away in the second round. After another failed rear naked choke attempt, Fitch sunk in an arm bar, but was unable to make Gono tap as time expired.
Round three saw a gassed Gono fighting not for the upset victory, but survival. In the final minute, the Japanese fighter attempted a long shot knockout via a series of ill timed roundhouses which were never close to finding a home on Fitch’s bearded face.
The judges scored the bout, 30-27 and 30-26 in favor of Fitch, who wins his ninth bout in the UFC.
Tavares Puts the ‘Pitbull’ in the Kennel
In a back and forth three round light weight war, Thiago Tavares took a step up the lightweight ladder, besting Manvel “the Anvil” Gamburyan by unanimous decision.
With both fighters coming off previous losses, each was eager to get back to winning ways. However, it would be Tavares making the bigger impact early and often, using size to keep the cagy Armenian off balance. Tavares—cornered by MMA great Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira took the “Pitbull” down in the first round and remained active from the top position with a series of shots. Not to be outdone, Gamburyan responded in kind from the bottom.
Neither man was in any danger of being finished, but Tavares landed a big knee in the third round, but was unable to capitalize on it as Gamburyan recovered quickly. Gamburyan—known for being an exceptionally strong and explosive lightweight was unable to keep Tavares on the canvas after a late third round takedown.
All three judges scored the contest 29-28 for Tavares, who moves to 14-3.
Doomsday Takes the Professor to School
John “Doomsday” Howard wowed fans and press alike, taking Chris “the Professor” Wilson to school with a split decision victory.
With much of the bout being a seesaw contest, “Doomsday” asserted himself in a big way in the night’s final round. After a takedown in the opening minutes, Howard, who showed little by way of ground game in the first two rounds, took the back of Wilson.
At several points, Wilson was nearly finished via rear naked choke. In dire straits, Wilson fought through the body triangle and briefly turned the tide, another takedown in the closing seconds of the fight. Wilson, to his credit, remained active throwing elbows from the bottom position.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 Howard (twice) and 29-28 Wilson.
O’Brien Grinds Out Split Decision.
Christian Wellisch responded to his trainers call for a big third round. After ten minutes of action, “Irish” Jake O’Brien seemed to be getting the better of the on the feet exchanges, bloodying the face of Wellisch who appeared to gas in the second.
With a look that would’ve made Hannibal Lecter envious, Wellisch charged forward in the final five minutes of action with a series of wild looping punches and leg kicks. Each time Wellisch threatened, O’Brien seemingly took his adversary down at will. However, O’Brien was unable to do anything from a dominant top position.
As time ticked away in the final round, Wellisch hoped to make a lasting impression on the judges, stuffing O’Brien’s last takedown while landing punches of his own—and bled all over his opponent in the process.
When the bell sounded, Wellisch hopped up like a triumphant fighter, but it was all for naught. The judges scored the bout 29-28 for Wellisch and 29-28 for O’Brien (twice).
Cramer Shines in Professional Debut
Dan Cramer made his professional MMA debut in a big way, opening up UFC 94 with a split decision victory over fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Matt Arroyo.
From the outset, Cramer controlled the action, blanketing his Tampa based opponent.
With two rounds firmly in his favor, the 23-year-old Cramer was nearly upset. In the opening moments of the final round, Arroyo scored quickly with a takedown. After advancing to side control, the novice Cramer quickly surrendered his back and was nearly finished when Arroyo sunk in a rear naked choke after securing a body triangle.
After the near upset, Cramer once again took the top position. With little more than a minute remaining in the round, referee Steve Mazagatti stood the fighters up. When the action resumed, Arroyo went for another takedown, which the 6’2 Cramer stuff en route to maintaining the top position for the remainder of the bout.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 for Cramer (twice) and 29-28 for Arroyo.