St. Pierre defends title at UFC 129; sets sights on Silva
TORONTO — His left eye was swollen shut.
He was being examined at a local hospital while others were discussing their efforts.
He was the winner.
Georges St. Pierre successfully defended his Welterweight Title by winning a five-round unanimous decision over challenger Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto’s Rogers Centre Saturday night. St. Pierre handed Shields his first loss since December 2004 to improve to 22-2. Shields fell to 26-5-1.
Shields did not seem prepared for stand-up fight, which was the strategy St. Pierre employed. The champion spent the first two rounds throwing overhand punches which caused Shields not to try for takedowns. As the fight progressed, Shields was able to connect with punches including a straight to St. Pierre’s face in the third round.
“I hit him in the eye,” Shields deadpanned when asked to analyze what happened. However St. Pierre was never in serious danger of losing the fight which was a competitive and commercial success for the UFC.
White reported Saturday night’s event set records with 55,000 tickets sold and a $12.075 million gate. The previous highs were 23,000 tickets sold for UFC 100 and a $5.3 million gate at UFC 66.
Now, after arguably one of the great events in the organization’s history, UFC will look to do more stadium shows in the foreseeable future. White mentioned Cowboys Stadium in passing during his post-fight remarks. He was quick to point out that stadium shows would work for “certain fights.”
Perhaps St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva?
“Don’t know. There are always newer challenges. I’ve got to talk to (St. Pierre),” White said when that fight was suggested to him. “I believe in guys cleaning out a division and (then) moving up.” Later when pressed, White said there “never have been any talks about it. (It’s) not even a reality yet.”
Whatever and whenever UFC’s next stadium event occurs, it will face a yeoman’s challenge just to meet the bar set Saturday night. The crowd was loud from the preliminary fights through the main event and the fighters admitted that they were affected by Rogers Centre’s immense size and the 55,000 in attendance.
“There (are) so many people; it’s hard to stay relaxed in there. I didn’t know I caught him until he went down. He was jabbing and then I just caught him with the hook. I was a little worried because it was a late-notice fight, but I came out with the win so I was happy about that,” said Jake Ellenberger, who defeated Toronto’s Sean Pierson with a first round knockout. Ellenberger staggered Pierson with an overhand left hook before finishing with several punches to the jaw.
“Mentally, I was ready to go three rounds but nothing can get you ready for that crowd. I’ve been to a lot of UFC shows, but I’ve never heard anything like that. It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to stay relaxed in there.”
Ellenberger was one of the few American fighters to defeat Canadian counterparts as 10 of the 12 fights on Saturday’s card were matchups involving Canadian fighters and American fighters.
Pablo Garza submitted Yves Jabouin via triangle choke in the first round of the night’s first fight. John Makdessi dropped Kyle Watson with a spinning back fist to the chin for a third round TKO. Ryan Jensen tapped to Edmonton’s Jason MacDonald’s triangle in the first round. Ivan Menjivar knocked out Charlie Valencia in the first round with a forearm to the face and flurry of punches from the mount. Toronto’s Claude Patrick earned a unanimous decision over Daniel Roberts.
Rory MacDonald dominated Nate Diaz for three rounds to win by unanimous decision. MacDonald’s punches and kicks kept Diaz off balance in the first two rounds. MacDonald pressed the issue in the third with three suplexes and punches.
“He turned and exposed his back to me and that’s a pretty natural movement for me. I feel very strong in that position. He kept turning his back to me. I was really surprised by the third one. I felt like I was going to keep slamming him until the end of the round,” MacDonald said about his suplexes. He then spoke of Diaz, who fell to 13-7. “I respected his skill level. He’s a very durable guy. I trained the defense to the kimura a lot. I didn’t feel threatened by the kimura. He wasn’t in position for it. I was on the offensive at that point.”
Ben Henderson won a three round, 30-27, unanimous decision over Toronto’s Mark Bocek. Vladimir Matyushenko knocked out Jason Brilz 22 seconds into the first round. Randy Couture’s career ended 65 seconds into the second round via a Lyoto Machida front kick, while Jose Aldo retained his Featherweight Title in a five round decision over Mark Hominick.