Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre dominated lightweight title-holder B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn on Saturday night, winning by technical knockout when a battered Penn was saved further punishment after four rounds of their marquee mixed martial arts matchup at UFC 94.
The one-sided fight was stopped by referee Herb Dean, on the advice of the doctors. Penn’s corner concurred.
The 27-year-old from Montreal, who won a split decision when the two met at UFC 58 in March 2006, put on a clinic. By the end of the fourth round he was having his way with Penn on the ground and using his head like a punching bag.
“Last time I won by decision. This time I really wanted to take him out and I’m glad that I did it,” St. Pierre (18-2) said in the cage.
Penn did not attend the post-fight news conference.
“He got beat up, so we sent him to hospital,” said UFC president Dana White.
The judges had scored the first four rounds 40-35, 40-34, 40-34 for the Canadian, who did a backflip in the cage to celebrate.
The fight was contested at 170 pounds – St. Pierre’s weight class. Penn, 30, retains his 155-pound lightweight belt. St. Pierre enhances his reputation.
“It was a kick-ass fight,” White said. “He came in and did exactly what he said he was going to do and he dominated one of the best fighters in the world.”
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva could be down the line for St. Pierre, to decide who is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. But welterweight contender Thiago Alves is next.
St. Pierre’s purse was US$400,000, including a $200,000 win bonus, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Penn got $125,000, missing out on a win bonus of $125,000.
Both fighters will make more since the UFC does not disclose other bonuses or any cut of the pay-per-view revenue.
The show drew 14,885 and a gate of US$4.3 million.
Penn (13-5-1) walked out first, to Hawaiian music and resounding cheers, wearing a “Hawaiian Unity” T-shirt. Then came St. Pierre – to equally loud cheers and pulsating French hip-hop. Both men looked ready for business.
Chants of “GSP” and “B.J. Penn” had started three fights into the card, setting Canadian flags waving in the sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
St. Pierre tied up Penn early, taking him to the fence in a clinch and looking for a takedown. Penn resisted and the two traded blows away from the fence. The St. Pierre strategy seemed clear, tire Penn out while blunting his strong striking game.
“I fought my fight. B.J. had to fight my fight,” said St. Pierre. “So it made him more tired than me. … I put him out of his comfort zone.”
It was more of the same in the second and St. Pierre took Penn down early from a clinch at the fence, landing heavy blows from on top as the crowd chanted “GSP”. Penn took a lot of punishment in the round and St. Pierre returned to his corner, getting a thumbs up from Muay Thai coach Phil Nurse.
Penn looked tired and battered.
In the third, the Canadian busted open Penn’s nose with a stinging jab and the blood started to flow. Penn went down again, but fought his way back up and tried unsuccessfully for a takedown of his own at the fence. St. Pierre stuffed it and then took out Penn’s legs, hurting the Hawaiian again from above.
St. Pierre still looked fresh. Penn looked frustrated as the round ended.
St. Pierre started the fourth with a few crisp blows and a takedown, working his way to side control. He trapped Penn’s arms and punched away. Penn was taking a beating and it was time to end it.
“I think Georges St. Pierre gets better every time he fights, which is scary,” said White, adding Penn’s next outing will be a lightweight title defence against Kenny Florian.
In the co-main event, Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida looked razor-sharp in stopping Thiago Silva in a matchup of unbeaten Brazilian light-heavyweights.
Silva stalked the elegant Machida from the beginning and soon paid a price. Machida (14-0) knocked him down twice with clean head shots and ended it with one second left in the first round, tripping Silva and then smashing the prone fighter on the chin for a KO.
Silva (13-1) was unable to get up for a while.
“People, do I deserve a title shot?” asked Machida, getting a resounding cheer in response.
Light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was watching cageside.
Machida had been criticized in some quarters for not finishing his opponents. But he crushed Silva, a predator in his own right.
Of the eight other fights on the card, all went to a decision with five of those split verdicts.
Light-heavyweight Jon (Bones) Jones used his speed and unorthodox moves to earn a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over a befuddled Stephan (The American Psycho) Bonnar.
The 21-year-old Jones (8-0) laid a beating on Bonnar in the first round, punishing him with everything from a spinning back elbow to a simple knee to the face. The former junior college wrestling champion took Bonnar (14-5) down repeatedly in the fight, with a variety of slick moves.
Bonnar, who had been inactive since UFC 77 in October 2007 because of knee surgery, never quit. But he could not solve Jones.
Lightweight Clay (The Carpenter) Guida won a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Nick Diaz, snapping a five-fight win streak for the champion of Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show. Guida – the Energizer Bunny of the 155-pound ranks – has now posted back-to-back victories over TUF winners, defeating Season 6 champ Mac Danzig last time out.
The six-foot Diaz had five inches on Guida and used his reach advantage to win the standup war early on. But Guida (25-6) eventually was able to use his wrestling skills to control Diaz (10-3), who was unable to get his jiu-jitsu game into gear.
Welterweight Karo (The Heat) Parisyan scored a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over South Korean Dong Hyun (Stun Gun) Kim in a matchup of judo black belts. Parisyan (27-5), whose career has been slowed by panic attacks and a back problem recently, looked soft and sluggish but managed to hang on for the win. Kim (11-1-1) started strongly but did not do enough in the third round.
On the preliminary card, welterweight Jon Fitch (22-3, with one no contest) bounced back from a loss to St. Pierre at UFC 87 in August by dominating Japanese veteran Akihiro Gono en route to a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Gono (28-14-7) is known for his flamboyant entrances and did not disappoint, coming in wearing a backless metallic cocktail dress, wig and heels with his two male cornermen similarly dressed. All three stopped to dance in unison, a la Supremes, en route to the cage.
White said he liked the show, adding: “But when you wear a dress, you probably better win.”
Fitch, a 5-1 favourite, then entered more traditionally to Johnny Cash’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage.” On the other side of the Octagon, Gono’s corner were frantically trying to change out of their evening apparel. They didn’t entirely succeed and one of his cornermen worked the fight in a dress slit to the thigh and a T-shirt.
Sadly, the fight didn’t really live up to the entrance. Fitch, bigger and more powerful, controlled the fight from the get-go but was unable to finish the cagey Gono.
Earlier, UFC newcomer John (Doomsday) Howard won a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Chris (The Professor) Wilson in an entertaining up-and-down welterweight fight. At 5-7, Howard (11-4) was giving up six inches to Wilson (13-5 with one no contest) but proved to be a handful both on his feet and on the ground.
Brazilian lightweight Thiago Tavares used his size advantage to claim a unanimous decision over five-foot-five Manvel (The Anvil) Gamburyan.
(Irish) Jake O’Brien won a split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28) over Christian (The Hungarian Nightmare) Wellisch in a bout that saw both men drop down to light-heavyweight from heavyweight.
Welterweight Dan Cramer won his pro debut by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Matt Arroyo in a battle of TUF alumni.
Howard-Wilson and Guida-Diaz each got fight of the night honours, with the fighters each getting $65,000. Machida got $65,000 for knockout of the night.