St. Pierre overpowers, outworks Penn to retain title at UFC 94
Georges St. Pierre registered a fourth-round TKO of B.J. Penn at UFC 94
St. Pierre will now turn his attention to top welterweight contender Thiago Alves
In the co-main event, Lyoto Machida earned a first-round TKO of Thiago Silva
LAS VEGAS -- Pure talent and athleticism may have been enough for B.J. Penn to stay competitive against UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre for one round, but once St. Pierre turned up the heat "The Prodigy" melted in the Octagon. Takedowns and an unrelenting, suffocating attack on the mat proved too much for the UFC lightweight champ, who was simply overpowered and outworked by St. Pierre on Saturday night at UFC 94.
"It's the best day of my career so far," St. Pierre said of the win, adding that Penn's remarks about his trainers and coaches during the three-week UFC Primetime series leading up the bout served as a motivator for him to stop Penn. "He insulted a lot of people who I really liked. ... it made me very angry, but I didn't fight with my anger."
While Penn's vaunted striking and takedown defense kept the fight competitive in the first round, St. Pierre took over in the second, scoring with jabs on the feet and putting Penn on his back with the single-leg takedown that would become a staple for him throughout the fight. The takedowns became easier for St. Pierre in each successive round, and once on the mat the punches and elbows landed with more force and frequency.
After barely lasting through the fourth round an exhausted and battered Penn was unable to continue and the bout was stopped on the doctor's advice before the start of the fifth.
"A guy can be at his peak conditioning, but the guy who will be less tired is the guy who controls the pace," said St. Pierre. "I fought my fight. B.J. had to fight my fight, so it made him more tired than me. ...I took him out of his comfort zone."
The lone hint of controversy in the bout stemmed from a St. Pierre cornerman allegedly rubbing Vaseline on his fighter's back between rounds one and two, which the Nevada State Athletic Commission immediately put a stop to. Penn's camp filed a formal complaint with the commission after the fight, said UFC president Dana White.
"Whoever did that should be punished," White said. "But Vaseline on a guy's back didn't change the outcome of that fight."
The win solidifies St. Pierre's status as the world's top welterweight, but doesn't earn him the distinction as the sport's best pound-for-pound fighter, according White, who said that title still belongs to UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
"Georges said he was going to come out and dominate B.J. Penn and prove he was the best fighter and I think he did that. I still wouldn't call him pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world."
Up next for St. Pierre is a meeting with top welterweight contender Thiago Alves.
"Thiago Alves is the best guy right now, and I'm glad to fight him."
In the night's co-main event, light heavyweight Lyoto Machida proved that he can be both elusive and dangerous as he stopped Thiago Silva with a knockout just before the horn to end the first round. Often criticized as boring and overly tactical, Machida engaged early and often while at the same time deftly avoiding counterstrikes from Silva.
Machida dropped Silva twice with punches earlier in the round, but it was a leg trip followed by a right hand in the final seconds of the first frame that left Silva unable to continue. After the victory talk turned to the very strong possibility that Machida will be tapped to challenge Rashad Evans for UFC's 205-pound title in the near future. Machida appealed to the crowd's judgment on that front, but White was non-committal about the Brazilian's future.
"We don't have him scheduled to fight Rashad next, but he's in the mix," said White. "He'll probably have a title shot before the end of the year."
In other action at UFC 94:
Light heavyweight Jon Jones shocked Stephan Bonnar with his explosive and at times unorthodox striking attack, nearly finishing the former Ultimate Fighter finalist throughout the first two rounds. Bonnar hung tough and made a game comeback attempt in the final frame as Jones seemed to run out of gas and was content to hold on for the decision victory in a night that had already seen plenty of them.
Clay Guida wrestled his way to a split decision victory over Nate Diaz after struggling at times with the taller fighter's longer reach in the striking game. Though Guida admitted that it "may not have been pretty," his persistent attack proved more impressive to the judges after a close three-round struggle.
After nearly being submitted in the first round, Karo Parisyan rebounded to take a split decision victory over Korean Dong Hyun Kim using his judo throws and strength in the clinch. Parisyan admitted after the bout that Kim was stronger than he expected, but stuck with his gameplan to earn the decision.
Akihiro Gono provided most of the early excitement on the preliminary portion of the card, making his Octagon entrance along with his two cornermen in matching sparking evening gowns and wigs. Once in the cage, however, it was Jon Fitch who took control, taking Gono down and grinding away at him en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Thiago Tavares used sparse, but accurate striking along with takedowns and ground control to edge out Manvel Gamburyan over three rounds in the lightweight division. Gamburyan repeated tried to load up on big right hands, but they rarely found the mark as Tavares frustrated him at every turn.
UFC newcomer John Howard outstruck and outwrestled welterweight Chris Wilson to win a split decision victory, landing the more powerful strikes from the opening minute and impressing the judges with powerful slams in each round.
Christian Wellisch pressed the action in the last two rounds of his fight with Jake O'Brien, but it was O'Brien who won the decision thanks to repeated takedowns and an early flurry that nearly finished Wellisch in the first.
Underdog Matt Cramer made his pro debut with a decision victory over jiu-jitsu specialist Matt Arroyo in the night's first bout. The action was primarily confined to the ground, but Cramer survived a late rear naked choke attempt to win on the judges' scorecards.
MORE UFC 94
GROSS: Live blow-by-blow blog
WHITE'S TAKE: UFC prez says St. Pierre still not No. 1
SALARIES: UFC 94 payroll tops $1M