The night began with a full house and electric energy in the air. Everyone was definitely hyped for the rematch of the 170 pound gladiators as well as a showdown between two undefeated Light Heavyweights looking for a shot at the title. Unfortunately the night also began with two fairly unentertaining fights, taking the wind out of the crowd, the television viewers and even the bright red ball of excitement Joe Rogan.
The first fight on the Pay Per View Card was between Clay “The Carpenter” Guida and Nate Diaz. Both these fighters love appealing to the crowd, Guida with his energy and enthusiasm and Diaz with his “kid from the streets” swagger and cocky attitude. Unfortunately the fight between these two did not live up to their respective personalities. Diaz took a few swings in the middle of the octagon but no real damage was done. The fight was won in what was described as “true Guida fashion”. This consists of a few takedowns while defending the patented Nate Diaz triangle chokes, and hanging on the back of Diaz giving him no room to maneuver. The strategy was effective and frustrating, both to the fans and to Diaz, yet it was enough for Guida to land a split decision.
The restless crowd was now ready for some excitement; unfortunately they instead received Dong Hyun Kim vs. Karo Parisyan.
Parisyan was battling injuries as well as a mess of other past problems such as panic attacks, so it did take a certain amount of drive and commitment to get back into the octagon. The fight featured two men who are both known for outstanding Judo. This however did not make for a very aggressive match up. There were a few good takedowns in which Parisyan lost his moth guard (twice). The next several minutes consisted of not much action and a discussion between Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg on the importance of a custom fit mouth guard-as I said a very exciting fight. In the end Parisyan was victorious both in his battle of adversity and the Judo competition.
Things began to heat up after Parisyan left the ring- ironically enough- in the fight between Stephan Bonnar and UFC new comer Jon Jones.
Bonnar also had an injury leaving him sidelined for 15 long months. I am still uncertain if it was the time off Bonnar took or if Jones is such a freakishly large, fast athlete that made this fight slightly one sided. I am currently leaning towards the latter. Jones displayed massive amounts of athleticism both in his striking and his take downs. Both men are 6’4 but Jon Jones enjoyed a reach advantage both in his arms and legs. Jones was dominant through the first round, highlighting it with a spinning back elbow that left Bonnar dazed on the matt. In true Stephan Bonnar fashion he did not give up, and in fact stormed to the middle of the ring to start round 2. Jones again looked fast and relentless in his take downs, but this was clearly taking a toll on his stamina. By round 3 Jones was inhaling heavily but was confident he won the previous two rounds therefore he did just enough to fend off Stephan Bonnars’ attacks and claim a majority decision. Bonnar was clearly disappointed with the way he fought but Jones is a rising star who is beginning to build a name for himself, and Bonnar will be back.
The Co Main Event followed and offered up plenty for the fans to cheer about. In this match two undefeated Light Heavyweights took center stage looking to punch their ticket as top contender. In round one Silva was the “aggressor” by this I mean he followed the elusive, ever moving Machida, who sat back and took little punishment while capitalizing on Silva’s desire to inflict pain. Machida connected twice knocking Silva down but was unable to follow up with more punishment. It was not until the final ten seconds of the round that Machida executed a take down, immediately followed by him pouncing on Silva while simultaneously landing a hard right. He connected with another left at the very moment the horn sounded but Silva was already out, unable to return to his corner.
This was a very impressive performance by an incredibly calm, relaxed striker in Lyoto Machida. The upcoming fight between this kid and Rashad Evans should be very exciting, especially if Machida can take advantage of Evans’ aggressiveness.
“AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT” (Insert Bruce Buffers’ voice).
Everyone was ready for this fight all night, the electric energy in the crowd had returned, the lights were out, the entry music loud, and Joe Rogan had goose bumps. It was time for a long awaited rematch between George St. Pierre and BJ Penn.
The thing with championship fights is they offer the fighters an opportunity to feel one another out in the first round, where three round fights, the first is incredibly important, the five round title bouts give the fighters a chance to take in the atmosphere, feel out the fighter and get calmed down.
This was how the first round of this title fight was last night. Round one consisted of GSP continually working (without much success) to get Penn to the ground, with Penn landing a few shots sporadically. Good sign for BJ Penn fans.
Round Two began in a similar fashion with Penn and St. Pierre exchanging a few blows before GSP scored a take down and was in and out of Penn’s guard. GSP was able to land a few good blows, mainly elbows, leaving a wound under the left eye of BJ Penn. For the most part Penn looked cool and composed on the ground, like usual, working his incredibly flexible legs to jog for the best available position. Round two to St. Pierre.
The trend continued in round three, a few nice jabs from Georges before executing another take down. Penn ate a few hammer fists before recovering to his feet for a brief moment. Before the round came to a close St. Pierre was able to land yet another take down, ending round three on top of BJ.
As if the crowd was having a severe case of déjà vu, round four began with a brief exchange, then GSP shooting and successfully scoring a take down. St. Pierre was able to move in and out of BJ’s guard at will, which no other contender has done. This proved detrimental for Penn, he was continuously barraged with elbows and hammer fists, at short distances, not seeming to cause too much damage, but Penn was at the will of the champion. As the final minute ticked down on round four GSP increased both the speed and intensity of his strikes, landing them flush and often. The horn sounded and both men returned to their respective corners, Penn in bad shape.
While in the corner being examined by his brothers and medical staff, it was found in the best interest for BJ to not continue the fight.
This title defense by GSP was simply methodical. He felt out a game plan in the first round that Penn defended, but Georges stuck with it. He used his reach early in rounds to land jabs and continued a resilient quest to take Penn to the matt. GSP was successful in the rounds to come, showcasing excellent wrestling and a very impressive ground and pound.
This fight certainly secured the still growing legacy of George St. Pierre. I look forward to continue watching this kid evolve and to see how Penn responds after moving back down to 155 and defending his title.
I’m sure neither will disappoint.
– Brian LeBaron