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UFC 94 Recap: St. Pierre dominates Penn in battle of belt holders

Las Vegas — It was supposed to be an epic clash between reigning champions in two separate weight classes. Instead, the UFC 94 main event between welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and lightweight champion B.J. Penn proved to be a one-sided rout that saw Penn’s corner throw in the towel following the completion of the fourth round.

A capacity crowd inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena saw St. Pierre show no concern for Penn’s renowned guard by taking the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt down almost seemingly at will. While on the ground, St. Pierre used an array of punches, elbows, and even knees to the ribs to demoralize and frustrate Penn.

Penn’s ability to mount offense against St. Pierre was limited to several exchanges in the standup. However, even when the two fighters weren’t on the mat, a case could be made that St. Pierre even got the better of Penn while the two were on their feet.

St. Pierre’s striking was an afterthought in comparison to his ground and pound as it proved the difference Saturday night. Despite not having wrestled in high school or college, St. Pierre’s wrestling display against Penn was nothing short of world class. A versatile fighter who cross trains in boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu, St. Pierre was able to control his counterpart for almost the entire 20 minutes of the fight’s duration.

Penn, considered by most pundits as the number one lightweight in the world and also a top five pound-for-pound ranked fighter, simply lacked the strength and stamina to keep up with the aggressive pace established by St. Pierre midway through the first round.

As the fight wore on, St. Pierre gained more and more momentum with Penn unable to show any threat of turning the tide and mounting a comeback. The lopsided fourth round prompted Penn’s manager and brother, J.D. Penn, a former EliteXC executive, to throw in the towel. Referee Herb Dean acknowledged Penn’s corner by calling a stop to the fight and giving St. Pierre a fourth round TKO victory.

The victory marked the second time in which St. Pierre has recorded a win over Penn. The two previously fought at UFC 58 in March of 2006 with St. Pierre earning a split decision win. Now having improved his overall MMA record to 18-2 and his UFC record to 14-2, he is considered likely to make his next title defense in the coming months against current number one contender Thiago Alves.

The loss for Penn dropped his overall MMA record to 13-5-1 and his career UFC record to 9-4-1. Still recognized as the UFC’s lightweight champion, Penn will likely return to 155 pounds for his next fight and defend his belt against current top contender Kenny Florian.

Stacked with 10 total bouts, UFC 94 also featured a co-main event between unbeaten Brazilians Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva. Machida improved to 14-0 while Silva fell to 13-1 after Machida recorded a first round TKO.

Machida, trained in the traditional martial art of Karate, has earned a reputation for being an elusive fighter lacking a crowd pleasing style. However, he showed improved aggression during the Silva fight and was able to knock down the American Top Team fighter with inside punches on two separate occasions.

With his record in the UFC now standing at 6-0 with notable wins over Silva, Tito Ortiz, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, and Kazuhiro Nakamura, Machida may have potentially moved into a position for a shot at current light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had been expected to challenge for the title first but with Evans unable to commit to fighting in the next several months and the UFC needing a main event for its UFC 96 show in March, he was signed to fight Keith Jardine instead. The UFC could elect to either wait to see if Jackson wins against Jardine and book him to face Evans or Machida could be signed for Evans’ first-ever defense.

In other action, Karo Parisyan made a successful return to the Octagon after having been idle since last April. Facing a game opponent in South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim, Parisyan recorded a split decision victory that was met with several boos from the crowd after the outcome had been announced.

Rookie Jon Jones improved his overall record to 8-0 by utilizing his dynamic striking ability en route to a unanimous decision victory over season one light heavyweight runner up from The Ultimate Fighter, Stephan Bonnar.

During the show’s televised opener, Clay Guida handed season five TUF lightweight champion Nate Diaz his first-ever UFC loss by grinding out a split decision victory.

In non-televised undercard action, Dan Cramer was successful in his pro debut by recording a split decision victory over Matt Arroyo while Jake O’Brien won his first fight as a light heavyweight with a split decision victory over Christian Wellisch.

UFC newcomer John Howard also showed tremendous poise and strength with a split decision victory over Chris Wilson and lightweight prospect Thiago Tavares snapped a two fight losing streak with a unanimous decision victory over Manny Gamburyan.

The preliminary portion of the card was closed out by former UFC welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch dominating Akihiro Gono during in a unanimous decision victory. The former PRIDE star caused quite a stir by walking to the cage in drag complete with a choreographed dance routine.

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