UFC 94 Recap

February 1, 2009

Georges St. Pierre headlined an action-packed, Saturday night fight card at UFC 94 in Las Vegas, and much to the delight of his boisterous Canadian fans, he retained his UFC welterweight title via a convincing 4th Round TKO stoppage of lightweight champion BJ Penn.

Displaying his superb all-around hybrid fighting style, St. Pierre dominated his tough Hawaiian challenger throughout. The win gave St. Pierre his fifth consecutive victory, and improved his career UFC record to 18-2. More importantly, the win solidified St. Pierre's position, shared with Brazil's Anderson Silva, atop the mythical pound-for-pound ratings.

For Penn, the fight showed yet again that he is without question one of the toughest competitors in the sport. However, that toughness translated into few, if any, offensive highlights against St. Pierre. Quite simply, Penn was outclassed throughout the fight.

St. Pierre began the fight attempting a pair of single leg takedowns, for which Penn's defense proved to be solid. St Pierre then backed Penn up against the cage, leaning against his much smaller opponent and working towards a takedown. The two spent the last minute or so of the opening round alternately trading punches and still-cautious kicks.

About a minute into the second round, St. Pierre finally was able to take Penn down to the ground. From there, St. Pierre landed a couple of elbows, followed by a huge left hand that clearly stunned the grounded Penn, and allowed St. Pierre to pass his normally inpenetrable guard. St. Pierre was able to control Penn from the mount position for the rest of the frame, and won the round definitively.

Round 3 provided perhaps the perfect synopsis of the fight in a nutshell:

St. Pierre elected to stand and strike, showcasing his underrated striking game. He hit Penn with thudding left jabs, and his trademark leaping "Superman Punch," blasting Penn right on the button. Penn took it in stride, once again showing his unparalleled toughness. Still, the solid and effective strikes enabled St. Pierre to once again take Penn down and control him for much of the round. St. Pierre would then close out the round raining punches and elbows down on Penn, who remained in quite a perilous position.

In between rounds 3 and 4, ringside observers could be seen desperately trying to encourage Penn, but it seemed as if St. Pierre had already begun to beat some of the fighting spirit out of the challenger.

Round 4 saw more of the same, as St. Pierre elected to continue with his successful strategy from the earlier rounds, grounding and then pounding a discouraged and fatigued Penn. At this stage of the fight, Penn clearly had no answers for St. Pierre's offense. St Pierre hit the Hawaiian fan-favorite with everything but the kitchen sink, raining down punches, elbows, and knees to the ribs of his nearly defenseless opponent until the bell sounded.

Following the bell, Penn struggled to his feet and slowly made his way back to his corner, where a ringside doctor evaluated his condition. After the evaluation by the state-appointed physician, the referee elected to stop the fight, rightfully making the correct decision that Penn wasn't fit to continue.

Despite the loss -- which dropped Penn to 13-5 in the UFC -- he still remains UFC lightweight champion, and should continue to be a fan favorite.

Immediately after the fight, St. Pierre made the following comments regarding his big win:

"Last time (we fought) I won a decision, and this time I really wanted to take him out, and I'm glad that I did it." Of Penn, St. Pierre said, "He's very tough."

Then in a shrewd marketing move by UFC President and head honcho Dana White, welterweight prospect and top challenger Thiago Alves was in the Octagon afterwards to begin hyping and drawing up interest for what will likely be a summertime showdown between the two top welterweights.

In the co-featured bout of the evening, Brazilian Lyoto Machida remained undefeated by stopping Thiago Silva in a brutal knockout that came mere seconds before the end of the first round. In knocking the previously unbeaten Silva out cold, the cerebral Machida likely solidified his claim on the light heavyweight division's number one contender slot.

Here's hoping that White and UFC matchmaker extraordinaire Joe Silva do the right thing and pair the brutally efficient Machida with Rampage Jackson. That matchup would surely be a crowd-pleaser because both men have such distinct fighting styles. Although marketing the humble Machida could prove difficult, his traditional Shotokan karate style is certain to be problematic for any potential opponent. There are a number of tantalizing fights to be made pitting Machida against top-flight competitors, including Forrest Griffin or Rashard Evans.

Speaking of light heavyweights, newcomer Jon Jones did himself a favor by earning a unanimous decision victory over Stephan Bonner. In easily defeating Bonner, the 21 year-old Jones, still extremely inexperienced with barely a year of MMA training under his belt, signaled his arrival as a prospect to watch in an already-crowded light heavyweight division.

Jones effectively used his long limbs, impressive athleticism, and excellent leverage to execute a number of powerful throws against "Ultimate Fighter" alum Bonner, who was coming off well over a year of inactivity. Should Jones continue to work hard and gain experience, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the UFC.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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