UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn II – Preview
UFC Welterweight Title Challenge – Georges St.Pierre vs. UFC Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn
Who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world of MMA? The question has been asked regularly for some time. This weekend at UFC 94 the highly anticipated rematch between BJ Penn and GSP is going to help answer that question as BJ Penn attempts to win the Welterweight Championship belt from Georges St.Pierre and avenge his loss from UFC 58 in Las Vegas, March 2006. So a tale of revenge sets the scene for the drama about to unfold inside the UFC cage.
BJ ‘The Prodigy’ Penn is from the warm climate of Hawaii, Georges ‘Rush’ St Pierre hails from icey cold climes of Montreal, north of the American border in Canada. Not only are both mixed martial artists from contrasting parts of the world but we have two fighters from distinctly different backgrounds. GSP a hard working white-collar hero who has worked hard for what he has got, he even worked as a dustman, now you cannot get anymore working class than that! BJ from a wealthy family doesn’t even need the money, so being the best is clearly his motivation.
Throughout January this MMA super clash has been heavily promoted via UFC Primetime show on Spike TV as well as on Ultimate Talk on Setanta Sports in the UK. Penn has not been portrayed well, shown as being lazy taking a break on the Hawaiian beach, making him appear arrogant as if he doesn”t need to train as hard as GSP to win. Penn rightly so was not happy with his portrayal and wanted no more of being filmed for the promotional show. Stylistically St.Pierre is a master Kickboxer and wrestler, whereas the skills of Penn are with the arts of Jiu-Jitsu and boxing. Basically they are both two of the very best most well rounded fighters out there and both on top of their game.
Their last outing went to the scorecards with GSP wining the decision by dominating with his wrestling in two rounds. BJ the Light Weight Champ is going up a weight bracket to fight GSP the Welterweight Champ. Pierre is the bigger man with the size and reach advantage, having seen how devastatingly effective he has been it seems like it will goes his way. Penn claims he was not at his best before but now he is a changed man and an improved fighter.
I can’t decide whom to put my money on between BJ and GSP, but feel Penn is at a slight disadvantage in this fight. My heart says BJ as the underdog but my brain says GSP. Listen to me, don”t I sound like Simon Cowell when he decides to be all fair to the X-Factor contestants, showing us his true Libran traits.
Below are links to UFC on youtube.com to catch up on all the hype in living colour.
- BJ Penn talks fight strategy [YouTube Link]
- UFC Primetime 1/14/09 (1of2) [YouTube Link]
- Part 2 [YouTube Link]
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. Thiago Silva
That is not all folks! Just below the main event super clash there is action from the light heavies as Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida clashes with Thiago Silva. In this bout it is winning streak versus winning streak as the two Brazilian fighters collide in the octagon. Machida is a friend and training partner with the man often referred to as the pound for pound best fighter in the world along with being the current UFC Middle Weight title holder, he is none other than Anderson “The Spider” Silva! Now for starters some of that magic has got to rub off onto Lyoto. Machida is known as an elusive fighter, landing quick punches. “The Dragon” an expert in Shotokan Karate, a style most fighters are not used to. My prediction is a win for Machida continuing his winning streak sending up the lead towards a challenge for Rashad Evans light heavyweight crown.
Here”s the rest of the main card:
- Welterweight bout: Karo Parisyan vs.Dong Hyun KimConsidered by many, Karo to be the first UFC fighter to have successfully adapted his Judo style for the UFC Octagon, he is the likely winner in this winner.
- Lightweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Clay GuidaI”m backing Diaz, he impresses me with his Jiu-Jitsu and the guy has a lot of heart to win.
- Light Heavyweight bout: Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones
In the stacked Light Heavyweight Division of the UFC two new fights have been booked by the matchmakers. Rampage vs. Jardine is scheduled for UFC 96, then at UFC 97 Liddell takes on Shogun. Don”t forget that landmark event UFC is getting closer. This mammoth show will take place July 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas. Rumours are spreading over the web that all titles will be defended or is that just some fans dream pay per view? All titles being contested would make it fun but would it be a case of overkill? Where would they go next following a pay per view like that?
UFC 93 – Review
Last weekend the UFC debuted in the Republic of Ireland at the Dublin 02. Headlining the pay per view was two top match ups in the Light Heavyweight division put together by UFC management. Rich Franklin versus Dan “Hendo” Henderson and “Shogun” Rua pitted against Mark Coleman. Skipping to the top end of the event let”s see how the action went down round by round for Dublin”s first UFC PPV.
Mark “The Hammer” Coleman vs. Shogun Rua
The background to this fight is the return to a hot rivalry in Pride FC, last time Coleman won by default since Rua was injured. To various UFC enthusiasts it was not a fair decisive win since the injury was an accident. Coleman viewed it differently, he was the clear victor breaking his opponent”s bone. Neither fighter had fought for some time, with Rua returning from injury since his last outing in the Octagon. Really it could be seen as a test to see if both men were back in fighting form and worthy of being at the top of a UFC card. Of course from a ticket and pay per view sales point of view they are great booked in the joint main event but were they both at the top of their game? Another point to note is both fighters are former Pride fighters and thus far not all the Pride fighters have proven their worth in the American big league. Also Coleman is an aging warrior dropping weight from heavyweight to light heavyweight for the first time. It is also worth noting Coleman has not fought in the UFC for a decade when he left for the big bucks (or should that be Yen?) of the Orient. Originally a year ago Coleman was scheduled to fight the now UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, which would have been his return to the UFC. So going into this the odds looked against UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman. The hotly tipped Rua still had to prove himself though having been talked of as the best light heavyweight in the world before joining the UFC.
Shogun kicks Coleman but Coleman takes him down to the canvas of the cage to neutralise his attack using immense wrestling skills and sheer power. Shogun utilises his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu once on his back where he wants to be. Throughout round one the majority of the action is contested on the ground, Rua looks good attempting many submissions. As the round draws to a close the older fighter Coleman appears out of gas showing the affects of cutting weight for his light heavyweight debut. Brazilian Rua goes on the attack with strikes finding an opening but gets taken down back the deck by Coleman, who does not want to stand up and exchange blows.
Going into round two Rua comes out the aggressor taking charge of the fight once again using a barrage of strikes, but as before returning UFC veteran Coleman shoots in dragging the fight back to the deck. When the action does return to the upright position Coleman looks horrible, Rua just picks him off at his will. Coleman seems to be taking far too much punishment. As witnessed before, Coleman not having the stamina in the stand up does what he knows best by taking Shogun down but Coleman is not in control, as Rua neutralises Coleman”s Yang with his Yin defending from his back. Shogun cannily catches the wrestler in an Omo Palata attempting a tap-out win. So a gripping end to the second round but Rua didn”t quite have what was required to get the job done.
Amazingly the fight has reached the third and final round, but both competitors look exhausted. Action continues in the same vein mostly on the canvas seeing Rua taking the advantage in the ground grappling stakes, but Coleman the amateur wrestling trained fighter switches it around taking Shogun”s back beating at him with his famed ground and pound onslaught. Rua skilfully postures up escaping Coleman”s clutches going straight in for a vicious knee. Coleman is a downed opponent so Rua is warned for this violation of the UFC rules, unlike back in the old Japanese Pride fighting league. Both mixed martial artists get a breather then the action is restarted standing up.
In truth taking into account all the opportunities Shogun has had throughout the fight he should have beaten veteran Coleman but Rua is exhausted as well. Then finally Rua achieves the TKO win knocking down Coleman and the referee calls a stop to the bout. At first Coleman protests angrily with the referee because of the stoppage afterwards but once the decision had been officially announced he showed respect to Shogun the better man on the night by embracing the victor and raising his hand. In the post fight interview Coleman declared he would relish a rematch continuing their rivalry. I would be interested to know if Mark Coleman will actually remain fighting in the Light Heavyweight Division of the UFC. Rua had a clear disadvantage over Coleman due to the fact Coleman had to drop weight before the contest. I believe previously when they fought in Pride FC it was all part of an open weight tournament not requiring either MMA fighter to make weight. Overall tonight”s bout didn”t see either fighter on top form but it was still a damn good brawl for the Irish fans in attendance.
Rich Franklin vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson
In the second half of the co main event we return to the Light Heavyweight Division of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. No title fights on the bill, but there is a storyline building up here for a major confrontation. You see the winner decides the opposing coach for British mixed martial artist Michael “The Count” Bisping for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Plus on top of that the two TUF team coaches will face each other later in the year once the ninth season of the reality TV series closes
Entering the octagon each fighter has film star looks in comparison to the fight battered face of MMA veteran Mark Coleman, with Hendo appearing like a perfect action hero where as baby faced Franklin closely resembles funny man Jim Carrey. This time the match up rather than being between two fighters from the now defunct Pride league we see Pride vs. UFC. Hendo the Olympic pedigree wrestler made his name as a mixed martial artist winning belts in Japan, most notably a dual title holder. Franklin on the other hand is viewed as a UFC creation. So for the pro wrestling fans out there it is comparable to AJ Styles wrestling Kurt Angle or Triple H against Sting (hmm” the latter will probably never happen).
Not long into the round Henderson slips going in for the attack and gets taken down by Franklin. Hendo the superior wrestler not surprisingly manages to turn it around taking control on the canvas. As the round continues Rich breaks free of Hendo”s grasp bringing the action back upright turning the match into a boxing contest. Franklin has excellent movement on his feet looking very agile with his longer frame. Some exciting brawling takes place with Rich the taller fighter taking a slight edge over Henderson but right at the close of the round Jim Carrey look-alike Franklin sustains a nasty gash as Henderson accidentally head butts his opponent.
The second round is soon underway as the fight continues with both men scrapping it out. Hendo sneaks the advantage utilising his wrestling skills crashing Franklin to the deck to unleash a ground and pound onslaught. Franklin defends himself the only way he can by squirming on his back in an attempt to avoid the blows. Franklin survives from beneath but can he overcome veteran Henderson to come out the winner for the opportunity to coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter?
Into the third and final round, Hendo sticks to his game plan soon taking the top position on the ground game overpowering Franklin. Again Rich defends well using his
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expertise, jostling for position beneath Hendo. It pays off for Franklin who valiantly wrestles back to his feet fighting back in the clinch. The fight soon returns to an exchange of kicks and punches with both men on their feet. Following Henderson using a lot of energy overpowering Franklin on the ground Rich actually looked dominant displaying more energy in his movement. During the exchanges Rich receives an accidental poke to the eye resulting in a two minute timeout.
With little time remaining, both fighters go full pelt at each other. At this point overall it is fair to say the fight appeared pretty even. So it goes to the judges as neither fighter could pull it out of the bag to end it with a knockout or tap-out. The win goes to Henderson by a split decision.
So we now we know who Michael “The Count” Bisping will have as his opposite coach on TUF 9 as it will be team USA to battle team UK.
Taking a look at the rest of the Dublin event from the start the Irish fans were treated to a crowd pleaser from adopted Brit Marcus Davis who made his entrance to the cage wearing a kilt to the sound of classic party anthem “Jump Around” by American Irish Hip Hoppers the House of Pain”s. The “Irish Hand Grenade” was clearly the fan favourite playing on his Gaelic heritage against his opponent Chris “Lights Out” Lytle. Both combatants are former pro boxers who decided to keep the fighting to their styles rather than attempting to win via tap-out. This bout would be a huge contrast to what was at the top of the bill. We saw two guys compete putting on a damn good scrap but are they really fully rounded as MMA fighters? Not really from what we saw. If either fighter took it to the ground instead of sticking to strikes it may have given him the advantage by attempting to win that way. After all that is what makes the sport of MMA so uniquely different compared to Boxing. The split decision nod went to Marcus Davis, to the pleasure of the Dublin fans in attendance.
Next we saw Denis Kang a Pride FC veteran making his debut against Alan Belcher. Here was another opportunity to see a former Pride warrior battle within the confides of the UFC cage. Both men are veterans of MMA with Kang being hugely over in Korea. Kang looked impressive initially, especially with his ground game, looking the stronger grappler. Clearly he is comfortable in the cage, so no problem adapting from the
squared-circle to the octagon. Despite looking dominate as a grappler giving a good first impression he loses by making a fatal mistake as he shoots in, Belcher neutralises his attack cinching in a tight guillotine hold snatching the tap-out win.
Other action from the Irish pay per view was between the highly experienced submission-specialist Jeremy Horn facing another tap-out master Rousimar Palhares. Horn has an extensive fight record including more than 50 wins by submission and a win over Forest Griffin the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion plus the experience of fighting UFC legends Dan “The Beast” Severn and Randy “The Natural” Couture. Not surprisingly the vast majority of the action took place on the deck. Palhares throughout the fight dominated Horn. Palhares looked awesome with his submission attempts and pulled out a wicked suplex in round three! Horn clearly a very durable fighter showed us a lot of heart. Overall Palhares controlled the fight but never came that close to finishing seasoned MMA vet Horn. Palhares received a unanimous decision on the scorecards.
Lastly before the double main event bouts Irish lad Tom Egan debuted as hometown fan favourite versus London shoot fighter John Hathaway. Despite the home crowd advantage Egan could not overcome the superior wrestling of English fighter John “The Hitman” Hathaway. The London Shoot Fighter beat the TKO win out Egan via some awesome ground and pound. Seeing as us Brits are not known for an amateur wrestling pedigree in recent years it was great see to such an impressive wrestler in action from the UK.