TORONTO – Georges St. Pierre's unparalleled consecutive rounds won streak came to an end, but his winning streak rolled forward. St. Pierre retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight championship Saturday before a record crowd at the Rogers Center with a rout of surprisingly ineffective top challenger Jake Shields in the main event of UFC 129.
An elite wrestler and grappler, Shields never came close to getting St. Pierre off his feet and spent most of the night eating jabs. It wasn't much different from the way that St. Pierre manhandled Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 in December, other than the fact that Shields didn't sustain as much damage.
Judges had it 48-46 twice and 50-45 for St. Pierre. Yahoo! Sports favored the champion, 50-45.
Shields was bleeding from a cut under his right eye, as well as his nose and mouth. But St. Pierre said he gave his performance an "F" and wasn't eager to talk about a super fight with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
He raved about Shields, saying he was "better than I expected" and that Shields was strong on his feet.
"His striking was much better than I thought," St. Pierre said of Shields. "He closed my eye."
St. Pierre said he couldn't see out of his left eye and said it hampered him in his efforts to try to finish the fight.
Jose Aldo retained his UFC featherweight title with a unanimous decision over Mark Hominick, but it was Hominick who came out the big winner. Hominick was beaten and battered for four rounds by the hard-hitting champion and had a baseball-sized hematoma on the right side of his head.
But Hominick managed to get Aldo onto his back in the fifth and landed a series of hard shots from the top, bringing the crowd alive and back into the fight. Hominick didn't do enough to win the fight, but he didn't quit when he had every reason to and nearly pulled it out.
Judges favored Aldo, 48-45, 48-46 and 49-46. Yahoo! Sports had it 49-46 for Aldo.
Hominick's wife is due with the couple's first child in only a few days and Hominick joked about it after the fight.
"First off, I just want to say to my wife, I hope I didn't put you into labor," he said, beaming, as his eyes were swollen badly and blood streamed from several cuts. "I know you're due any minute. I love you babe."
The crowd loved the fight and it became the front-runner for the $129,000 bonus that UFC president Dana White said he'll give as a bonus to the participants in the Fight of the Night.
Aldo tired late as he had great difficulty shedding weight. He looked bad at Friday's weigh-in and didn't have the spark in the later rounds that he usually has, but Hominick didn't take advantage of that earlier by pushing the pace.
"I didn't throw enough combinations," Hominick said. "I was throwing all single shots. I wanted to get one up on him and I let him get one up on me. It's one of those things. You go back to the drawing board and I'll come back stronger."
Randy Couture's retirement fight didn't go the way the crowd had hoped. From the moment he walked to the cage until the moment he left, the fans were roaring for him. The 47-year-old Couture didn't have any answers and was knocked out in the second round by a brilliant kick from Lyoto Machida that knocked out one of Couture's teeth.
Couture had announced his retirement on several previous occasions, but he made it final on Saturday.
"This is it," he said in the cage. "I think the last time we had this conversation, I had all my teeth."
Machida was taught to be unconventional and it paid off in a big way on Saturday.
"My father said in martial arts to always be different," Machida said. "He taught me to look for different techniques and angles."
Machida's quickness gave him a big edge in the first round, as Couture wasn't able to close the distance or get Machida down.
In the second, Machida leaped in the air as if he were going to throw a left kick and switched to a right. He booted Couture in the face and knocked him out, ending the fight immediately at 1:05 of the second.
Couture said after that he would retire with a 19-11 record and five UFC titles.
"He is a hero! He is a hero!" Machida said to the crowd, pointing at Couture.
White said before the card that he wasn't buying the retirement talk and said he figured Couture would fight again. But Couture reiterated his intention to retire, saying he's been thinking of it for a while.
"He's a tremendous fighter," Couture said. "It felt like I was standing still out there, and he caught me with a great kick."
Vladimir Matyushenko and Jason Brilz are both wrestlers, and often in mixed martial arts a pairing of wrestlers leads to a standup battle. There wasn't much wrestling, as Matyushenko caught Brilz with a crushing right-left combination to knock him down in the opening seconds of the fight.
Brilz was prone on his back and Matyushenko landed two crushing blows before referee Dan Miragliotta stopped it just 20 seconds after it started.
Former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Benson Henderson made an impressive UFC debut, handling submission ace Mark Bocek en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Henderson avoided danger with Bocek's submissions and landed a number of powerful strikes to earn the win. All three judges had it for Henderson, 30-27. Yahoo! Sports had Henderson, 29-28.
Rory MacDonald got too emotional fighting in front of his home crowd last year in Vancouver at UFC 115 and made a rookie mistake. He was leading the fight comfortably, but got out of his game plan in an attempt to please the crowd and was stopped with seven seconds remaining by Carlos Condit.
But the 21-year-old learned from it and was very impressive in handling Nate Diaz. MacDonald was better in every area and took a clear unanimous decision. He won by scores of 30-26 twice and 30-27. Yahoo! Sports had it for MacDonald, 30-27.
In the third round, with his confidence rising, MacDonald slammed Diaz three times and blasted him with elbows, beating Diaz up as thoroughly as ever since he's been in the UFC.
"He turned and exposed his back to me and that’s a pretty natural movement for me," MacDonald said of the slam. "I feel very strong in that position. He kept turning his back to me. I was really surprised by the third one. I felt like I was going to keep slamming him until the end of the round."
Rising welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger continued his impressive run, crushing Toronto native Sean Pierson with a first-round combination. Ellenberger landed a powerful left hook that essentially ended the fight.
It spun Pierson, who seemed to freeze for a split second. From behind, Ellenberger landed a right and Pierson went down, ending the match at 2:42 of the first.
"I didn't know I caught him until he went down," Ellenberger said. "He was jabbing and then I just caught him with the hook. I was a little worried because it was a late-notice fight, but I came out with the win so I was happy about that."
Claude Patrick's striking and cage control were too much as he outlasted Daniel Roberts in a three-round welterweight bout. All three judges favored the Canadian by scores of 29-28.
Patrick was angry at many of Roberts' prefight taunts, which he credited to fueling his performance.
"The guy did something different that I will never let get to me again," Patrick said. "He went on the computer and made a whole bunch of ridiculous remarks, which I didn't even read, because I turn the computer off when I'm training for a fight. He made this video about my head being so big, so that's why I came at him so hard in the first round and let my fists do the talking."
Bantamweight Ivan Menjivar, who was St. Pierre's first opponent in 2002, caught former hockey player Charlie Valencia with a crushing elbow early in their three-round match. Valencia went down in a heap and Menjivar quickly finished, getting the stoppage at 1:30 of the first.
"From the clinch, we were kneeing each other and then by reflex I threw my left elbow and connected," Menjivar said. "That spun him and then I followed him to the ground and that was it."
Jason MacDonald may have a tough time getting through airport security, given that his left ankle has two steel plates and 10 screws in it as the result of a freak injury in a fight with John Salter in Montreal last May, but he showed he hasn't lost his jiu-jitsu skills.
MacDonald fought off an early guillotine choke attempt from Ryan Jensen and quickly moved for a triangle choke. Jensen tried to slam him, but MacDonald held on and Jensen quickly tapped to give MacDonald an emotional 25th win of his long career.
"Words can't describe what I'm feeling right now," he said. "I had the triangle locked in and I knew he was going to slam me. I knew as long I kept him tight it would be no problem."
Montreal's John Makdessi made the highly partisan crowd thrilled with an electrifying third-round knockout of Kyle Watson. Makdessi, who had won each of the first two rounds on all three judges' cards, faked a kick that forced Watson to react.
Very quickly, Makdessi spun and caught Watson with a spinning back fist that put him down and out.
"I knew I hit him well, but I didn't know I knocked him out," Makdessi said. "I guess when you train that much, it's just a feeling to know when to use it. I like to feel out my opponent first."
When Pablo Garza walked to the cage for the first fight of the night, he glanced around the Rogers Centre and had to take a deep breath. The spectacle briefly took his breath away, but he put on a spectacular effort in submitting Yves Jabouin.
"I was a little jittery, because the biggest crowd I ever fought in front of was a couple thousand," Garza said. "This was like 'Holy [expletive]!' It took a while to concentrate on the fight.
Once he calmed down, he was again lethal. Coming off a devastating first-round knockout of Fredson Paixao in December, in which he knocked Paixao cold with a flying knee just 51 seconds into the fight, Garza showed off the other side of his game.
He caught Jabouin with a flying triangle and, after a bit of maneuvering for position, forced the tap. He could have had an arm bar, but ended it with the triangle choke.
"The triangle got him, not the arm bar," Garza said. "He was rolling, but I cranked it very hard. I thought my last fight was a trip, but this was mind blowing."
- Jake Shields
- Lyoto Machida
- Mark Hominick
- Randy Couture