Saturday, April 30, 2011
UFC 129: Hype as a whole becomes reality
Toronto, Canada was the location of the largest crowd in UFC history, 55,000+, and they were not disappointed as one of the greatest cards ever assembled on paper delivered in person. All the way from the first fight on the prelims to the main event of the evening, this card lived up to the hype that was expected. Canadian fighters, born or based, won six of ten fights on the card, including, most importantly, Georges St. Pierre's defense of his welterweight (170 lbs.) title.
St. Pierre (22-2, 8 KO's 5 subs), in typical GSP fashion, went the distance and won a unanimous decision over Jake Shields (26-5-1, 3 KO's 10 subs), but may have garnered more criticism in the process. Constantly berated for not being a finisher, although I call it fighting smart, St. Pierre didn't do anything to disprove those claims. GSP looked crisp early with his striking, but became more reserved as the fight progressed after his left eye began to bother him in the third round. After the fight he said, "I can't see out of my left eye; all I see is a blur."
Meanwhile, Shields, whose only real chance was to take GSP to the ground, made no attempts to do such other than catching his left leg a few times when St. Pierre threw round kicks. Surprisingly, Shields did bust up St. Pierre's face a bit, but GSP was never in trouble throughout the fight. It looked as though Shields was content just to be fighting for the championship, instead of winning it. It was Shields first loss in seven years, while it was St. Pierre's ninth win in a row in the last four years.
In the co-main event of the evening, the featherweight (145 lbs.) championship, champion Jose Aldo (19-1, 12 KO's 2 subs) won a unanimous decision, but got all he could he handle from challenger Mark Hominick (20-9, 8 KO's, 8 subs). While Aldo won the first four rounds pretty clearly, he was exposed somewhat by Hominick's boxing; especially getting caught regularly with straight left jabs. I don't want to say ring rust was a factor, but it was obvious Aldo was exhausted by the end as in the last round Hominick took him down with four minutes left and pretty much beat on him.
I guess no one will ever joke again that The Karate Kid's Crane technique doesn't work; just ask former five-time UFC champion Randy Couture (19-11, 7 KO's 4 subs). Couture, the 47 year old marvel of MMA and freak of nature got KO'ed by said Crane technique as former light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion Lyoto Machida (17-2, 6 KO's 2 subs) caught him with a perfect jump front kick to the chin in the second round. Machida ends a two-fight skid while Couture officially announced "this was it," when asked if he was finally retiring by Joe Rogan. Thanks for the memories Randy; you are truly a living legend.
In the first fight of the pay-per-view, former WEC lightweight (155 lbs.) champion Ben Henderson (13-2, 2 KO's, 8 subs) went into Toronto and won a unanimous decision over hometown boy Mark Bocek (9-4, 1 KO, 7 subs). Displaying a perfect all-around game of punches, kicks and knees along with an excellent ground game, Henderson nullified any attempts Bocek had in his great submission game. Henderson at only 27 years old looks to be a factor in the lightweight division.
Finally, for those that didn't catch the prelims that were shown on Facebook, you missed some exciting action. Four of the five fights all finished within the first and second round via two knockouts and two submissions. These were highlighted by a sweet spinning back fist KO from Canadian John Makdessi over Kyle Watson; also, fellow Canadian Jason McDonald's beautiful first round triangle choke submission on Ryan Jensen.
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