LAS VEGAS — Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre dominated lightweight title-holder B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn on Saturday night, winning by technical knockout when a battered Penn was saved further punishment after four rounds of their marquee mixed martial arts matchup at UFC 94.
The one-sided fight was stopped by referee Herb Dean, on the advice of the doctors. Penn’s corner concurred.
The 27-year-old from Montreal, who won a split decision when the two met at UFC 58 in March 2006, put on a clinic. By the end of the fourth round, he was having his way with Penn on the ground and using his head like a punching bag.
“Last time I won by decision. This time, I really wanted to take him out and I’m glad that I did it,” said St. Pierre (18-2).
The judges had scored the first four rounds 40-35, 40-34, 40-34 for the Canadian, who did a backflip in the cage to celebrate.
The fight was contested at 170 pounds — St. Pierre’s weight class. Penn, 30, retains his 155-pound lightweight belt.
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva could be down the line for St. Pierre, to decide who is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. But welterweight contender Thiago Alves is probably next.
Penn (13-5-1) walked out first, to Hawaiian music and resounding cheers, wearing a “Hawaiian Unity” T-shirt.
Then came St. Pierre — to equally loud cheers and pulsating French hip-hop. Both men looked ready for business.
Chants of “GSP” and “B.J. Penn” had started three fights into the card, setting Canadian flags waving in the soldout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
St. Pierre tied up Penn early, taking him to the fence in a clinch and looking for a takedown. Penn resisted and the two traded blows away from the fence. St. Pierre’s strategy seemed clear, tire Penn out while blunting his strong striking game.
It was more of the same in the second and St. Pierre took Penn down early from a clinch at the fence, landing heavy blows from on top as the crowd chanted “GSP”.
Penn took a lot of punishment in the round and St. Pierre returned to his corner, getting a thumbs up from Muay Thai coach Phil Nurse.
Penn looked tired and battered.
In the third, the Canadian busted open Penn’s nose with a stinging jab and the blood started to flow. Penn went down again, but fought his way back up and tried unsuccessfully for a takedown of his own at the fence.
St. Pierre stuffed it and then took out Penn’s legs, hurting the Hawaiian again from above.
St. Pierre still looked fresh. Penn looked frustrated as the round ended.
St. Pierre started the fourth with a few crisp blows and a takedown, working his way to side control. He trapped Penn’s arms and punched away. Penn was taking a beating and it was time to end it.
In the co-main event, Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida looked razor-sharp in stopping Thiago Silva in a matchup of unbeaten Brazilian light-heavyweights.
Silva stalked the elegant Machida from the beginning. But Machida (14-0) knocked him down twice with clean head shots and ended it with one second left in the first round, tripping Silva and then smashing him on the chin for a KO.
Silva (13-1) was unable to get up for a while.
“People, do I deserve a title shot?” asked Machida, getting a resounding cheer in response.
Light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was watching cageside.
Machida had been criticized in some quarters for not finishing his opponents. But he crushed Silva, a predator in his own right.
Of the eight other fights on the card, all went to a decision with five of those split verdicts.
Light-heavyweight Jon (Bones) Jones used his speed and unorthodox moves to earn a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over a befuddled Stephan (The American Psycho) Bonnar.
The 21-year-old Jones (8-0) laid a beating on Bonnar in the first round, punishing him with everything from a spinning back elbow to a simple knee to the face. The former junior college wrestling champion took Bonnar (14-5) down repeatedly in the fight, with a variety of slick moves.
Bonnar, who had been inactive since UFC 77 in October 2007 because of knee surgery, never quit. But he could not solve Jones.
Lightweight Clay (The Carpenter) Guida won a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Nick Diaz, snapping a five-fight win streak for the champion of Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show. Guida — the Energizer Bunny of the 155-pound ranks — has now posted back-to-back victories over TUF winners, defeating Season 6 champ Mac Danzig last time out.
The six-foot Diaz had five inches on Guida and used his reach advantage to win the standup war early on. But Guida (25-6) eventually was able to use his wrestling skills to control Diaz (10-3), who was unable to get his jiu-jitsu game into gear.
Welterweight Karo (The Heat) Parisyan scored a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over South Korean Dong Hyun (Stun Gun) Kim in a matchup of judo black belts. Parisyan (27-5), whose career has been slowed by panic attacks and a back problem recently, looked soft and sluggish but managed to hang on for the win. Kim (11-1-1) started strongly, but did not do enough in the third round.
On the preliminary card, welterweight Jon Fitch (22-3, with one no contest) bounced back from a loss to St. Pierre at UFC 87 in August by dominating Japanese veteran Akihiro Gono en route to a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Gono (28-14-7) is known for his flamboyant entrances and did not disappoint, coming in wearing a backless metallic cocktail dress, wig and heels with his two male cornermen similarly dressed. All three stopped to dance in unison, a la Supremes, en route to the cage.
Fitch, a 5-1 favourite, then entered more traditionally to Johnny Cash’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage.” On the other side of the Octagon, Gono’s corner were frantically trying to change out of their evening apparel. They didn’t entirely succeed and one of his cornermen worked the fight in a dress slit to the thigh and a T-shirt.
Sadly, the fight didn’t really live up to the entrance. Fitch, bigger and more powerful, controlled the fight from the get-go, but was unable to finish the cagey Gono.