Georges St. Pierre perfect in win over Penn in battle of UFC champions

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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LAS VEGAS Georges St. Pierres strategy against B.J. Penn was simple.

We wanted to discourage him and then drown him in the later rounds, explained trainer Firas Zahabi.

The strategy worked to perfection. St. Pierre took Penn out of his comfort zone and then laid a beating on him, recording a memorable mixed martial arts victory in a marquee champion versus champion matchup Saturday night at UFC 94 before a soldout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Referee Herb Dean, on the advice of doctors and with the agreement of the Penn corner, stopped the bout after four rounds. A battered, bloodied Penn headed to hospital while St. Pierre celebrated a second win over the fighter known as The Prodigy.

Georges St. Pierre completely dominated the fight, UFC president Dana White said. He said he was going to do it and he came in and did it.

Neither man lost their title. Because the fight was contested at 170 pounds, Penn retains his lightweight championship at 155 pounds. St. Pierre emerges with his welterweight crown.

But St. Pierre (18-2) gets all the glory, with the kind of dominant performance that sends shudders down other fighters spines.

In administering a beatdown to Penn, the 27-year-old from Montreal elevated himself alongside UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and perhaps former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

Penn (13-5-1) had also been in the mix until Saturday.

White stuck with Silva as the world No. 1, but said St. Pierre was now officially No. 2.

Anderson has been annihilating everyone for some time now. Georges has some work to do. If Georges takes out (No. 1 welterweight contender) Thiago Alves, hes on his way.

Alves, one of the biggest welterweights around, is next. Silva, who fights at 185 pounds, is a big-ticket challenge for later.

The judges scored the first four rounds 40-35, 40-34, 40-34 for St. Pierre, who softened Penn up in the clinch at the fence in the early rounds, then took him down later and had his way with him, delivering heavy blows from above.

It was a kick-ass fight, White said. He came in and did exactly what he said he was going to do and he dominated one of the best fighters in the world.

Penn, a former welterweight champion, is considered one of the best strikers in MMA. Combined with a world champion jiu-jitsu base and a formidable takedown defence, he is a fighter to be feared especially when he applies himself in training as he has done for recent fights.

The St. Pierre camp knew the Hawaiian likes to take control in the first few rounds. So they had the bigger Canadian take him to the fence, tie him up in a clinch and use knees and elbows while looking for takedowns if they were there. The idea was to make the 30-year-old Penn work, to ensure lactic acid built up in his muscles, without St. Pierre expending all his energy on takedowns.

We felt that because he was smaller than us, we could bully him a little bit in the clinch up against the fence, said Zahabi.

Penn resisted the takedown attempts in the first round, but St. Pierre knew he had him early.

I knew I broke him mentally after the first round, St. Pierre told reporters later, occasionally applying an ice pack to his forehead to reduce some swelling.

St. Pierre, one of the most effective wrestlers in MMA, took Penn early in the second from a clinch at the fence, landing heavy blows from on top as the crowd chanted GSP.

In the third, the Canadian busted open Penns 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 Penns 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 Penns arms and punched away. Penn was taking a beating and when the round ended, it was time to end it.

Hes a very tough guy, St. Pierre said.

Penns brother J.D. said Sunday B.J. was fine. Just a few bumps and bruises.

But Penn was outmatched and outgunned. The five-foot-nine Hawaiian came weighed in at 168 pounds and probably fought at around 170.

St. Pierre, who is 5-10, was probably 185 to 187 pounds by the time he entered the cage.

Im not going to use size as anything, said White. Georges beat him tonight. Period.

Organizations: The Prodigy

Geographic location: LAS VEGAS, MMA, Montreal

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