- Brian Knapp
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In another clinical performance sure to feed the flames of his critics, Georges St. Pierre remained welterweight champion.
St. Pierre kept the fight standing and went 25 minutes with Jake Shields, retaining his title with another unanimous decision in the UFC 129 main event on Saturday before 55,724 fans -- a record crowd for a mixed martial arts event in North America -- at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Scores were 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47 for the French-Canadian, who extended his career-best winning streak to nine.
Still, St. Pierre did not escape unscathed. Shields landed stiff jabs and right crosses, at times almost at will. One of them left St. Pierre with damage to his left eye.
"I think it was the second round," he said. "In the beginning, I was able to see. I can't see out of my left eye right now. I just see a blur, and it's very bad."
St. Pierre went the distance for the fifth time in his last six fights. The jab was again his weapon of choice, backed up by spinning back kicks to the body and overhand rights. He wobbled the durable Shields more than once, delivering a head kick in the fourth round that had the Cesar Gracie disciple in search of an emergency takedown.
Shields, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, never got the fight to the ground. His strikes were better than advertised but lacked the necessary potency to put the champion in real danger. The defeat was the first for Shields in more than six years and halted a string of 15 straight wins.
"His striking was much better than I thought," St. Pierre said. "He closed my eyes. Standing up, I was expecting to beat him more with ease and then put him down later in the round, but I couldn't deliver much like this. I'm sorry to the fans. I wanted to make a knockout or submission tonight."
Afterward, the pound-for-pound ace dodged questions surrounding his immediate future, including a potential super fight with middleweight king Anderson Silva.
"We'll see," he said. "I just finished my fight. I haven't considered that yet. Going up in weight class is a lot to consider. Maybe there are other ways of [making that fight]. We'll talk."
In the co-main event, Aldo retained his title after 25 grueling minutes of hand-to-hand combat with the Canadian, securing a unanimous decision, and with it, a 12-fight winning streak. All three cageside judges scored it for the Brazilian: 50-43, 48-46 and 49-46. In defeat, Hominick won the champion's respect.
"You've got to take your hat off and give it up for Mark Hominick," Aldo said. "He's a hell of a fighter. I knew he had good standup skills, but I came with my muay Thai [and was] very prepared."
Aldo controlled vast stretches of the fight with his chopping low kicks, takedowns and power punches. He grounded Hominick four times in the first two rounds, opening a horizontal cut below the eye with a short, digging elbow. In Round 3, Aldo wobbled the challenger with a crisp left hook and dropped him with a straight right hand-left hook combination. He showered Hominick with hammerfists, but the courageous Canadian stayed in the fight, recaptured full guard and recovered from the onslaught.
"First off, I'd just like to say to my wife, I hope I didn't put you into labor," Hominick said. "I know you're due any minute. I hope you're OK."
Aldo returned to his trademark low kicks in the fourth round and again put Hominick on the canvas, this time with a powerful right hand up the middle. On the ground, he fired off another elbow, which raised the grotesque swelling on Hominick's head. The cageside physician took a long look at the challenger and allowed him to continue.
"I was never giving up," Hominick said.
The Thamesford, Ontario, native had his moments. He utilized a stout jab and straight right hand, troubling Aldo in spurts. Hominick did all he could to erase his deficit in the fifth round, as he delivered a takedown on the fatigued champion and unleashed a stream of ground-and-pound from the top. The exhausted Aldo weathered the blows and maintained his stranglehold on the featherweight division.
The defeat was Hominick's first inside the UFC.
"I think I just didn't throw a lot of combinations," he said. "I threw a lot of single shots. With Jose, I wanted to be one up on him, and I let him get one up on me. Then I started thinking about the takedown too much. I'll come back stronger."
Machida front kick knocks Couture into retirement
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida borrowed a page from teammate Anderson Silva's playbook, as he knocked out hall of famer Randy Couture with a spectacular jumping front kick in the second round. Couture, in his final Octagon appearance, bowed out 65 seconds into Round 2.
"I trained this kick a lot. My daddy taught [it to] me. Mr. Steven Seagal taught me also," said Machida, who snapped a two-fight losing streak. "It was a dream for me to fight this guy. He is a hero. This is the man."
Machida kept Couture at bay with straight lefts, quick combinations and knees and kicks to the body throughout a one-sided first round. The 47-year-old Couture, one of the sport's most decorated competitors, tried in vain to secure clinches. Machida shrugged off those attempts without much trouble. In Round 2, Machida waited for the opening. His kick found its mark with stunning precision and pace, knocking the dazed Couture backward. Machida pounced to finish, but referee Yves Lavigne beat him there, saving "The Natural" from further punishment. Afterward, Couture, a five-time UFC champion, announced his retirement.
"You're not going to see me again. This is it," said Couture. "I've been coming to this decision for a while, and it's a fight I've wanted for quite a while. I think I had all my teeth the last time we had this discussion. I felt like I was standing still out there. He's a tremendous athlete."
Matyushenko Finishes Brilz in 20 Seconds
Former International Fight League light heavyweight champion Vladimir Matyushenko has plenty left in the old tank.
The 40-year-old Belarusian needed just 20 seconds to take out Jason Brilz in their featured matchup at 205 pounds. A brutal right uppercut behind the ear and a follow-up straight left dropped Brilz, and Matyushenko pounced with a series of hammerfists that finished it. It was the second-quickest stoppage of his 14-year career.
"Sometimes, I do what I promise," said Matyushenko, who improved to 7-3 inside the UFC. "I've been working on my striking skills a lot, and I'm just glad I could [perform] for all my fans. I'm capable of doing much more."
Henderson takes decision from Bocek
Former WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson made the most of his UFC debut, as he outwrestled, outworked and out-struck Mark Bocek, earning a unanimous decision nod from the judges. Scores were 30-27 across the board for Henderson, who won for the 11th time in 12 fights.
Henderson dominated Bocek in the clinch, stayed out of trouble on the ground and landed the more potent strikes when the two exchanged standing. He escaped an attempted anaconda choke from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in the second round and unleashed an angry string of knees and elbows that left Bocek bleeding from the top of the head.
Bocek scored with a pair of takedowns in Round 3, but Henderson escaped back to an upright position, where he battered the Canadian's body with stout knees in close quarters.
Brilliant MacDonald dominates Diaz
Canadian welterweight prospect Rory MacDonald made a bold statement in his return to the Octagon.
The 21-year-old former King of the Cage champion outwrestled, out-grappled and out-struck Nate Diaz en route to a one-sided unanimous decision at UFC 129 "St. Pierre vs. Shields" on Saturday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. All three judges sided with MacDonald: 30-26, 30-27 and 30-26.
Diaz kept it competitive for a round, but "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 5 winner had far fewer weapons upon which to call. MacDonald used a varied striking attack and well-timed takedowns to chip away at the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt throughout the first 10 minutes. In Round 3, he wowed the crowd with three belly-to-back suplexes on Diaz, whom he then battered with standing-to-ground punches.
"I'm on top of the world," said MacDonald, who won for the 11th time in 12 professional outings and rebounded from his technical knockout loss to former WEC champion Carlos Condit at UFC 115 in June.
Ellenberger counter flattens Pierson
Surging welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger knocked out Sean Pierson with a beautiful counter left hook and follow-up blows 2:42 into the first round of their preliminary matchup. Ellenberger, an injury replacement for Brian Foster, accepted the bout on a little more than two weeks' notice.
"Man, I'm completely happy," Ellenberger said. "I took the fight on like 16 days' notice, but I'm so blessed."
Ellenberger was patient and exact. The 26-year-old Omaha, Neb., native scored with a double-leg takedown and set the tone with power punches on the feet. Pierson pawed with an ill-advised right jab, only to be countered with a left hook to the temple. Dazed, the Canadian turned away from Ellenberger, who met him with a right and followed him to the ground for the finish.
"I didn't realize I caught him that way," said Ellenberger, who improved to 4-1 in the UFC. "He's a warrior. My hat's off to him."
Patrick outpoints Roberts; streak reaches 13
One of the welterweight division's best-kept secrets, Claude Patrick extended his current winning streak to 13 fights with a unanimous decision over Daniel Roberts. All three cageside judges scored it for Patrick by matching 29-28 counts.
Patrick carried the scorecards on the strength of his work in Rounds 1 and 3. The 30-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt had Roberts reeling from punches in the first, as he clocked the Cesar Gracie-trained Illinois native with a left hook and rushed him with uppercuts to the head and blows to the body until the horn sounded.
Roberts weathered the onslaught and moved into Round 2, where he was far more effective. However, fatigue derailed his momentum, as Patrick finished as the stronger of the two. He took down and mounted Roberts in the third period. Later, the Toronto native scored with knees from the clinch and threatened with a pair of guillotine chokes, though neither of them had Roberts in significant danger.
Menjivar stops Valencia in 90 seconds
Ivan Menjivar stopped WEC import Charlie Valencia on first-round strikes in their brief but action-packed bantamweight dark match. Valencia yielded to the blows 90 seconds into Round 1, as referee "Big" John McCarthy intervened on his behalf.
The two 135-pound dynamos traded from the start, but Menjivar delivered a solid two-punch combination, closed the distance and went to work in the clinch. From there, he fired two elbows. The first missed its intended mark. The second did not, slamming into Valencia's nose and dropping the 5-foot-3 Californian where he stood. Menjivar -- who had not competed in the UFC in nearly seven years -- followed with punches and forced the stoppage.
MacDonald Submits Jensen
In his first Octagon appearance in nearly a year, Jason MacDonald coaxed a tapout from Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts representative Ryan Jensen with a first-round triangle choke. The end to the preliminary middleweight tilt came just 97 seconds into Round 1.
The well-traveled Canadian escaped an early guillotine choke from Jensen and latched the triangle choke from the bottom. Jensen tried to slam his way free, but MacDonald was relentless and left the Omaha, Neb., native no choice but to surrender.
"The slam is not a good escape for the triangle," said MacDonald, who had not fought since breaking his leg at UFC 113 in May. "There's a reason why."
Garza triangle submits Jabouin
"The Ultimate Fighter" Season 12 alum Pablo Garza submitted fellow WEC import Yves Jabouin with a first-round triangle choke in a preliminary featherweight bout. Jabouin tapped out to the choke 4:31 into Round 1.
Jabouin spent the first half of the round landing damaging low kicks on his 6-foot-1 foe. However, midway through Round 1, Garza jumped to guard, secured the triangle and turned the tide. Loose at first, he methodically tightened his grip on Jabouin. The Canadian signaled he was OK, only to succumb to the choke soon after.
Makdessi KOs Watson with spinning-back fist
Unbeaten Canadian prospect John Makdessi generated some prime highlight-reel material, as he wiped out "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 12 semifinalist Kyle Watson with a spectacular spinning-back fist in the third round. Watson met his demise 1:27 into Round 3, victimized by a vastly superior striker.
"If it wasn't for my team, I wouldn't be here," said Makdessi, who remains unbeaten in nine professional outings. "I fight for [you guys]. Of course, I'm very blessed to be victorious, but I still have a lot to improve [upon]."
Makdessi controlled virtually the entire bout with clean, accurate strikes. A left hook in the second round staggered Watson and served to foreshadow what was to come. Makdessi opened a cut under the eye of the H.I.T. Squad representative in the third round, blitzed him when he paused to check the damage, faked a kick and landed the finishing blow. Watson fell to his back, out cold.
Four fighters earned an extra $129,000 each for their efforts.
"Fight of the Night" honors went to Aldo and Hominick. "Knockout of the Night" went to Machida for his win over Couture, and Garza secured "Submission of the Night" with a nifty flying triangle against Jabouin.
The event also set the record for live-gate revenue for a North American mixed martial arts show at $12.075 million.
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com. Information from ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto was used in this report.