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Ben vs. Ben: UFC 94 Edition


(And his tailor’s better, too. Photo courtesy of GSPFightClub.com.)

Hello, and welcome to another installment of "Ben vs. Ben." With the OMFG GREATEST FIGHT IN HISTORY just two days away, we decided to sling some bullshit about the deciding factors in St. Pierre vs. Penn, the likely bonus-earners at UFC 94, and the legitimacy of Machida vs. Silva as a #1 contender match. And now we offer our humble thoughts…to you. Enjoy, and holla back in the comments section, ‘kay?

***

How and when will the B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre fight end?

BF: Whether you think Penn has been slacking during his training or not, the fact is that he doesn’t have the kind of talent around him that GSP does. Guys like Nate Marquardt, Donald Cerrone, Keith Jardine, etc. Name one training partner Penn has who is as good as any one of those guys. Like his brother said, Penn is the president of his own camp. That’s not a good place for a fighter in training, especially if the fighter in question has had some conditioning and motivation issues. He ought to be more like a Congressional aide, getting bossed around and possibly sexually harassed every single day.

This being a welterweight fight only hurts Penn more. Not because of the strength and size he’ll be giving up – he’s talented enough to compensate for that – but because it doesn’t absolutely force him to be in excellent shape like he was against Sean Sherk, and so he won’t be. He may be in very good shape, but that’s not enough to go five rounds with GSP.

Penn will start off winning this fight with his striking and takedown defense. But by the third round he’ll begin to slow down. St. Pierre will stay right on top of him, wearing him down mentally and physically, and by the fifth round he’ll be looking for a way out. GSP will grant it to him by holding him down and punching him in the face until the ref stops it at around the three-minute mark. Penn has never gone five rounds in a winning effort. He won’t start against St. Pierre.

BG: In a perfect world, BJ Penn would have a tune-up fight at welterweight before taking on Georges St. Pierre. After all, Penn hasn’t won a match as a 170-pounder since May 2004, and it would be helpful to test out the new weight at least once before putting his legacy on the line. I think your observation that the welterweight division doesn’t force BJ to show up in optimal shape is a good one. I also think GSP is two days away from the greatest performance of his life.

St. Pierre’s game-plan is a closely guarded secret, but you have to assume that he knows Penn is great with his hands, and he’ll be looking to avoid them early. I don’t think Penn wins the first round, or the next two. The fight will end late in the fourth — around the 4:24 mark, let’s say — with Penn fading and GSP turning on his reserve boosters. Yes, it’ll be a TKO due to strikes. St. Pierre has done the work in the gym and the hype hasn’t affected his emotions. There’s only one way this can end.

How worthy of a title shot is the winner of Machida/Silva?


BG: If it’s Machida, then yes, he’s quite worthy. The Dragon sailed through his first four opponents in the UFC without losing a single round, then humiliated Tito Ortiz at UFC 84, which won him big points with the UFC’s top brass. (If you’re wondering why Dana White started saying that Machida could be the next #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, it’s because he held up his end of the bargain when it counted.) Plus, his pre-UFC wins over guys like Rich Franklin and BJ Penn could be used as ammo to hype him in the run-up to a title fight. And of course there’s the possibility that Machida really is better than everybody else in the UFC’s light-heavyweight class, like it or not.

Thiago Silva, on the other hand, doesn’t bring nearly the same cache. His early opponents were mediocre small-timers for the most part, and while in the UFC his biggest win has been a TKO of Houston Alexander at UFC 78, which may have seemed like a big deal at the time, but in retrospect, not so much. Basically, he’ll need another high-profile win after Machida to realistically be considered the #1 contender. But with guys like Forrest Griffin, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson, and Keith Jardine in the mix, the options are always there.

BF: Hold on, you’re saying that Machida has done enough to deserve the shot if he beats Silva, but if Silva beats Machida (the man who, in your opinion, has done enough to earn the shot) he still isn’t worthy? Dammit, that makes no sense. I agree that Machida is deserving of the shot in a fair world. I also think he’ll win this fight, because, as you pointed out, he has a bunch of quality wins over big time opponents and Silva has a TKO over Houston "I ain’t trying to learn no jiu-jitsu" Alexander.

But if Silva does manage to put the first blemish on Machida’s record, that alone makes him worthy of a shot. That said, I’d still rather see "Rampage" Jackson square off with Rashad Evans while the opportunity is there. I know Evans needs more time to recover from his last fight, while Jackson wants to work, but to me that’s no excuse for setting up a Jackson-Jardine fight where only one winner is a realistic opponent for Evans. I just don’t get it. Would it kill Jackson to wait a few more months and fight for a freaking title?

How will the bonuses be handed out at UFC 94?

BF: Fight of the Night is Penn-GSP. That’s a given. As long as it gets out of the first round and doesn’t turn out to be the worst fight since Quarry-Starnes, there’s just no way this "historic" bout doesn’t earn the participants a little extra cash.

Submission of the Night is going to be Thiago Tavares doing something crazy to Manvel Gamburyan, perhaps even something involving Manny’s trick shoulder, which would be a real jerk move but also a smart one.

Knockout of the Night is going to Jon "Bones" Jones (God, just because it rhymes doesn’t make it a good nickname, people) who will use his unorthodox striking techniques to pick apart and then put away Stephan Bonnar late in the fight. Lastly, Decision of the Night goes to Lyoto Machida. That one isn’t cash, but rather a gift certificate to Pinkberry, courtesy of Mr. Dana White.

BG: I’m with you on St. Pierre/Penn for Fight of the Night. I’d be surprised if we’re not still talking about this one 11 months from now, when we’re putting together our “Best of 2009” lists.

But since Thiago Tavares is coming off consecutive losses to Matt Wiman and Kurt Pellegrino, I don’t have as much faith in him as you do. My hope is that Nate Diaz makes Clay “Energizer Blanket” Guida pay for one of his takedown attempts and subs him from the bottom, so I’ll predict that he’ll pick up the Submission of the Night bonus. Jon Fitch is probably just as likely to choke out Akihiro Gono, but I don’t think the UFC is quite ready to reward him with extra money so soon after the video game licensing agreement drama that led to Fitch leaving the UFC for a day and everyone at American Kickboxing Academy being put on notice.

Jones is a good pick for KO of the Night, but I also have my eye on Dong Hyun Kim. Though “Stun Gun” hasn’t looked entirely impressive in his two Octagon appearances, he was a knockout artist before he came to the UFC, and if Karo Parisyan experiences one of his unfortunate panic attacks before the fight, he might lose focus at just the wrong moment.

Is "UFC Primetime" just screwing with us, or will BJ’s conditioning be a factor in this fight?

BG: No, it won’t be the conditioning that does him in. As we saw in his last fight against Sean Sherk, Penn can go three rounds and still look ass-beatingly fresh; I’m sure he’ll have gas in the tank for the championship rounds against St. Pierre, if it comes to that. But while Penn has been training hard — with improved cardio to match — Georges St. Pierre has been training harder. GSP is obsessed with training, in a way that BJ isn’t and never will be. And more importantly, he surrounds himself with better people. To have a game-plan master like Greg Jackson on your side is an immeasurable advantage, as is having top fighters in nearly every weight class coming by to kick your ass on a regular basis.

What does BJ Penn have, by comparison? It’s not like he trains at Jackson’s MMA, or ATT, or Xtreme Couture, or AKA, or Team Quest, or any other camp known for putting out top-flight talent. (“Neither does Fedor Emelianenko,” you might say, to which I’d reply, “Fedor’s motivation has never been a question.”) Penn built his own training center so he wouldn’t ever have to leave his hometown. If he has a gameplan for St. Pierre, he probably came up with it himself, and his training partners are not on his level — or GSP’s. I think the most important factor in this fight will be BJ’s hubris, and a laziness that has less to do with how hard you push yourself in the gym, and more to do with how hard you allow others to push you.

BF: I can’t decide whether "Primetime" is screwing with us, or whether Penn is screwing with them. I mean, I see him jogging with his mincing little steps like an old woman running for a bus, then I see GSP leaping over hurdles, and I have to think that there’s some calculation on somebody’s part.

The best way to think of this fight is to disregard most of what we’ve seen on "Primetime." It was great entertainment and illuminated the storylines well, but you can’t predict a fight based on slick editing and great visuals. When trying to figure out if Penn’s cardio will be an issue just ask yourself, when has it not been an issue? Only in fights where he was the superior fighter from the start. He’s never really dug deep against someone who is his equal and come out on top. Never. That’s all you need to know.

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Anonymous- February 3, 2009 at 12:24 am
white people cant fight for shit. Slow, clumsy no form, no combination.
spank you with the truth- January 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm
Old, Bald and Irish.... BJ Penns Black Belt is not from a Gracie... From Wikipedia:

In 1997 Penn began training under Ralph Gracie. After being awarded his black belt by Andre Pederneiras,[10] leader of Nova Uniao, in 2000 he became the first non-Brazilian to win the black belt division of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[11]

So take your little weiner out of yer sister and Have Yourself a Wonderful Day!
RickyRobbie- January 30, 2009 at 11:05 am
Stop talking about Rampage getting a titleshot immiditely..He will have to get in line like everybody else. Machida is more worthy of a titleshot than Page. On the other hand, the UFC doesn´t want to give Machida a titleshot that quick so the only way to settle it will be Winner of Machida/Silva vs Winner of Jackson/Jardine = Titleshot. Capishe?
Chuck Norris - January 30, 2009 at 9:51 am
Don't fuck with Chuck
Knockup Artist- January 30, 2009 at 7:38 am
First things first, I poppa freak all the honeys....wait....let's start again...I agree completely with the Bens' prediction of the outcome of the Main Event. So much has been said about both fighters: the super athlete vs. the prodigious one. Dedication and education vs. raw talent and instinct. The Primetime series was pure entertainment and all should take whatever they saw with a grain of salt.

The show was definately well edited to portray what the UFC wanted it to. My thought on the series is that it has a greater impact on the fighters that we may believe. We saw BJ start off very confident, loud-mouthed (as usual) and ready for war...as the episodes progressed and they were privy to the footage from the previous episodes, we can see that it started to take its toll on BJ more than GSP.

GSP's confidence grew and I believe BJ's did the opposite. During the last episode I saw a scared little boy in a dangerous fighter's body. Sure, most of you will say I'm a newb or whatever but what I saw was exactly that, what I saw....I may be wrong but the scene after the "rock running" was it for me...looking around at his partners for reassurance that this was indeed true anarobic exercise....i'm just saying that series made BJ less confident and it will impact his mental state before the fight. He is a pro...but he is also an immature one...

This will be a war and GSP takes it by UD.

Flame away boys...
C-Bus Allstar- January 30, 2009 at 5:43 am
I would have to agree with most of the commenters here. There's no way that you can just write BJ Penn off because he's not training with guys like Rashad Evans, and Nate Marquardt. The way I look at it is this: GSP is an athlete. He's a pure and simple athlete.. Yeah, he trains constantly, and that's great, but what he doesn't have is that fighters instinct. He's got the athlete's instinct and training discipline, but he's not a fighter, he's a runner and a jumper. BJ Penn is a natural born fighter. And that to me counts far more than pure athletic talent.

BJ Penn by TKO (strikes), second round after rocking GSP in the first with a hard right. Count on it.
Teila Tuli's Tooth- January 30, 2009 at 5:22 am
"He ought to be more like a Congressional aide, getting bossed around and possibly sexually harassed every single day."

...OMFG LOL! My hats off to you Ben.
Bovice- January 29, 2009 at 11:01 pm
Guida/Diaz will be fight of the night, and GSP will either wax Penn's ass all the way to decision or will win via GnP in round 2. Hopefully Penn will learn to shut his goddamn mouth after he gets dominated this Saturday.
BIG BAD WOLF- January 29, 2009 at 10:26 pm
HEY CHUCK.... GSP LOSES BEFORE THE END OF THE THIRD ROUND & YOU CAN EAT THAT FART OUT OF ITS POINT OF ORIGIN.

BJ= GRACIE JIU-JITSU BLACK BELT.
BJ= BETTER STRIKER
BJ= KNOCKOUT POWER
GSP= UNDERWEAR MODEL

WINNER- PENN

RIP. HELIO GRACIE
poor andrei- January 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm
Fedor kO in the first round.......oh wait that already happened
Chuck Norris - January 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm
The next person to say that GSP is gonna lose on Saturday is gonna get a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick that will knock a fart back into their ass.

GSP wins via referee stoppage due to strikes. 3rd round.
Keyser Soze- January 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm
Before the 1rst Serra-St. Pierre fight, most would've agreed GSP to be the better striker and a standup war would've favoured him. One punch to the temple or ear if I recall correctly (not his chin) changed all that, and Serra took his opportunity to finish the fight. He deserved the win, he earned it. It wouldn't have been in St. Pierre's best interest to get involved in a submission/ground war with a black belt in BJJ.

The 2nd fight was almost the polar opposite. St. Pierre immediately took Serra down and had his way with him. Beat Serra in his own element/game. And made it look surprisingly easy. I have no doubt Greg Jackson was one of the influencing factors. St. Pierre's very quick transitional submission making Hughes verbally tap showed his ground game has very much improved, and very quickly. Given GSP's track record and success against wrestlers, I don't think he's too scared to get involved in a grappling match.

I hear about BJ and his excellent BJJ skills, but when has he actually used them of late? Stevenson and Pulver? Not of GSP's calibre. Hughes, Gomi and Ludwig from way back in the day? Not of GSP's calibre. Only 48 hrs away... and I'm stoked. To be honest, it'll be a big fight, and a good fight. But for me it's just a step on the road to the superfight I want to see... St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva.
Darkside- January 29, 2009 at 5:53 pm
Bj might not have the right training partners, but he has enough talent to carry him through. Just look at the last fight he had with st pierre. not saying he's definitely gonna win, but to completely count him out is just plain foolish. I dont care who you are.
Anonymous- January 29, 2009 at 4:56 pm
...but bonnar isn't going to win
Anonymous- January 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm
thinking about saturday night is giving me a bonnar
Jesus Frijoles- January 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm
I would give a whole lotta money to see Clay Guida beat Diaz.That fight is going to be intense. I think GSP ought too come out kicking low and stay at it for about three rounds. Keep BJ out of fist range. He has the size and reach advantage and if he is smart he will use it Jardine style, fuck up his leg, then go head hunting.
Old, Bald and Irish- January 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm
Oh...P.S. - Bonnar wins, got it? HE WINS!
Old, Bald and Irish- January 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm
Oh, yeah...one more thing....

...MY WEINER IS HUGE...ya hear me?...HUGE!

...just thought I'd throw that out.

..."hugs-and-kisses", TUF Guy...
Old, Bald and Irish- January 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm
Whoa, whoa...WHOA!

Once again, a great read from "The Ben's"...sounds like it should be the name of a band...but it's not.

First off, I think it's interesting how quickly BOTH of you seem to be writing off BJ.

Before I go any further, in all honesty, I don't have a "dog in this race". I am a rabid fan of both BJ and GSP. Personally, I really don't know who is gonna win the fight, but whoever wins, they deserve it. This is two of the absolute best going at it. RARELY do we truly get to see match ups like this in professional sports. I'd be just as thrilled by either one being the victor.

Now that I got that out of the way, stop and think about this...

Penn got his Black Belt, got that..his Black-Fuckin'-Belt, from a Gracie..no less, IN THREE YEARS!

There are guys who have trained with Gracies and haven't been promoted to their next belt FOR OVER A YEAR because they didn't tie their belts correctly. This is truth.

And you guys are ready to count him out because you think Penn might be "lazy" and not "pushing" himserlf?

They don't call him "The Prodigy" for nothing....

Don't underestimate Penn. Don't buy into ANYTHING that "UFC Primetime" is showing you.

In regard to both of you raising the point about who Penn trains with: Granted, GSP is training with top-notch talent; no doubt. But I got to see firsthand at GrapplersQuest one of the guys who train with Penn in Hawaii. He came out just to compete, and let me tell ya, he was nooooo slouch...and he won his weight class in the advanced no-gi division.

BJ may be the "President", but come on, he's a smart enough fighter to know when he's rolling through his training partners. GSP may have some of the best "big names", but I would bet my bottom dollar that BJ is training with the best "no-names". Just because you're famous, doesn't mean you're the best.

All said and done, I don't know who will win Penn vs GSP...

But I do know this...Machida deserves a shot at the title if (and when) he wins.
Farthammer- January 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm
Re: Machida/Thiago winner "deserving" a title shot...since when does "deserve" have anything to do with getting a title shot?
schnetzler- January 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm
some hot sake has got my creative juices flowing again (for better or for worse)...

Lyoto "The Cheetah" Machida
Manny "The Manchurian" Gamburyan
Christian "Hellish" Wellisch
Jake "Cryin" O'Brien
Karo "Freezin" Parisyan
Nate "Punk Azz" Diaz
Creamy CA Roll- January 29, 2009 at 1:54 pm
@ k

He could still win without the nipple tweak. Maybe GSP will start off slow and then pull it off anyway just like Rashad.

Who am I kidding. BJ in round 3 via RNC!
F'n Clownshoes- January 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm
....that much more exciting.
sorry!
F'n Clownshoes- January 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm
All logic is telling me GSP will win this fight......
Fuck logic, Penn by sub 3rd.

the boredom that will be Machida/Silva will only make the atmosphere for the Main Event that much more.
k- January 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Really this just comes down to whether or not GSP remembers to tweak his nipples.
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