(Well, *somebody’s* already got the “Creep of the Night” bonus all sewn up. Pic: UFC.tv)
What will 55,000 screaming Canadians sound like? Our best guess: Loud, but polite. That politeness may well be tested prior to tonight’s main event, when California hippie Jake Shields takes the cage. The UFC – and champion Georges St. Pierre – have gone out of their way this week to cast Shields as the biggest threat yet to St. Pierre’s dominance. That in and of itself is interesting, since a year or two ago you likely wouldn’t have been able to get anyone from the UFC to admit Shields was better than guys like Josh Koscheck or Thiago Alves for any amount of money. It is truly a new day in MMA, kids. Anyways, we’ll be live with results and commentary of the PPV card beginning at 9 p.m. EST time. Don’t forget to hit refresh early and often to keep up with the latest updates.
A nice introductory video package details the rise of MMA from humble sideshow to multimillion dollar business during the last decade and a half, billing UFC 129 as the UFC’s “first stadium show.” Rogers Centre does indeed appear to be filled to the brim with crazy Canadians, who have their choice of what looks like umpteen giant screens hung all over the arena. Wow, that place is massive. Goldy and Rogan are jacked for this, both of them decked out in all black. Rogan says this is the weirdest thing he’s ever seen, and both guys reflect on the good old days when the UFC used to play bingo halls in Dothan, Alabama. Some hypeage, then we head to the cage …
Ben Henderson vs. Mark Bocek
Bendo comes out to Bon Jovi, carrying a Korean flag and Rogan makes a reference to the UFC drinking game. Bocek heads to the cage with his whole corner team decked out in horizontal striped hoodies like a crew full of Freddie Krugers. Sean Sherk sighting! He’s sitting in the front row yukking it up with Clay Guida. Bocek has a five-inch reach advantage, not that it’ll probably matter.
They touch em up and only exchange a few experimental jabs before Bocek closes the distance. Henderson muscles him against the cage, where they get restarted by Yves Levigne with 3:40 left in the round. Bocek sneaks in a right hand before shooting again, but Henderson fends it off. Bocek lands an inside leg kick, but eats a couple of punches. Henderson fires off a combo and ends with a kick, then another. With 1:30 on the clock, Bocek picks up a leg, absorbs some more punches, but eventually puts Henderson down. That’s where it ends, in Henderson’s guard. 10-9 Henderson.
Did Henderson always have those giant angel wings tatted on his back? Looking good, bro. Bocek shoots again near the start of the second and this time manages to scoop Henderson up in a doubleleg. Can’t keep him down though, and they wind up clinched against the fence again. Henderson lands a good knee before another restart with 3 minutes left. This time, Henderson takes Bocek down with a trip. Bocek digs for a leglock immediately and is able to use it to stand up. Bocek drags Henderson down with a front headlock with 1:30 left and looks for a choke. He tries for an Anaconda and a guillotine, but can’t get them. Henderson flips his way out of it and lights Bocek up with punches and knees until the horn. Bocek is bleeding on the forehead. 10-9 Henderson.
Bocek has a trickle of blood running out of his hairline, but lands a doubleleg in the first 30 seconds. Straight into Henderson’s guard. Henderson sweeps him with 3:30 left and starts going to work with heavy punches. Just some brutal shots to the body. Bocek looks for a leg lock and uses it to get a sweep himself. Henderson stands and narrowly avoids Bocek hopping onto his back. With 1:45 remaining, Henderson pulls Bocek down against the cage, the Canadian gets loose but eats another series of knees and an elbow. Bocek with another surprisingly nice double with 30 seconds left and gets to half guard. He has just short time to work and tries for a guillotine that allows Henderson to get up. The horn sounds and both guys raise their arms. Close fight, but I think Henderson nabbed it. 10-9 Henderson.
The judges agree: Ben Henderson def. Mark Bocek by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3).
St. Pierre arrives in a suit jacket and a collared shirt. Shields comes to the arena dressed like a sixth grader, in a Tapout warm up and a fashion T-shirt. At least one guy looks the part. Then a bunch of promos for upcoming events. Still strikes me as weird that the UFC airs Strikeforce ads during its PPVs. Especially when one of the guys involved is Josh Barnett. Oh well. It’s a brave new world.
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz
Brilz comes out in a MusclePharm all-over print bumping some old school hardcore. Guida snaps a pic of him at cageside. Really, dude? You want a picture of Jason Brilz? Huh. Matyushenko wears a blue work shirt that looks like it might have his name on a patch on the chest. Because he’s the janitor, get it? He’s got Antoni Hardonk with him.
Well, damn it. Matyushenko drops Brilz with a punch just a few seconds into the fight and finishes him with hammerfists as soon as he hits the ground. Replay shows it was a right uppercut and a straight left that did the damage. Brilz gets up saying “No way, no way,” but he was clearly out.
Vladimir Matyushenko def. Jason Brilz via KO , 0:20, round 1.
They’re gonna show Pablo Garza vs. Yves Jabouin from the undercard: Garza looks like a damn giant at featherweight. Seriously, it looks like Frankenstein is out there fighting. Jabouin knocks him down with some low kicks early, but then Garza jumps into a flying triangle and locks it up. Jabouin tries to roll out, but Garza eventually gets the tap. Nice finish from Garza.
Machida looks pretty fired up during his walkout, especially for, well, Machida. Seagal’s got those goddamn shooting glasses on again. What a boob. Randy Couture comes out to “Lunatic Fringe,” which Joe Rogan notes is from the “Vision Quest” soundtrack. He calls it one of the best wrestling movies ever made. Hello? ONE of the best? How about THE best, Rogan? Anyway, Couture looks very relaxed. So relaxed he doesn’t seem to notice when a fan puts a Red Sox ballcap on his head. Couture eventually knocks it off. That’ll be a gif in a few minutes. And to the fight …
The first minute is a feeling out process, with Couture getting tagged with a right as he tries to close the distance. Couture comes back with a left hook, though. With 3:05 left, Machida shakes off a clinch attempt. Then Machida lands a good uppercut. Couture with a body shot. Machida snaps off a right hand. Couture eats a knee as he tries to chase him down with 1:30 left and Machida gets away from him. Couture finally sticks him against the fence with 45 seconds left, but Machida is able to circle off. A knee to the body from Machida in the final 10 seconds. A very methodical first round. 10-9 Machida.
Couture eats a hard right to open the round. Looks like it might get ugly for a second, but he weathers it. Dear god. Machida throws a jumping front kick and lands it right on the face. Couture goes down and that’s all she wrote. That’s crazy. Steven Seagal, anyone?
Lyoto Machida def. Randy Couture via KO (kick), 1:05, round 2.
Machida gives some credit to Seagal in the post fight. Man, don’t encourage him, Lyoto. Couture reaffirms that this is the last one for him. Looks like Machida’s kick knocked out one of his teeth. Rogan gives him a nice sendoff. Couture looks a little misty-eyed.
I’m still a little bit in shock from that kick, but we’re going to get Charlie Valenica vs. Ivan Menjivar from the undercard: They clinch early and Menjivar lands a pair of short elbows that drop Valencia and it’s over. Replay shows Valencia’s nose is pretty much history after the second elbow. Nice return for Menjivar at his natural weight.
Hominick comes out to “I’m Coming Home” by Diddy while the big screen zooms in on an animated picture of a maple leaf dappled with snow. God, I wish I was making that up. The Canadian crowd seems to enjoy it though, as Hominick jogs to cageside without looking up. Aldo rocks Jay-Z’s “Run this Town” and seems to really dig on it as he comes to the cage.
Aldo opens with an uppercut, straight right right off the bat, then follows with a leg kick. And another. Then goes liver shot, leg kick. Hominick looks undeterred and lands a left that makes Aldo drop back a bit. More leg kicks from the champ and then a take down with 3:15 left. Hominick immediately threatens with a arm bar, but Aldo pulls out of it. He launches a steady diet of punches and elbows from the top, one of which opens a cut under the eye of Hominick. A stand up with 31 seconds left. Hominick lands a shot to the body (while eating a leg kick) and Aldo takes him down again just before the bell. 10-9 Aldo.
Aldo begins with another leg kick. Hominick looks more active in the early going here, landing a good body shot. The broadcast team notes Aldo’s mouth is open a bit, saying he had a tough weight cut for this fight. Hominick lands a straight right. Then a snapping jab. Also gets a takedown with 2:56 left, into Hominick’s guard. Aldo stands and finds a home for a couple of hard shots. We get a stand up with a minute left. After a brief exchange, Aldo gets another takedown, this time moving quickly to side control. That’s where it ends. A closer round and it looks like Aldo may be slowing down. 10-9 Aldo.
Hominick definitely appears to have more snap on his punches, but Aldo still moving pretty well to open the third. They exchange blows and then Hominick stuffs a takedown attempt with 3:45 left. Another wicked low kick from the champ. Then a punching combo that lands. Hominick snaps the jab and straight right. Then a hook to the body. Aldo gets in on single with 2:10 left, but Hominick again wiggles out of it. Aldo catches him with a left hook to the temple that wobbles Hominick and then puts him down. Aldo looks to finish with hammerfists, but can’t quite to it. Hominick pulls him into his guard. That’s where it ends, with Aldo stealing this round with that knockdown. 10-9 Aldo.
Hominick’s left eye is swelling up, but he still looks very game. Aldo may have gotten his second wind, and he stumbles Hominick with a right hand in the first minute. Aldo catches Hominick with a low blow and there is a brief recess. Once we get restarted, Aldo goes back to the low kicks and they look like they’re starting to smart. Then another one that leaves Hominick hopping a bit. Nice double jab from Hominick, though. Aldo knocks him down with another right hand and follows him down, back into the guard. There is a giant hematoma developing on Hominick’s forehead. This one looks like it could be a fight stopper. Big John calls a stop with under a minute left and the doctor takes a look. The doctor is gonna let it go. Aldo lands another pair of right hands and a takedown to close the round. 10-9 Aldo.
The doctor checks Hominick one more time, but lets him answer the bell for the final round. Low kick from Aldo. Hominick looks determined to push the pace, but is hurt with an uppercut in the first minute. Aldo tries to pull into a guillotine choke but lets Hominick get on top. Hominick is now bleeding badly from the cut under his eye, but he punishes Aldo with a pair of left hands on the ground. Then another one. Some hammerfists from Hominick. Then a hard left hand with 1:30 left. Hominick really going to town on the body and Aldo looks very tired. Huge blitz down the stretch here from Hominick, but he can’t finish it before the bell. That certainly made things interesting. 10-9 Hominick.
Here’s your decision: Jose Aldo def. Mark Hominick via unanimous decision (50-43, 48-46, 49-46).
They show Anderson Silva in the crowd wearing a sweater with a zipper running diagonally across the front. Then Chuck Liddell, who looks more and more like a crazy old man every time I see him. A last look inside the locker room of Shields and St. Pierre, and then it’s time …
Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields
Rage Against the Machine for Shields, and on the big screen they show … uh … a shield … with the word “Shields” on it. He’s got the Diaz brothers with him, acting the fool, as usual. Seagal is standing in the front row with his arms folded. Still got the shooting glasses on. St. Pierre comes out to a deafening roar. White gi, samurai headband. The usual.
Some experimental looking kicks from Shields early, while St. Pierre tries to throw some jabs. Shields grabs a leg on a kick by St. Pierre, moves him against the fence, where they clinch. St. Pierre works free. The champ lands a jab and tries a pair of spinning back kicks. Then another one. He lands a couple of jabs. Then a right hand over the top. Shields bleeding a bit out of the nose. St. Pierre lands a jab that stumbles Shields backward. St. Pierre does some dancing with 30 seconds left, odd for him. Shields looks a little discombobulated at the horn. 10-9 St. Pierre.
Shields looks like he wants to be more active on his feet and lands a right hand early. St. Pierre appears to want to continue to be methodical on the feet, whipping that jab and trying to counter Shields’ punches. Leg kick by Shields. Nice winging right hand for St. Pierre. Then another, that looks like it hurt Shields. The same right clips Shields on top of the head at the halfway point in the round. Another spinning back kick, but this one gets a piece of Shields’ gut. Shields lands a clipping right, then a kick to the body. St. Pierre goes right back to the overhand right. More odd, dancing footwork from St. Pierre. Then a leg kick that puts Shields momentarily on one knee. Another good round for GSP. 10-9 St. Pierre.
Shields comes out with a triple jab, acting like he wants to push the pace. St. Pierre really would like to land that overhand right. He lands one and then Shields shoots, but St. Pierre stuffs it easily. St. Pierre rips a shot to the body. Shields tries to clinch and GSP pushes him off. A diving takedown attempt by Shields at the midway point. Shields counters an overhand right with a kick to the body. GSP continues to work the jab, the overhand right and another spinning back kick inside the final minute. Georges grabs an effortless takedown inside the final 30 seconds and just hangs out in half guard until the bell. Something is wrong with GSP’s left eye as he goes to the corner. Looks like a little mouse. 10-9 St. Pierre.
Shields comes out throwing combinations, but GSP catches a kick for a takedown. He lets Shields up pretty fast. Shields lands a straight right. The challenger tries to clinch, but gets shrugged off. Looks like the eye might be bothering St. Pierre a little bit. Still lands that jab, though. St. Pierre lands a head kick that drops Shields with 2:45 left, but hesitates before following him down. Shields tries to sweep him from the bottom and St. Pierre decides to back off. Shields resorting to some Diaz-esque taunting now. St. Pierre bloodied up on the face. Another overhand right from GSP in the final minute. He might be having trouble seeing the right hand of Shields, but still wins the round. 10-9 GSP.
St. Pierre tries another high kick that is blocked, but then rocks Shields’ head back with a lunging jab. Then another of those overhand rights. Shields comes forward with a combination, but ends up getting hit by left hook at the tail end of it. St. Pierre keeps working that jab, but this fight is slowing down a lot down the stretch. The eye could be bothering St. Pierre, because he looks far more tentative in the latter stages than in the early going. They continue to trade shots to the bell, but I’ve got the champ winning every round here. 10-9 St. Pierre.
The doctor comes into the Octagon to check GSP’s eye following the fight. Georges look pretty beat up as we go to the decision: Georges St. Pierre def. Jake Shields via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47).
That’s it for me. I’m out. We’ll talk about this later, OK?