UFC 94 Notebook: Accusations Swarm St. Pierre

By Brian Knapp Feb 2, 2009
Welterweight champion and pound-for-pound stud Georges St. Pierre had little time to savor what many saw as a landmark performance against rival B.J. Penn at UFC 94 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

J.D. Penn, the challenger’s older brother, confirmed to Sherdog.com that a formal complaint will be filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday, claiming St. Pierre used a “greasing” agent during the UFC 94 main event. The 27-year-old French Canadian retained his welterweight belt with a fourth-round technical knockout.

“We are not trying to make excuses, but the NSAC needs to protect the fighters,” Penn said via text message. “They never notified us or completely wiped his back with water and towels.”

The accusation cast a cloud of suspicion over St. Pierre after he dismantled the popular Hawaiian in a one-sided, four-round affair. Controversy deepened in the hours after the news broke. In an interview with InsideFighting.com on Sunday, Penn’s head coach, Rudy Valentino, claimed St. Pierre used similar tactics the first time the two fought in 2006. Valentino also indicated the camp of former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra alleged St. Pierre did the same in their April 2008 rematch.

If the NSAC clears St. Pierre of wrongdoing, his latest conquest will likely stand as one of his crowning achievements. Never had Penn been so thoroughly beaten.

“I knew I broke him mentally in the first round,” St. Pierre said. “It was my gameplan. I stuck to it. My gameplan was to make the first round and the second round a clinch [war] and mostly like a wrestling match.”

As each round passed, St. Pierre dug deeper into Penn’s defenses, as he neutralized the Hawaiian’s considerable stand-up skills, forced him to his back and hammered away at him on the grown. St. Pierre leaned on Penn from the start, as he pressed him against the cage and sucked the energy from his 168-pound frame. Keenly aware of Penn’s penchant for fast starts, St. Pierre made sure to establish himself early in the fight.

“B.J. Penn, when he comes out, he always comes out strong in the first round because he’s got very good hand speed,” he said. “So I wanted to make him tired, to carry my weight.”

By rounds three and four, Penn was visibly discouraged, his pace labored. St. Pierre scored at will with takedowns and passed the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion’s guard with stunning ease. His relentless ground-and-pound -- punches, elbows and knees -- also took a heavy toll on Penn, whose head and body were often exposed in side control.

“He’s a very tough guy,” St. Pierre said. “Even at the end of the fourth round, I was mad. I was trying to finish him … hard, but he always survived. I’m not surprised. I was expecting that.”

At the conclusion of round four, Penn had nothing more to give, and his corner motioned for the cage-side doctor to stop the fight. Afterward, St. Pierre focused on his drive and dedication to develop all his skills.

“People talk about stand-up and this and that,” he said. “It’s a mixed martial arts fight.”

St. Pierre thinks his takedown prowess enhanced his striking skills against Penn, a man some believe to be the premier boxer in the sport. Penn’s lethal jab, which he used to pick apart Sean Sherk at UFC 84, was never a factor.

“I knew he was afraid of my wrestling, so it made my stand-up look a little better maybe,” St. Pierre said. “I’m very confident with my stand-up now. I box with world champion boxers and former world champion boxers in Montreal, so I’m in very good hands.”

UFC Bonus Money Totals $260K

Top light heavyweight contender Lyoto Machida turned the first knockout of his career into extra cash.

The unbeaten Machida (14-0) banked a $65,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus after his right hand finished Thiago Silva with one second to spare in the first round of the co-main event at UFC 94. Machida, who struck his grounded foe from a standing position, landed another shot as the horn sounded, ensuring Silva would not see round two.

A polarizing figure because of his elusive approach to fighting, Machida basked in the glow of the third first-round stoppage of his career.

“Every time I come out, I try to get better and better and try to improve and finish fights,” Machida said. “It just makes me feel good when I go out there and do the job that I did. My goal is to please my fans.”

Because the event was void of submissions -- eight of the 10 bouts went the distance -- the UFC awarded four $65,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses. The first two went to John Howard and Chris Wilson, the second two to Clay Guida and Nathan Diaz. Both fights ended with split verdicts, as Howard and Guida emerged victorious.

This & That

Dan Cramer was the first fighter to make a successful professional debut at a UFC pay-per-view event since Marcio Cruz at UFC 55 in October 2005. Cruz submitted Keigo Kunihara with a second-round rear-naked choke … Akihiro Gono has not been submitted in more than 12 years. Not since a fourth-round loss against Kazuhiro Kusayanagi at a Shooto event on Oct. 4, 1996 has Gono raised the white flag in a fight. To give that some perspective, President Clinton had not yet won re-election to a second term at the time … Stephan Bonnar, though, he was nearly knocked cold by a first-round elbow from Jon Jones, still has only been finished by one man -- Machida. That stoppage came on a first-round cut in 2003 … Three of Jake O'Brien's four wins inside the Octagon have come by decision. Interestingly enough, he christened his professional MMA career with seven straight first-round finishes … Wilson, despite his defeat to Howard, still has never been knocked out in 20 career bouts … Manny Gamburyan, a man who holds a knockout victory against reigning Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago, seems to be on shaky footing after back-to-back losses. Might a move to the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight division be in his future?
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