BJ Penn talked a great deal about how he’s a much better fighter than when he lost a split decision to Georges St. Pierre in 2006.
St. Pierre chose to let his actions do the talking Saturday night.
The welterweight champion went out and demonstrated his own dramatic improvement since that fight with a fourth-round knockout of Penn in the main event of an Ultimate Fighting Championship card at the MGM Grand Garden.
Before a crowd of 14,885, St. Pierre retained his belt with a dominant performance over the lightweight title-holder.
St. Pierre (18-2) took Penn (13-5-1) to the ground at will in the final three rounds. Once on the mat, St. Pierre easily passed Penn’s guard and inflicted damage each time.
“I fought my fight, so BJ had to fight my fight and it made him more tired than me,” St. Pierre said. “I put him out of his comfort zone.”
Penn staggered to his corner after the fourth round, and a ringside doctor recommended referee Herb Dean stop the fight. Penn was taken to a hospital afterward for an examination but quickly released.
During the first round, Penn fought off most of St. Pierre’s takedown attempts and even was able to land a few punches while St. Pierre had him pinned against the cage.
It was a different story once the second round began. St. Pierre scored a quick takedown and wound up in Penn’s guard. He worked to side control and took over the fight.
From that position, St. Pierre landed a barrage of short right hands and connected with a few knees to the ribs of Penn.
It was more of the same over the final two rounds as St. Pierre used his dramatic size advantage. He weighed in only two pounds heavier than Penn on Friday, but was easily 15 pounds heavier by the time the fight began.
“I had more weight, so that’s why my strategy was to have a clinch fight in the first round and make him carry my weight around,” St. Pierre said.
He also said he was provoked by Penn’s boasts about his ability prior to the fight.
“Of course, he put on some extra motivation when he said some bad things about me and people (close to me), so it helped me out,” St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre will next take on Thiago Alves, who entered the cage after the fight to confirm the matchup.
In the co-main event, light heavyweight Lyoto Machida knocked out Thiago Silva as time expired in the first round to lift his record to 14-0.
Silva fell to his back after an exchange against the cage and Machida pounced with a punch that knocked the downed Silva cold. Machida then threw another punch that appeared to land after the bell, but Silva was already out.
Referee Yves Lavigne gave Silva a few seconds, but the previously unbeaten Brazilian (13-1) didn’t move and the fight was called to a halt.
Machida had been criticized for his lack of finishing opponents, but that was not the case this time. Ironically, it was the first stoppage on the card after the first eight fights went to the judges’ scorecards.
In his second UFC fight, Jon Jones remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over veteran Stephan Bonnar.
Jones, a junior college national champion wrestler, threw Bonnar around for much of the fight before tiring late.
Jones also landed an array of strikes. A spinning elbow in the first round put Bonnar face-first on the canvas. Jones also landed a knee square on Bonnar’s chin in that round.
Karo Parisyan and Clay Guida each earned split-decision victories.
Parisyan has been slowed by a variety of injuries and was fighting for the first time since April. He beat Dong Hyun Kim in a matchup of judo specialists. Guida used his wrestling ability to frustrate Nate Diaz.
Akihiro Gono, known for his elaborate entrances, had by far the most unorthodox walk to the cage of the night. It didn’t help him once he got to the octagon, however.
After Gono and his corner men walked all the way to the cage donning dresses and wigs while performing a perfectly choreographed dance routine, Jon Fitch dominated the Japanese fighter for the full three rounds to earn a unanimous decision.
Fitch got back on track after his 15-fight winning streak was ended by St. Pierre in August.
Also on the undercard, Thiago Tavares earned a unanimous decision victory over Manvel Gamburyan.
Dan Cramer, Jake O’Brien and John Howard each earned split decision victories.ROUND-BY-ROUND BLOG BY JEFF WOLF