Post-fight talk from UFC 94
Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White forecast Saturday night's Georges St-Pierre-B.J. Penn title fight as his organization's "Hagler-Hearns." Not quite, it was closer to Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao.
"I'm not going to use size ... " White said before he would acknowledge the disparity in size and power between welterweight champion St-Pierre and lightweight title-holder Penn. "Georges beat him."
Yes, he did, badly in the second, third and fourth rounds, before Penn, like De La Hoya, failed to answer the bell late in the fight. And in the post-fight news conference, St-Pierre explained he weighed "about 185, 187" when he stepped into the octagon. Penn, remember, wasn't even close to the welterweight limit of 170 pounds, coming in at 168, at the weigh-in Friday night.
"Adding more weight, that was my strategy," St-Pierre said. "I had a better chance by making it more physical, by making him carry my weight. It made him tired."
By subjecting Penn to a series of take-downs, turning the fight into a wrestling match and canceling Penn's striking and Brazilian jujitsu gifts, St-Pierre turned the battle of champions into a blowout that ended with hearty MMA followers calling for an ending to a late, crushing barrage.
"The person who's less tired is the person who controls the pace," St-Pierre said as Penn went to the hospital for precautionary symptoms from "getting his butt kicked," White cracked. Added St-Pierre: "I fought him according to my rules."
Now, St-Pierre will take on the top contender in his weight class, Thiago Alves, and Penn will return to lightweight, where he so clearly belongs, to make his next title defense against Kenny Florian later this year.
"Guys should stay in their weight class for a while," White said in an understatement.
Yet as excited as the UFC president got about staging a fight between St-Pierre and Penn, it's quite logical to foresee he'll be even more enthusiastic about staging a future bout between the UFC's top two pound-for-pound fighters, middleweight champion Anderson Silva and St-Pierre.
"Would I like to see those guys fight? Absolutely," White said without committing to a potential timetable for a meeting, say next New Year's or Super Bowl weekend.
But shouldn't Saturday's result make everyone leery about staging another battle of belt-holders?
"Every opponent is different," St-Pierre said. "If I fight someone else, I'll have a different strategy. I always look for the best challenge. He [Silva] impresses me. It's why I want to fight him."
But he did mention it will take extra time to get bigger for that fight.
"I've never taken a steroid in my life, that's the truth," St-Pierre said. "To fight [Silva], I'd have to put more muscle on, and it'd take a few more months."
Also late Saturday, White declined to grant light-heavyweight Lyoto Machida a title shot at Rashad Evans despite his impressive first-round knockout of previously unbeaten Thiago Silva in the final second of the first round.
White said he'd first have to watch the March fight between former champ Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Keith Jardine to determine who'll get Evans next, and it seems apparent Jackson will by winning in Columbus, Ohio, next month.
— Lance Pugmire
Photo: Georges St-Pierre lands a right cross to the head of B.J. Penn during their UFC welterweight championship fight on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Credit: Eric Jamison / Associated Press