Sunday, February 8, 2009

(OLD) UFC 94

Alright, tonight is UFC 94, St. Pierre VS Penn 2. Jake, I know that you are as of yet not a fan of the sport of the future, but with this blog, my hope is to have you flooding out fight predictions yourself very soon, and while I can bet that you won't be watching this fight, I'll make sure that you know how the thing was resulted every time that we talk. But enough about Jake...
BJ Penn, "The Prodigy", is considered by most that follow the sport to be either the best 'pound for pound' fighter in the world, or at least ranked among the small group of martial arts practitioners that would garner that particular moniker. His record (13-4-1) could be deceiving at first glance, but taking a closer look you'll see that his losses were to men that have a combined record of 94 wins, 20 losses with just a lone draw. The names on BJ Penn's win list are a who's who of some of the best to ever compete in mma; Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Din Thomas, Matt Serra, Takinori Gomi, Sean Sherk, Joe Stevenson, Caol Uno and even a pair of Gracies ( the legendary Renzo and younger brother Rodrigo). He submitted Gomi in the third round of a fight that was to determine the best lightweight in the world.
BJ received his Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu after just three years of training, giving to his nickname of "The Prodigy". He became the only American to win the Brazilian Jui-Jitsu world championship before making his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, defeating Joey Gilbert by KO in the first round.
In past fights, BJ has shown an Achilles heel in the form of poor conditioning. Because of seemingly natural skills coupled with a privileged upbringing in Hilo, Hawaii, training wasn't a main priority for the talented fighter as he relied more on instinct and heavy punching power to get the job done. But since the third round TKO loss to Matt Hughes (a fight that he was dominating until a severe rib injury occurred toward the end of the 2nd), BJ has shown a more dedicated approach to the fight game, tightening up his training and dietary habits, and has been undefeated since. But he will have to crank that dial if he hopes to get past his next opponent, a huge roadblock in the form of a French-Canadian superstar.
Georges St. Pierre, more common to casual fans of mma, is a monster phenom of the sport. With victories over Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes (twice), Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Karo Parisyan, and most recently, Jon Fitch, the resident of Montreal, Quebec, Canada has accomplished more in the fight game at the young age of 27 than most hope for in the span of a lifetime. He carries a belt, the Welterweight championship of the UFC, that he has once already won and relinquished, winning a decisive rematch over Matt "The Terror" Serra, one of only two men to defeat him in 19 professional bouts. In fact, Georges St. Pierre already has a win over the man that he will meet tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A 2006 return to the Octagon for BJ Penn saw him drop a razor sharp split-decision to "Rush" that was mired in controversy. After a blood-splattered dominating first round by Penn that left GSP with a lacerated face, a bleeding eye and broken nose, the French-Canadian put on a wrestling takedown clinic in the 2nd and a lone takedown in the third frame that won the nod of the judges over a BJ Penn that had slowed down due to said poor conditioning. After the fight, BJ was quoted as saying "He (GSP) spent the night in a hospital, I spent the night partying at a bar". From my point of view, Georges won that fight with the takedown in the third and edged it out. But tonight they meet again, going on three years after the first battle, and they both come in very different fighters. Both have had to overcome roadblocks that still haunt them in the eyes of naysayers and critics. When GSP lost his belt to Matt Serra via knockout (actually tapout), he was criticized for seeing a sports psycologist to help him get over reaching such success at a young age in a metioric rise and losing it all because of being convinced by hangers on that on his worst day he could beat the seemingly outmatched Serra. Like Penn, he has gone undeafeated since then and eventually earned the title back from Serra in dominating fashion. BJ Penn has proven that he has fixed the problem in regards to his cardio, but as each of his fights loom closer, it is still the number one criticism against him. It is said that if either win or lose, it will be due to these issues; Penn for his conditioning, St. Pierre for his intermittent mental weakness. At the weigh ins yesterday, neither of their respective issues seem to be present, as Penn's size was almost equal to his opponent, while there was an intensity in GSP's eyes and body language that rivaled that of his Hawaiian counterpart.
I am not going to pretend anymore to know who will pull this one out tonight. Although my bias would give BJ Penn the nod by KO in the third, objectively, this is THE hardest fight that I've ever tried to predict. I will, however, go ahead and stick with that sentiment...
Keys to Victory:
GSP: You are without a doubt the better athlete. Your fighting style, stemming from a Kyukoshen Karate base, is much more technical, and you've shown that you can keep the intensity level very high for the entire 5 rounds. This is where you will win this fight. If you can take this fight to the later stanzas, you will increase your chances of notching another win over "The Prodigy".
Penn: You are a natural born fighter, your fighting style is much more instinctual as it seems that your body knows what to do in nearly every presentable situation while under fire. As well, you are bringing knockout power with you up to the welterweight level. Your Jui-Jitsu is unrivaled. If this fight is to end before the 5th round bell signals it so, it will be you that has your hand raised, and on to a brilliant legacy.

either that, or
BJ Penn via clinic. I expect him to literally throw a clinic at Georges.

What say you guys?

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