St-Pierre pushes back Shields with a high-kick to the chest
Over 55,000 Fans Fill Rogers Centre for UFC’s First Stadium Event
What a night!
Those are the words probably echoed by many in attendance at UFC 129 on Saturday night – from the average fan to media to UFC President Dana White.
UFC’s debut event in Toronto and first stadium spectacle was a smashing success. 55,724 fans filled Rogers Centre to witness over six hours of entertainment that featured great fights all evening including two title bouts. The gate for the event raked in $11.5 million Canadian.
The night was almost perfect. With the exception of the main event, Welterweight title fight between Montreal’s Georges St-Pierre (GSP) and Jake Shields, every fight, including the undercards, was worthy of making highlight reels. Tallying up the undercard and main card, Canadian boxers finished the event with a record of 6-4.
St-Pierre retained his title as did Brazilian José Aldo in the co-main event against Canadian Mark Hominick in a fight was hands down the most memorable and dramatic of the night. The other big fight on the main card saw UFC legend Randy Couture knocked out in his last ever fight by Brazilian Lyoto Machida.
White has often referred to Toronto as the ‘Mecca’ of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and was proven correct after successfully putting on the biggest event in UFC history. Afterwards he was more than happy with how it all turned out.
“It’s been incredible,” said White. “It’s been a long time in the works, a lot of planning went into this thing. I told you guys that this was going to be different than any other event.”
“Just the screens and the rigging and all these things we put together for this event made this the biggest event, not just money wise, the biggest event ever done here. I’m pretty proud of what we did and I love this place, the fans here are incredible, the media is great. It’s been a great experience.”
When asked if UFC would return to Toronto, White replied, “Are you kidding me? Of course we’re coming back. We’d be back next Saturday if we could.”
St-Pierre vs. Shields
UFC 129 at Rogers Centre in Toronto
The St-Pierre-Shields fight was clearly a dud, especially when compared to the other great fights that happened earlier and considering all the hype that preceded the bout. St-Pierre (22-2) retained his belt after being pushed by Shields (26-5-1) in a bout that went all five rounds. The judges scored the fight 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47 in favour of St-Pierre.
Although Shields did not seriously threaten at any moment, St-Pierre lacked the killer instinct. Almost the entire bout was contested standing up, which was exactly the Canadian’s game plan going into the fight, but Shields didn’t exactly force his opponent to the mat either. He did make attempts early in the fight but either missed entirely or St-Pierre exhibited his great trademark takedown defence.
St-Pierre did not come out of the fight unscathed as Shields landed a punch to his eye in the second round. The strike left ‘GSP’ with blurry vision for the rest of the fight and was taken to the hospital for evaluation and treatment afterwards. At one point in the third round he motioned to his corner that he could not see out of the eye. This might be the reason why he was more conservative and being very cautious, allowing the fight to go the distance. However, St-Pierre has lacked the killer instinct that fans believe he needs to have in order to truly be a great fighter. Once again, he did just enough to ensure he came out with a victory.
“I couldn’t deliver much like this I’m sorry for the fans,” said St-Pierre in the octagon after the fight. “I wanted to make a knockout or a submission.”
“His striking was a lot better than I expected. I expected to handle him striking and then finish him on the ground.”
St-Pierre has now won nine fights in a row and successfully defended his title for the sixth straight time, with five of those going the distance in five rounds. Although his streak of consecutive rounds won was halted at 33.
White, like the fans would have preferred a more entertaining main event but was quick to defend St-Pierre and point out that Shields is a great fighter.
“This guy (Shields) is no joke,” said White. “This guy’s been unbeaten for a very long time – six years, 15 straight fights.”
“Do I wish there were fireworks and these two were standing in middle of the cage blasting each other? All that stuff’s great. But it doesn’t always play out that way. I know Georges is going to be the one that catches all this stuff that he didn’t finish another fight but Georges is fighting the absolute best guys in the world.”
Fight of the Night
Aldo delivers a punch to Hominick’s head
The obvious fight of the night was the co-main event Featherweight Championship bout between Aldo and Hominick who hails from Thamesford, ON. Aldo was the clear favourite and dominated the first four rounds, especially the third and fourth when he gave the Canadian quite the beating. Hominick was taken down repeatedly and with Aldo on top he was pounded with punches and elbows to the head in quick succession. After the fourth round, Hominick was left with a baseball-sized welt on his forehead drawing groans as fans reacted with disgust.
The Canadian looked hideous and was examined by a doctor twice with Hominick pleading each time that he was still fit enough to fight. After checking to see that his peripheral vision was still ok, the doctor declared Hominick was able to continue the bout. In the final round, he finally managed to take Aldo down to the mat and mounted him. Hominick then returned the favour by giving Aldo a beating of his own right up until the final bell rang.
The fight went to a decision with the Brazilian coming out on top 48-45, 48-46, and 49-46. Aldo (19-1) was extremely lucky and looked tired in the final round while Hominick (20-9) more than redeemed himself. The Canadian showed true heart and determination surely winning over many new fans who tuned in from around the world. Perhaps a rematch is in the cards.
Aldo celebrates his win while a beat up Hominick looks on
In the end, both Champions survived but looked beatable. Doubts must have entered the minds of Aldo and St-Pierre, not to mention the fans, after their performances.
UFC Legend Couture Retires
In the other marquee matchup of the night, Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida faced Randy (The Natural) Couture in what was supposedly the last fight of his career. Both fighters exchanged strikes in the first round, but Machida ended the fight in the next round. The Brazilian absolutely stunned Couture with a quick front kick to the face, sending the 47 year-old crumpling to the mat. Couture was hit so hard that it broke his tooth and was left dazed. Machida learned the kick from martial artist actor Steven Segal who also successfully taught Anderson Silva to the move a few months ago.
After the fight Machida (17-2) was clearly teary-eyed and called Couture ‘a hero’. While Couture (19-11) revealed to Joe Rogan that he was finished and that it was indeed his last fight. The crowd then gave him a farewell standing ovation while chanting “Randy” numerous times as he left the octagon.
Machida is about to land his knockout kick to Couture’s head
UFC rewarded four fighters with bonuses of $129,000 each in three separate categories. Machida’s flying front kick earned him with the Knockout of the Night. Aldo and Hominick each earned the bonus for their Fight of the Night. The Submission of the Night went to Pablo Garza for his triangle choke on Montreal’s Yves Jabouin in the very first fight of the undercard.
From beginning to end, UFC 129 featured a lot of storylines, dramatic twists and surprises. Despite the disappointment of the main fight, the event definitely lived up to all the hype, sending fans home happy and leaving them with the feeling that they were a part of UFC history.
For more in-depth information about each fight, click HEREto read my UFC 129 Bout by Bout Fight Notes with post-fight quotes from most of the fighters.
Our Oye! Times photographer JP Dhanoa has posted 11 galleries of pictures from UFC 129. Click HERE to view all of them as well as some of his other galleries.
For more coverage of UFC 129, download or stream the latest 500 Level – Toronto Sports Podcast. Hosts Aman Dhanoa and Ben Trattner along with special guest Neil Scott discuss the record breaking event along with other Toronto sports news and more.
Download or stream the 500 Level podcast with co-hosts Aman Dhanoa and Ben Trattner as they discuss news, opinions, and views on Toronto sports from the Upper Deck. Leafs, Raptors, Jays, Argos, TFC – nothing is off limits. It’s good to be a fan!
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