An Ultimate Fighting Championship record 55,000-plus fight fans filed into Toronto’s Rogers Centre to witness Mixed Martial Arts history. All seven UFC champions were also in attendance; two of which were actually on the card. How did they fare? Could Randy Couture extend his winning streak to four before going into retirement? Let’s look back at UFC 129:
Jose “Scarface” Aldo (Champion) defeats Mark “The Machine” Hominick (Challenger) via Unanimous Decision- UFC Featherweight Title
If you are unable to look at Mark Hominick in a new light after this fight, you might want to reevaluate what it takes to garner respect. Hominick, as he said he would, was able to go blow for blow with Aldo in the boxing department. Aldo started in a blaze of fury, striking the challenger from every angle. As the bout progressed, Hominick was able to land punches on the champion. Having the wherewithal to sense danger, Aldo incorporated double-legged takedowns into his approach, getting himself out of harm’s way. The most intriguing moment of the fight in the fourth round was when Aldo got into Hominick’s guard, landing an elbow shot to the forehead. Instantaneously, a knot (or hematoma) the size of an MMA glove found a home on The Machine’s forehead. The growth of it could be likened to a Daffy Duck cartoon. Referee “Big” John McCarthy and physicians checked thoroughly to see if Hominick could continue.The London, Ontario native could not bow out on his homeland. What could’ve been viewed as the demise of Hominick, actually provided a sense of urgency. In the fifth and final round, Hominick scored a takedown on Scarface. He kept the champion on his back with strikes and submission attempts. As valiant of an effort as Hominick’s last stand was, it was too little too late. Aldo dominated the first four rounds, thus retaining his title. Hands down, this is the most gutsy performance I’ve seen in my brief following of Mixed Martial Arts!
George “Rush” St. Pierre (Champion) defeats Jake Shields (Challenger) via Unanimous Decision- UFC Welterweight Title
Shields’ plan was to get St. Pierre to the ground and test his threshold of pain. The champion did not allow him any opportunity to do such a thing. St. Pierre planned to knock out Shields, but Shields proved to be tougher on his feet than most projected. In the beginning, the two struggled to find opportunities to capitalize. Their unfamiliarity of each other could not have been more clear. The champion was able to work in a mix of kicks and punches. Shields attempts to engage with strikes, but wasn’t as successful. GSP perpetuated his advantage in the form of striking. Shields attempted to take St. Pierre, but to no avail. GSP was careful not to fall into Shields’ clutches, taking the smart route of maintaining distance with a variety of punches and kicks. Shields eventually caught on and unleashed more strikes. GSP was able to work in some takedowns, just about dictating the direction of the title fight. Rush would not walk away from this bout unscathed, as he, along with Shields, received war marks. In the last round, Shields continued striking with GSP, targeting his damaged left eye. The consensus of this bout is that the champion did not fight his fight. The indictment on him is his inability to finish opponents via knockout or submission. He was apologetic about his performance and vows to improve. Whatever the case was, the judges felt he was good enough to retain his title. GSP’s winning streak is now at nine.
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida defeats Randy “The Natural” Couture via Knockout (1:05, Second Round)- UFC Light Heavyweight Bout
In previewing the fight I anticipated most, I talked about Machida’s tendency to fight at a distance, his camp’s vow of him being the aggressor and Couture’s ability to close space and impose his will. The one element I grossly neglected was Machida’s place of desperation. Machida entered this bout with a two-fight losing streak. Everyone who follows UFC knows fighters are sent packing when they suffer three straight falls. Machida is a former Light Heavyweight champion and could ill afford to fall further from grace than he already has.The bout opened with the two fighters trying to crack each other’s codes. Machida would stick and move, while Couture was trying to figure out how to shorten the gap. Machida proved to be more of the aggressor; got into the clinch with Couture and caught him with an uppercut. The Natural caught The Dragon with body shots, only to receive a two-punch combo to his face in return. Fight fans were witnessing maybe a new, edgier Machida. In the second round, Couture is looking to work in some strikes onto Machida, while remaining mindful of what he endured in the opening round. Out of nowhere, Machida lands a Karate Kid, Krane kick, which sent the legend to the mat and ultimately into retirement at the 1:05 mark.
UFC 129 had its share of bizarre instances, which brought about a few questions going into the future. Will Randy Couture, 47, really hanging up his gloves for good? Was Jose Aldo fully recovered from his recent injuries? Is George St. Pierre ready for the super-fight with Anderson Silva that MMA nation is clamoring for? Did Machida get himself back into title contention with a win over a fighter at the tail end of his career? What’s next for Jake Shields?
So many questions, just as many scenarios. We’ll see how UFC’s front office iron out these issues.
By Antoine Hoffman