April 30, 2011

UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields

event posterevent posterUFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields was held on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

The main event was be preceded by preliminary bouts on Spike TV at 8 p.m. ET, and Facebook streams at approximately 6 p.m. ET.

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UFC 129 sold out with an estimated 55,000 tickets. UFC 124 event currently holds the organization's attendance record with 23,152. The event officially drew 55,724 fans for a live gate of $12.075 million, beating both promotional and North American MMA records. Spike TV's one-hour special scored a 1.0 household rating and 1.5 million viewers, which ranks it fourth among the 18 total "UFC Prelims" specials.

UFC 129 Post Fight Analysis
Play-by-Play UFC 129 Play-by-Play
Sherdog preview UFC 129 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims
UFC 129 Tapology
UFC 129 Pre-Fight Analysis

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 12. Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields

UFC 129
12. Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields (Welterweight Championship bout): Georges St-Pierre defeated Jake Shields via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47) to retain the UFC Welterweight Championship.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 11. Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick

UFC 129
11. Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick (Featherweight Championship bout): José Aldo defeated Mark Hominick via unanimous decision (48-45, 48-46, 49-46) to retain the UFC Featherweight Championship.

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José Aldo and Mark Hominick were each awarded $129,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 10. Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida

UFC 129
10. Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida (Light Heavyweight bout): Lyoto Machida defeated Randy Couture via KO (kick) at 1:05 of round 2.

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Lyoto Machida was awarded a $129,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 9. Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

UFC 129
9. Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (Light Heavyweight bout): Vladimir Matyushenko defeated Jason Brilz via KO (punches) at 0:20 of round 1.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 8. Benson Henderson vs. Mark Bocek

UFC 129
8. Benson Henderson vs. Mark Bocek (Lightweight bout): Benson Henderson defeated Mark Bocek via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 7. Rory MacDonald vs. Nate Diaz

UFC 129
7. Rory MacDonald vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight bout): Rory MacDonald defeated Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26).

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 6. Sean Pierson vs. Jake Ellenberger

UFC 129
6. Sean Pierson vs. Jake Ellenberger (Welterweight bout): Jake Ellenberger defeated Sean Pierson via KO (punch) at 2:42 of round 1.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 5. Claude Patrick vs. Daniel Roberts

UFC 129
5. Claude Patrick vs. Daniel Roberts (Welterweight bout): Claude Patrick defeated Daniel Roberts by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 4. Ivan Menjivar vs. Charlie Valencia

UFC 129
4. Ivan Menjivar vs. Charlie Valencia (Bantamweight bout): Ivan Menjivar defeated Charlie Valencia via TKO (elbow) at 1:30 of round 1.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 3. Jason MacDonald vs. Ryan Jensen

UFC 129
3. Jason MacDonald vs. Ryan Jensen (Middleweight bout): Jason MacDonald defeated Ryan Jensen via submission (triangle choke) at 1:37 of round 1.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 2. Kyle Watson vs. John Makdessi

UFC 129
2. Kyle Watson vs. John Makdessi (Lightweight bout): John Makdessi defeated Kyle Watson via KO (spinning back fist) at 1:27 of round 3.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields - 1. Pablo Garza vs. Yves Jabouin

UFC 129
1. Pablo Garza vs. Yves Jabouin (Featherweight bout): Pablo Garza defeated Yves Jabouin via submission (triangle choke) at 4:31 of round 1.

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Pablo Garza was awarded a $129,000 bonus for Submission of the Night.

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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields (Preview)

event posterevent posterClick the stars to rate how good you think UFC 129 will be.

UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields is to be held on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

UFC 129 sold out with an estimated 55,000 tickets. UFC 124 event currently holds the organization's attendance record with 23,152.

The main event will be preceded by preliminary bouts on Spike TV at 8 p.m. ET, and Facebook streams at approximately 6 p.m. ET.

UFC 129 Pre-Fight Analysis
Sherdog preview UFC 129 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims
UFC 129 Tapology

MAIN EVENT
Georges St. Pierre (169.5) vs. Jake Shields (169) (WW title bout)
Jose Aldo (145) vs. Mark Hominick (145) (FW title bout)
Randy Couture (203.5) vs. Lyoto Machida (204.5)
Jason Brilz (204.5) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (205.5)
Benson Henderson (156*) vs. Mark Bocek (155)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV)
Rory MacDonald (170.5) vs. Nate Diaz (171)
Sean Pierson (170) vs. Jake Ellenberger (formerly Brian Foster)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook)
Claude Patrick (169.5) vs. Daniel Roberts (170.5)
Ivan Menjivar (136) vs. Charlie Valencia (135.5)
Jason MacDonald (185) vs. Ryan Jensen (185)
Kyle Watson (155) vs. John Makdessi (155.5)
Pablo Garza (145) vs. Yves Jabouin (146)

* Ben Henderson ended up making 156 in his 2nd attempt at making weight after an initial weight of 156.5.

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April 29, 2011

Fight Picks and Predictions for UFC 129: Best Of All Time

By Nicholas Bailey

It's the biggest event in UFC history. It has two world title fights featuring undeniably elite fighters, including the pound-for-pound greatest fighter alive, in terms of level and amount of competition beaten, Georges St. Pierre. It has former champs galore, as well as some up-and-coming fighters and some guys that are just solid challenges to anyone you put them up against. If you aren't hyped up for UFC 129, you're on the wrong website, because you aren't an MMA fan.


Champ Georges St-Pierre (-400) vs. Jake Shields (+315) (for welterweight title)

BestFightOdds.com

This is a huge fight, and a very important one, with the elite of the elite challenging each other, and the greatest active fighter trying to further burnish his legacy, but when it comes down to it, it's not a particularly interesting fight. The style matchup is very predictable and unfavorable, and even if an upset does occur, it will happen in a very unsurprising way.

Simply put, Jake Shields is at a massive stylistic disadvantage against someone with the takedown defense and strategic discipline GSP brings to every fight. Shields is very, very good at one thing. He's one of the few fighters that is legitimately a submission threat to anyone, and he has good enough wrestling to back it up and avoid getting completely embarrassed most of the time. On the other hand, he does have glaring weaknesses which will probably be prominently displayed in this fight.

First and foremost, Shields has below-average standup for an MMA fighter, let alone an elite MMA fighter. Beyond simply seeming uncoordinated and stiff when he's striking, he seems actually afraid of getting hit. Usually this isn't a problem, because he can force a grappling match, but someone with the kind of distance control GSP brings into the cage is going to eat him alive.

Secondly, Shields doesn't seem to have elite-level cardio. This hasn't kept him from winning recently, since he's been finishing more fights, and his technical skills mean opponents wear out much more quickly than he does, since they are forced to counter technique and position with strength and exertion. GSP is not going to get stuck underneath Shields and wear himself out, and it's going to be very hard for shields to snatch up a submission early and polish off the champion.

Georges is the complete package, with every tool a fighter could want, but he also employs them with the prudence of a veteran champion. He comes into every fight with a gameplan that carefully protects him from his opponent's offensive tools, and he executes it with machine-like discipline. In this fight he will almost assuredly start off by forcing a striking battle with Shields, and only work takedowns in the early rounds if Shields stands up straighter and goes into a pure kickboxing mode. As the fight progresses, GSP might mix in a few takedowns simply to keep Shields off-balance, but he will stand right back up if he cannot keep Shields on the defensive by aggressively working to pass.

Beyond his preternatural ability to hit takedowns, Georges is a very good positional grappler. He is one of the nastiest guard-passers this side of Hatsu Hioki, and he is exceptionally difficult to sweep. In that respect, Shields is going to have real trouble on the ground with him. However, Georges has shown that he doesn't have the deep technical understanding of submissions that a fighter like Shields has. He can avoid submissions through his reflexes and suberb positioning, but, as we saw against Dan Hardy, he doesn't know every submission inside and out, and can give lesser fighters openings to escape or reverse him. Shields is the kind of guy that knows a dozen counters for every escape, so if Georges does slip up and get into a bad position, Shields does have a chance. Too bad Georges almost never slips up.

Shields does have a slim chance of scoring the upset, since he's become such a potent submission finisher. If Georges gets carried away with domination, he could leave his neck out for a guillotine and get finished, but it's supremely unlikely. Shields will have a very small window to capitalize, since he'll be too tired and beat up to threaten in the late rounds, and Georges won't be engaging in grappling in the early going.

This fight has a good chance of rehabilitating Georges reputation, as he could score a dominant finish against a fighter that doesn't have the striking chops he does and is less durable than a monster like Fitch, Penn, or Alves. This has a good chance of looking like the second Hughes fight, with Georges simply running over a fighter that can't measure up to him standing. Only in MMA could such a necessary, well-matched fight between elite competitors be such a mis-match. GSP by TKO round 2.


Champ Jose Aldo (-455) vs. Mark Hominick (+355) (for featherweight title)
BestFightOdds.com

Mark Hominick is a technician. Jose Aldo is a killer. That's going to be the difference here. Hominick has some of the best striking technique to be found anywhere in MMA, but unless he can really fold someone in half with a body shot, he has trouble polishing off opponents. Jose Aldo is the kind of fighter that explodes into a finish given the slightest opening. Even though Hominick is a very tough fighter and has never been stopped by strikes, he's probably going to get finished here. If Aldo cracks him and wobbles him, the beating isn't going to stop until Hominick is done.

Hominick will make a fight of it, but unless he can land the best body shot of his life, he's not going to stop Aldo, and it's hard to believe Hominick is capable of doing enough damage to keep Aldo from being dangerous throughout the fight.

The one wrinkle to this fight that's really hard to predict is Aldo's submission game. He comes from a camp of elite grapplers, all his training partners say he has a very good grappling game, but he has hardly shown it. Hominick is a skilled grappler, but he has shown vulnerabilities to submissions in the past. It will be very interesting to see what happens if this fight turns into a grappling match, but it's not likely to go much further than Aldo taking the back and pounding away for a stoppage if Hominick gets hurt and goes down. Jose Aldo by TKO round 3.


Jason Brilz (-115) vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (-105)

BestFightOdds.com

Who would have imagined that Jason Brilz would be facing off against Vladimir Matyushenko on the main card of the biggest UFC event of 2011? It's hard to believe. Like most wrestler vs. wrestler fights, this is going to come down to who is the superior wrestler. Matyushenko is vastly more experienced, and his striking is more fluid, so if he can control Brilz in the fight, he can win. Matyushenko is also getting to be an old man, so if Brilz can put him on his back, he'll wear out and Brilz will walk out the winner. In this case, the wrestling will probably be a wash, so Matyushenko's experience and striking acumen will be enough to win a close decision. Matyushenko by Decision.


Randy Couture (+275) vs. Lyoto Machida (-325)

BestFightOdds.com

Randy Couture is a brittle old man. The guy who gutted through bloody wars with elite fighters is gone. He is still a formidable wrestler, but he doesn't have the toughness anymore, and his overall game is showing its age now as well, looking limited and old-fashioned where it used to be versatile and progressive.

This is a fight that will make Machida look good. Couture doesn't have the chops to hold Machida down, he'll get punished every time he closes the distance, and even if he does fight into a clinch, Machida is very good there. The big problem Couture will have is closing the distance. Simply put, Machida wants to fight from far outside, countering if opponents try to reach him with strikes, and moving away if they try to clinch with him. Couture has long relied on some basic boxing to get in close, and those punches are going to open him up to crushing counters. Machida will avoid, avoid, avoid, but when Couture slips up with his footwork and lets Machida put a solid one across his chin, Lyoto is going to flip the switch and go for the kill. The contrast in “The Dragon” is quite stark. While he bides his time and has very little offensive output for most of a fight, when he hurts an opponent, he goes berserk trying for the finish. Couture is creaky enough now that he'll lose his equillibrium after one or two hard counters, and Lyoto will be all over him from there. Lyoto Machida by TKO round 1.


Mark Bocek (+110) vs. Ben Henderson (-125)

BestFightOdds.com

This is one of those fights where each man is well-suited to exploit the other's vulnerabilities, so it should provide some real interesting action and probably a finish. Bocek has really gotten his grappling game rolling in MMA, showing that he can threaten anyone, regardless of their pedigree on the floor, but he is an average wrestler and doesn't have the level of striking or overall fitness that most fighters bring to the cage in the modern era. Benson Henderson is a terrific athlete and wrestler, who is widely revered for his ability to escape all kinds of submission attempts. Unfortunately for Benson, that means that he tends to end up in lots of bad positions, because otherwise he wouldn't have had chances to show off all his nifty escapes.

It's going to be very hard for Bocek to deal with the wrestling or endurance of Henderson, and conversely it's going to be tough for Henderson to overcome the grappling advantage of Bocek, or escape submissions applied with such a high level of technical skill. If Henderson fights intelligently, trying to stay on the feet and wear Bocek down, he should be able to cruise to victory, although Bocek has the wrestling chops to create scrambles that could let him take threatening positions, especially since Henderson has such a tendency to get wild in his fights. This will be an entertaining scrap that could catapult the winner into contender status and doom the loser to undercard fights. Benson Henderson by decision.


PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV)

Nate Diaz (-110) vs. Rory MacDonald (-115)

BestFightOdds.com

This is going to be a complete dogfight. Rory MacDonald had some of the wind come out of his sails after a late-fight loss to Carlos Condit, but he remains a fighter to watch in the division, and a fantastically exciting one at that. The book is out on Diaz and his tendency to get trapped on his back, and MacDonald has the ground and pound to punish him for that kind of weakness, but may be wary of going to the ground with a skilled grappler, after what happened with Condit. In any case, fans should expect two-way violence, lots of blood, and a very competitive fight. If MacDonald can't hold it together throughout the fight, Diaz will submit him. If Rory keeps his head in the game and doesn't wear out, he will probably do enough damage and maintain enough good positions to beat Diaz up for a decision. Rory MacDonald by decision.


Jake Ellenberger (-200) vs. Sean Pierson (+175)
BestFightOdds.com

Pierson tap-danced on the face of a very green Matt Riddle in his last outing, but he is in for a much bigger challenge from Jake Ellenberger. Jake's striking isn't much more refined than Riddle's, but he's a much harder hitter and a far superior wrestler. Pierson is going to get dumped on his head and beat up, and that's all there is to it. Jake Ellenberger by decision.


PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook)
Claude Patrick (-150) vs. Daniel Roberts (+125)

BestFightOdds.com

This should be a thrilling, but one-sided grappling match. Roberts is a better wrestler and submission fighter, and should be able to find a submission on Patrick, provided he steers clear of the nasty guillotine Patrick always has in his back pocket. Roberts may not ever become a great fighter, but he's already a great grappler, so he will always be a threat to fighters like Patrick that rely on their submission skills. Daniel Roberts by submission round 1.

I think that Roberts is undervalued here, being overlooked because he's not a particularly great MMA fighter in a fight where all that will matter are his grappling abilities. Patrick has a chance of guillotining him or beating him up on the feet, so I wouldn't make a huge play, but there is value here.


Ivan Menjivar (-185) vs. Charlie Valencia (+155)

BestFightOdds.com

This fight sees Menjivar trying to regain some mainstream traction, this being the third fight in his return to MMA after a multi-year sabbatical. Valencia is a tough opponent, but he's the kind of tough journeyman that should challenge but not threaten a talent like Menjivar. Valencia's submission defense will be his downfall here, as Menjivar works a very dangerous grappling game in an action-packed fight. Ivan Menjivar by submission, round 2.


Jason MacDonald (+105) vs. Ryan Jensen (-120)

BestFightOdds.com

MacDonald makes his return to the UFC after a gruesome break to his leg that put him on the shelf for about a year, and he does so in a fight that is very winnable. MacDonald doesn't have the durability to be an elite fighter, but he is a skilled grappler and can probably find a submission on Ryan Jensen, who really seems like he needs to iron out some kinks in his grappling game if he wants to stick around in the UFC. He probably won't get the chance, and will get the boot after losing here. Jason MacDonald by submission, round 2.


John Makdessi (-200) vs. Kyle Watson (+160)

BestFightOdds.com

Makdessi needs a lot more experience to stick around in the UFC's lightweight division, but someone at Zuffa must think the fighter has real potential, as he's being given a light touch with some TUF leftovers in this fight. Makdessi should be too much for Watson, who simply isn't a UFC-level competitor. Makdessi by TKO round 3.


Pablo Garza (+140) vs. Yves Jabouin (-165)

BestFightOdds.com

Garza surprised everyone (including himself) with his horrifying flying knee knockout of Fredson Paixao, but he will struggle to get that lucky against a striker like Yves Jabouin. Jabouin will be Garza's ticket out of the UFC, and will get back on the developmental track he belongs in with his nasty striking skills. Yves Jabouin by knockout round 3.

My plays:
1u on Daniel Roberts at (+125) to win 1.25u


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