On a night when the champions retained their titles, Georges St-Pierre showed his ability to focus, even with just one eye, while Jose Aldo had to hold off 55,000 and one people trying to get him to yield his belt.
St-Pierre’s streak of consecutive rounds won came to an end but he held off Jake Shields to win a unanimous decision at retain his welterweight belt Saturday in Toronto’s Rogers Centre at UFC 129. Aldo racked up an early lead against Mark Hominick to defend his featherweight title, but by the end of the fight was on his back, doing his best to hold off the Canadian’s hard charge, spurred on by 55,000 screaming fans.
The vision in St. Pierre’s left eye was compromised in the second round, but fortunately no one from the commission ever asked him about it. He fought on, thwarting Shields’ takedown attempts with relative ease and peppering him with a jab for the first three rounds.
Shields was able to somewhat turn the tide over the final two frames as St-Pierre clearly was bothered by his lack of vision and, later, a face that was bloodied from Shields’ striking. Shields actually won a pair of rounds from St-Pierre in the eyes of two of the judges, who scored him a 48-47 loser. The other card was 50-45 for the Canadian St-Pierre.
“It was the second round. I think it got scratched or something,” St-Pierre said. “I cannot see with my left eye right now. It’s very blurred. I am going to have to go to the hospital.”
It was clear heading into the fight that Shields’ best chance to win was by putting St-Pierre on the ground, and the champion used his great wrestling to avert the mat. Shields’ boxing became more and more effective as the fight wore on, and it surprised St-Pierre.
“His striking was much better than I expected,” St-Pierre said. “I was expecting to beat him more standing, and then put him on the ground later in the round. I wanted to make a better performance. Jake is an amazing fighter, he’s much better than I thought. I give him props.”
With Shields, a former champion at welterweight in EliteXC and at middleweight in Strikeforce, now history, all the talk about St-Pierre’s next opponent will turn to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Silva will fight Yushin Okami when the UFC goes to Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 27, but after that, St-Pierre might lay in waiting.
“We’ll see. I have not considered anything yet,” St-Pierre said. “Going up in weight class would reconsider my whole career. Maybe there are other ways to do things. We’ll sit down and talk.”
Aldo built up an early lead then held on as Hominick rallied behind his opponent’s adoring crowd.
Aldo won a unanimous decision but found himself in the unlikely position of fighting off his back as Hominick worked a ground-and-pound fueled by the massive Canadian crowd. Hominick was able to survive numerous looks by referee John McCarthy and the ringside physician at a tremendous contusion that went from his right eyebrow to his hairline. He kept pushing, despite being badly bloodied about the left cheek, and nearly got in enough blows to finish Aldo, who could do no more than slow Hominick with wrist control for the final few minutes.
“Congrats to Mark Hominick, he is a hell of a fighter,” Aldo said through an interpreter. “I knew he had great standup skills, but I came very prepared with my Muay Thai. The weight cut was as usual, but because I had some time off, I had put a lot more muscle on, so I had to adapt.”
Aldo, despite looking gassed in the final few minutes, matched Hominick’s traditional post-fight regimen of push-ups. Meanwhile Hominick found fault with his effort which, if nothing else, left no doubt about his heart and gas tank.
Hominick’s wife is due with the couple’s first child, a daughter, this week.
“I hope I didn’t put you into labor, I hope you’re OK,” he said to his wife. “I’d like to thank John McCarthy for not stopping the fight. I was never giving up.”
With no quit, Hominick nearly pulled off the miraculous finish, spurred on by a record crowd more than twice as big as any in UFC history.
“I didn’t throw enough combinations,” said Hominick. “I was throwing single shots. I let him get one up on me, and I was worried about the takedowns too much. I could have attacked more on the ground. I fought hard for you guys.”