The main event at UFC 107 featuring Lightweight Champion BJ Penn and challenger Diego Sanchez was billed as Penn’s toughest test to date and a true battle between the top two lightweights in the sport.
If that was the case, there is a clear separation between the champion and No. 2, not to mention everyone else.
On the eve of his 31st birthday, Penn absolutely dominated Sanchez in every facet to earn his second title defense and improve his record to 15-5 when the referee stopped the fight due to a cut in the fifth round. His boxing prowess Saturday night will be, perhaps, his biggest cause for celebration today.
The dominating effort all began early in the first round when a stellar right hand to the jaw of Sanchez sent him to the canvas for the first time in his career. Penn pounced on his opponent immediately, swarming him with a vicious ground and pound but somehow Sanchez survived, shook out the cobwebs and struggled to his feet.
He would survive into the fifth round but that’s really all could say about Sanchez’s performance Saturday night — he survived.
Penn picked him apart for four and a half rounds until referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight due to a cut (a pretty nasty one on Sanchez’s forehead). Penn’s boxing was simply too much for the challenger to handle and everytime he tried to shoot in for the takedown Penn was simply too good with his sprawl and balance, avoiding every takedown.
After the stellar performance, Penn showed great class and sportsmanship in checking on his opponent and heralding his toughness and heart. The question now is who can truly challenge “The Prodigy”?
The way he’s fighting now probably no one. But the UFC will have to continue to put guys who have earned their shot (potentially Gray Maynard, Frank Edgar, Tyson Griffin and even Kenny Florian again) in front of him.
Mir submits Kongo in the first
Former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir (13-4) backed up all the pre-fight talk with a dominating first round submission victory of his own over the Parisian, Cheick Kongo.
Mir landed a brutal left hand that sent Kongo to the mat and then immediately jumped upon the fallen warrior, eventually slapping on a guillotine choke that not even the jaws of life could have pried open.
The win catapults Mir right back to the top of the division where fighters like Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar reside. All of whom better be wary of this new, bulked up Mir who has been revived since losing his belt to Lesnar.
Florian manhandles Guida
Kenny Florian (13-4) also scored a bounce back win with his second round rear naked choke submission win over “The Carpenter” Guida.
Coming off his championship fight loss to Penn, Florian used one of his patented vicious elbows to gash Guida. Florian followed it up in the second round with an onslaught of punches that knocked Guida down and allowed him to take his opponent’s back, eventually ending the fight with the choke.
Florian could see a rematch with Sanchez (who dominated him in TUF 1 finale) next.
Fitch, Belcher and Struve also victorious
Jon Fitch continued his impressive streak, earning his 19th win in 20 fights by earning a unanimous decision victory over a very game Mike Pierce.
Meanwhile, Alan Belcher put on a “Fight of the Night” worthy performance in front of his hometown crowd in overwhelming Wilson Gouveia to eventually earn the TKO victory in the first round of their 195 lb catchweight bout.
Disappointed he wasn’t on the maincard, Belcher made sure that he won’t be left off again as he earned his second straight “Fight of the Night” bonuses.
Also, Stefan Struve utilized his enormous reach and height advantage to earn a decision win over “The Headhunter” Paul Buentello.
As mentioned above, Alan Belcher and Wilson Gouveia earned Fight of the Night honors for their one round slug fest in which Belcher emerged the victor. Each earned a $60,000 bonus for his efforts.
The knockout bonus was awarded to TJ Grant whose punishing right hand ended an early flurry by Kevin Burns.
The submission bonus went to DeMarques Johnson for his slick triangle choke on Edgar Garcia earned him the win after surviving a peruvian necktie.