Penn stops Sanchez to keep title at UFC 107
B.J. Penn retained his UFC lightweight championship Saturday night
with a fifth-round TKO of Diego Sanchez in the main event of UFC
Referee Herb Dean, with the advice of the ringside doctor, stopped the fight at 2:37 of the round after a Penn kick caught Sanchez, opening a gaping gash above the challenger's left eye.
Penn, who is undefeated at 155 pounds for the past eight years, methodically attacked Sanchez through the first four rounds, mainly with punches and defending against Sanchez's attempts to take out the champion's legs.
In the semifinal, former heavyweight champion Frank Mir made quick work of Cheick Kongo, winning by submission with 1:12 gone in the opening round. It was Mir's first fight since losing the championship to Brock Lesnar in July.
The crowd was clearly in Penn's corner, unleashing chants of "B.J., B.J., B.J." throughout the bout.
Sanchez had questioned Penn's stamina and conditioning entering the fight, and it appeared in the early rounds that he was content to try and see if the champion could go the distance.
Penn, who looked fresh throughout, was content to stay on his feet and punch with the challenger. Sanchez was staggered by a right in the first, and Penn rained fists on him while he was on the ground.
Penn was the far more effective puncher in the fight.
Sanchez tried to take Penn down by diving for his legs, many times unsuccessfully. Despite the numerous attempts, Penn rarely was taken off his feet, and Sanchez usually paid the price by catching shots from the champion for his wasted effort.
That led to Sanchez bleeding even before the final blow that ended the fight.
Mir and Kongo had a battle of words in the days leading up to the fight. Kongo had said Mir was a big mouth and he was going to stop the former champ's talk.
Kongo didn't get much of a chance. The two circled each other at first, but about 40 seconds in, Mir rocked Kongo with a left hand to the chin, sending him to the mat.
Mir immediately followed with more punches, and then locked in a guillotine choke. Kongo was unconscious when Dean lifted his arm to check, the hand dropping to Kongo's leg.
When Mir released the hold and began his celebration, Kongo tumbled over on his back limply, sending his corner into the ring. He eventually walked out as Mir called for another chance to get the heavyweight championship back.
In the first bout of the pay-per-view event, 6-foot-11 Stefan Struve used his reach and long legs to keep Paul Buentello at bay. Struve used a strategy of leg kicks in the third round to gain a majority decision, much to the dismay of the crowd, which booed the ruling. Two judges had the bout at 29-28, and the third scored it 28-28.
In the much anticipated lightweight fight between Clay Guida and Kenny Florian, Guida sustained a cut to the scalp in the first round, leading to a timeout as the doctor checked the cut before letting the match continue. Midway through the second round, Florian caught Guida with a right hand, sending him to the mat. From there, he pounded on the downed opponent before Guida tapped out on a rear naked choke.
Jon Fitch was able to withstand a tough fight from Mike Pierce to win an unanimous decision.
In the card's opener, T.J. Grant defeated Kevin Burns on a TKO with 3 seconds left in the first round. In other bouts, Damarques Johnson forced Edgar Garcia to submit in the first round with a triangle choke. Rousimar Palhares defeated Lucio Linhares in the second round of a middleweight bout with a heel hook.
In a welterweight bout between undefeated fighters, Johny Hendricks, the four-time All-American wrestler from Oklahoma State, dominated Ricardo Funch, winning an easy unanimous decision, while Matt Wiman also scored an unanimous decision, defeating Shane Nelson. Alan Belcher took out Wilson Gouveia in the first round, landing eight straight punches before sending Gouveia to the ground, where he took another barrage of shots before the referee stopped the bout, giving Belcher a TKO victory.