By Andrew Levine
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 19, 2006
For two years, Georges St. Pierre pleaded to anyone who would listen that if given his shot at redemption against the most dominant welterweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's 13-year history, he would surely reverse his fortunes.
St. Pierre lived up to his promise last night against Matt Hughes at UFC 65 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, unseating the defending champion with a furious second-round technical knockout.
After Hughes submitted him in the opening round of their first matchup in October 2004, St. Pierre blitzed through five top-tier opponents to garner another title shot. Even then, his long-awaited rematch -- initially slated for September -- was further delayed by a groin injury he suffered while training.
If St. Pierre (13-1) had one discernable advantage over Hughes it was his striking ability, and not surprisingly he kept the fight on his feet in the early stages. A stiff right hand toward the end of the round sent Hughes (40-5) spiraling to the canvas, but he was saved by the bell.
Sensing he had the champion on the brink of defeat in the second round, St. Pierre landed a left kick squarely to the side of Hughes's head, planting him to the mat. St. Pierre then pounced on Hughes with a torrent of unanswered punches and elbows, and referee John McCarthy stopped the fight 1 minute 25 seconds into the round.
Tim Sylvia (23-2) retained his heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Jeff Monson.
Monson, a world-class grappler who was surrendering an 11-inch reach advantage to the 6-foot-8 champion, saw several of his takedown attempts thwarted early in the fight. In the third round, Monson (22-6) finally landed a double-leg takedown and eventually gained side control of Sylvia.
But Sylvia deftly escaped a chokehold from the bottom position, returned to his feet and landed a crushing knee to Monson's body at the end of the round. Having warded off Monson's best offering, Sylvia assumed control in the fourth round, surprisingly beating the submission specialist at his own game by dominating Monson on the ground.
On the undercard, Norfolk native Brandon Vera knocked out heavyweight Frank Mir in the first round; welterweight Nick Diaz earned a second-round TKO over Gleison Tibau; lightweight Joe Stevenson submitted Dokonjonosuke Mishima in the first round and Andrew McFedries won via first-round submission over Allesio Sakara.