TORONTO, April 30 – By the time welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre finished his UFC 129 main event bout with Jake Shields before a record UFC crowd of over 55,000 fans at Rogers Centre, he looked like he had been in a fight. And two of the three judges agreed, as St-Pierre retained his title by two razor-thin scores of 48-47 and one more comfortable margin of 50-45. See post-fight interview
Entering the bout, St-Pierre had won 30 consecutive rounds. Tonight that streak was broken, but he retained his undisputed title for the sixth time.
“His striking was much better than I thought,” said St-Pierre, who injured his left eye in the second round. “I expected to beat him standing up and then finish him on the ground. I’m sorry to the fans, I wanted a knockout or a submission.”
Shields immediately began firing off kicks to start the bout, either to find his range or get rid of some nervous energy. When St-Pierre fired off a kick of his own to the midsection, Shields caught it in search of a takedown, but the champion calmly backed his way to the fence on one leg and battled his way free. Shields, undeterred, kept using his kicks, while St-Pierre came up short on a few of his own. In the second half of the round, St-Pierre began opening up his punching arsenal, particularly trying to tag his foe with right hands. It was his stiff left jab that was doing much of the damage though, with Shields even briefly switching to southpaw to throw off the champion’s rhythm, but to no avail.
Staying busy, Shields tried to get off to a good start in round two, but his strikes had little steam behind them. St-Pierre, on the other hand, was throwing with bad intentions with his right hand, finally jarring the challenger with nearly two minutes gone. Shields shook it off quickly, but his offense was remaining in neutral thanks to St-Pierre’s quick punches and solid defense.
Both fighters came out fast to start round three, and the strategies didn’t change, they only got sped up. Almost 90 seconds in, St-Pierre landed another big right, forcing Shields to go for a takedown that got rebuffed. After that, it was more of the same until St-Pierre broke the pattern with a late takedown of Shields in the final 30 seconds.
After some quick 1-2s by Shields to open round four, St-Pierre broke him out of his rhythm with a quick takedown, but the two rose immediately. Again, the bout settled into the pattern of the previous three rounds, and Shields, fighting with his mouth open, looked winded. Midway through the round, Shields hit the deck courtesy of a head kick, but again the resilient vet got up to his feet with no problem and got in some solid punches which bloodied St-Pierre’s nose. Now it was the champion looking at the clock and backing up as Shields advanced, but a couple of stiff jabs to the mouth left GSP in control at the bell.
The fifth round was a carbon copy of the previous four, with Shields surprisingly not doing everything in his power to look to turn things around by getting a takedown. For the champion’s part, he continued pecking away with his punches, cutting and bloodying Shields until the bout’s conclusion.
With the win, St-Pierre improves to 22-2; Shields falls to 26-5-1.