UFC 84: Penn puts out Sherk, keeps belt


LAS VEGAS — Lightweight champion B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn stopped Sean (The Muscle Shark) Sherk at UFC 84 on Saturday night when the former title-holder was unable to continue after a third-round finale that left him down and dazed.

Earlier, Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva scored a convincing knockout win and fellow light-heavyweight Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz lost by unanimous decision in what appears to be his UFC swansong.

Things got interesting at the post-fight news conference when Ortiz showed up and started taking questions before any other fighters arrived. There were some negotiations with a UFC official — with Ortiz’ girlfriend Jenna Jameson yelling "Stay up there. You deserve to be there. You’re a champion." — and Ortiz was allowed to stay on the podium.

Ortiz and UFC president Dana White tried briefly to play nice but were soon trading barbs, with White eventually saying the two needed to behave like "grown-ups."

Sherk arrived late at the news conference, his face battered and swollen.

The crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was solidly behind Penn, booing Sherk as he was introduced in the mixed martial arts main event.

The first round was fought on the feet, with Penn (14-4-1) eventually finding his range and cutting Sherk under the right eye. Sherk, the wrestler, tried for just one takedown early in the round and was stuffed.

Sherk (35-3-1) kept standing in the second and his face got uglier, with a cut under the left eye. Another takedown attempt failed. It was more of the same in the third. Penn failed in a takedown attempt, took a few punches but clinically punched back.

And as the round ended, Penn finally drove felled Sherk back with a pair of punches and then toppled him with a flying knee and punched away until the referee stepped in.

"Very, very satisfying," said Penn. "Sean Sherk is a great competitor."

Sherk said later he had no recollection of how the fight ended. Penn said the bell rang, he asked the referee whether the bout was over and Sherk motioned as if enough was enough.

The Hawaiian fighter then asked the fans if they wanted to see him fight welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre of Montreal, drawing huge cheers in return. St. Pierre won a split decision the first time they met.

The Penn-Sherk fight was a grudge match fought against the backdrop of a positive steroids test last July that cost Sherk his title. Sherk denied cheating, but Penn wasted few opportunities to taunt him as a cheat. And the crowd chanted "Steroids, Steroids" during the bout.

Penn, a former welterweight champion, won the vacant 155-pound title in January at UFC 80 by stopping Joe Stevenson.

Silva scored his first win in the UFC in dominating fashion, taking out Keith (The Dean of Mean) Jardine in just 36 seconds.

The hard-punching Brazilian (32-8-1) caught Jardine trying to land a kick and toppled him with a right and a left, then punched away until the referee stepped in. The win ended a string of three losses for the 31-year-old former Pride champion, albeit to Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell, Dan Henderson and Mirko (Cro Cop) Filipovic.

Jardine (13-5-1) lay on the ground for some time, seemingly unconscious, after the fight was stopped and needed help getting on his stool. He was taken to hospital to be checked out.

The outcome muddies the light-heavyweight division in that Silva was coming off a loss to Liddell, who was beaten by Jardine. It’s back to the drawing board for the Dean of Mean, who was also demolished in short order by Houston (The Assassin) Alexander at UFC 71.

Ortiz was beaten in probably his last UFC outing, dropping a decision to undefeated Brazilian Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida.

The 33-year-old Ortiz, with 21 bouts in the Octagon under his belt, is headed for greener mixed martial arts pastures after fulfilling his UFC contract. The former light-heavyweight champion leaves after a prolonged war of words with White, who once managed him but said before the fight he has no interest in being in the "Tito Ortiz business."

The UFC did no favours for Ortiz by matching him up with the 29-year-old Machida, a smart fighter who blunts his opponent’s attacks. The Brazilian is not flashy but very effective as Ortiz learned.

Ortiz (16-6-1) was the aggressor in the first, but Machida (13-0) stuffed his takedown attempts and scored with some kicks. He took Ortiz down as the round ended, scoring with a string of shots to the head. A frustrated Ortiz motioned Machida to bring it to him in the second, but the Brazilian continued to elude him and pick his shots. When Ortiz did it again late in the round, Machida hit him in the head.

Ortiz, once the master of ground and pound, was unable to take Machida down. And he went down himself late in the third, felled by a vicious knee to the torso. Bloodied by the blows that followed, Ortiz almost locked on a last-ditch triangle choke but Machida somehow escaped.

"I was thinking I’m going to die but I’m not going to tap," said Machida, who called Ortiz a legend.

"I thought I had it for a second," said Ortiz, who promised he will keep fighting, albeit probably not in the UFC.

Ortiz, thanking both his girlfriend and his ex-wife, opted not to slag White in his post-fight interview.

All three judges gave all three rounds to Machida.

Penn made US$250,000, including a win bonus of $125,000, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while Sherk collected $35,000. The purses often do not tell the whole story, however, since bonuses are not included.

Ortiz’s purse, for example, was listed at $210,000, the same as UFC 73 last July when he drew Rashad Evans. But Ortiz ended up making $710,00 from that fight once his cut of the pay-per-view was counted. Machida made $100,000, including a $50,000 win bonus.

Silva collected $225,000, including $75,000 for knockout of the night, to just $10,000 for Jardine, although White said the loser would be getting more than that. He declined to say how much more.

Celebrities in the crowd for the Memorial Day weekend card included Donald Trump, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and David Spade.

Cameroon light-heavyweight Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou stopped Japan’s Kazuhiro Nakamura to register his first UFC win in a battle of former Pride fighters. Nakamura’s handlers threw in the towel after the first round, which ended with Sokoudjou (5-2) crumpling Nakamura (11-8) with a right to the jaw.

Canadian-born middleweight Ivan Salaverry ran into a jiu-jitsu buzzsaw in the form of Brazilian newcomer Rousimar Palhares (17-1). After defending a rear naked choke in the early going, Salaverry became Palhares’ 15th submission victim when the Brazilian slickly transitioned to an armbar to prompt the tapout at 2:36 of the first round.

The loss probably marked the end of the UFC road for the 37-year-old Salaverry (12-6-1), who now makes his home in Seattle. Palhares earned an extra $75,000 for submission of the night.

Thiago Silva (13-0) survived an early flurry from debutant Antonio Mendes to stop the former prison guard at 2:24 of the first round in an all-Brazilian light-heavyweight battle. Thiago Silva was floored by a high kick to the head early but recovered and dominated on the ground, with Mendes (14-3) eventually tapping out to strikes.

Mendes was the only one of six UFC newcomers on the card to lose.

Croatian debutant Goran Reljic (8-0) rallied after taking some early punishment to stop light-heavyweight Wilson Gouveia (10-5) at 3:15 of the second round, flooring him with a right to the head. They earned $75,000 each for fight of the night.

Shane Carwin (9-0) opened his UFC account in style, scoring a 44-second TKO over Christian (The Hungarian Nightmare) Wellisch in a heavyweight battle between an engineer (Carwin) and lawyer (Wellisch).

South Korean welterweight Dong (Stun Gun) Hyun Kim also impressed in his Octagon opener, pummelling England’s Jason Tan (6-3) with elbows and some vicious ground and pound. The judo black belt (10-0-1) ended it via TKO 25 seconds into the third.

Japanese welterweight Yoshiyuki Yoshida (10-2) was another UFC newcomer to make a splash, submitting Jon Koppenhaver (6-2) after just 56 seconds via anaconda choke.

Veteran lightweight Rich (No Love) Clementi (40-12-1) had his hands full with England’s Terry Etim (10-2) and had to survive two guillotine attempts en route to a unanimous decision for his sixth straight win.

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