GSP-Penn I: 1stRound Analysis

Written by Tom Ngo
January 27th, 2009

With the most highly anticipated rematch in MMA history just days away, 5thRound.com would like to review and analyze the opening round of the first Georges St-Pierre/BJ Penn bout. It was possibly the most decisive round of the fight, and what occurred in the opening minute influenced what was in store for the remainder of the fight.

Penn started out aggressively, attacking the French-Canadian from the opening bell. He appeared quicker, taking the center of the Octagon and dictating the pace of the fight.

After winning a couple of exchanges, Penn threw a half-closed jab about one minute into the 1stRound and his thumb landed in the right eye of of St-Pierre. Referee Herb Dean didn’t see the accidental shot, and GSP fought on after briefly reaching to his eye.

The poke caused GSP to lose his sight for a moment and seconds later, Penn landed an uppercut that clipped the tip of his nose, causing it to bleed excessively.

“I was really hurt,” GSP stated. “I was really afraid. I took a step back and I told myself now it’s gonna show if you are a real warrior or if you are somebody who doesn’t belong in the Octagon.”

Penn had St-Pierre so confused and frustrated, he didn’t know what to do.

“After the (1st) Round he walked to my corner, that is how discombobulated he was,” Penn said about his dominant 1stRound. “The ref was like, ‘hey go to your corner.’“

The up-and-comer was able to bounce back and wrestle his way to winning the 3rdRound, and arguably the second.

From the looks of both fighters’ faces after the fight, it appeared as though Penn had dominated the fight. GSP’s right eye was black, swollen, and bloodied and his nose flowing like a faucet.

That is the argument Penn stands by to this day. He was the one that appeared to inflict more damage. Sure GSP was able to best him with four takedowns to one, but St-Pierre didn’t do much when the fight was on the ground.

“I couldn’t believe I lost,” Penn confusingly stated. “When I was walking back (to the locker room), (it) just kept going through my mind , like, ‘How did this guy win? Where is the marks? Where is the pain?’ The only pain is in my hands from punching his head.”

The fact of the matter is, if that bout would have taken place in Japan, where judges place more emphasis on overall damage inflicted rather than takedowns, Penn may have won the fight. Especially if you base it on facial appearance alone.

But the fight took place in the UFC, where “Octagon control” is a key element to winning a fight. Takedowns ensure control of a fight. In addition, if the accidental eye-poke didn’t happen, would Penn have been able to land the uppercut that GSP couldn’t see coming which caused most of the damage?

“Georges, me and you know who was the real fighter in that fight,” expressed Penn. “Me and you know who the real fighter is right now.”

The question now is who will be the real fighter on January 31st at UFC 94?

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