UFC 87 saw the first title defense of George St. Pierre's second reign as UFC Welterweight champion.
Round 1 was all about getting Jon Fitch on the ground, which St. Pierre did with gusto. Fitch proved himself competent in his ground game with strong Jiu-Jitsu, managing to bring the bout back to a stand-up contest multiple times. Fitch held his own until the 2:42 mark when Rush rocked him with a right counter.
With Fitch visibly limp, GSP rained down a full minute barrage of lefts and rights. He put Fitch on his back and got him in half guard twice. Fitch mounted no offense or reversals, but regained his baring and his constant movement paid off as St. Pierre essentially punched himself out.
Rush won the round, but a cagey Fitch bought himself passage into the second.
The second round was a very different affair. There was little fanfare even though it was basically all stand-up. Both combatants were obviously still slightly drained from the previous round. It's safe to say that neither fighter saw the first round going the way it ultimately did. Rush and Fitch would probably agree this second round was all about regaining some composure and giving thought on how to proceed.
This round could have been ruled even, but due to the exhibition of a bit more offense St. Pierre took it.
The third started much like the second until Rush clocked Fitch, again off a right counter, a minute into the round. Fitch fell, back hitting the mat, and Rush went on the attack with Fitch in trouble.
GSP got all four hooks in and had Fitch's back but couldn't finish him. Fitch flipped it around and actually got GSP on his back. For a full minute Fitch kept a dominant mat posture on St. Pierre with both men jockeying for position.
From his back, George went in for a sweep. Fitch lost position and St. Pierre had flipped Fitch again. However, GSP could not capitalize and Fitch was back on his feet 30 seconds later.
With about a minute left in the round, George St. Pierre exploited the right counter again.
First, a right hand. Then, a Muay Thai clinch and a left knee to Fitch's head. Finally, a right face kick through his opponent's guard. Fitch's back hit the cage and as he slid down to the mat he received a right knee from GSP. Rush went in for a second attempt to finish, but again could not. It was apparent that his last flurry took enough out of him to allow Fitch to pop back up to his feet within seconds.
Despite flurries from both fighters, the round's final moments showed both men to be flat footed. It ended with and an additional takedown by GSP leading to both combatants laying on the mat looking completely spent.
Round 3 definitely went to GSP, but it was a round for the books and one of the best in recent memory.
The fourth round was almost the second round revisited. However, there was a major difference: the pacing. Neither man was dominant. Within the first minute, the two fighters were flat-footed. Each tried to show the other they still had energy when circling left or right, but both quickly set to their heels.
These two men had been going to war and it shows. Much like a boxer, St. Pierre controlled the center of the octagon for much the round. The final minute ended in a failed takedown attempt by Fitch and another failed finish attempt, this time via submission try, by St. Pierre.
Although it was not scored that way, in my opinion this was an even round.
In round five, we got the initial final round flurry to start. After the first minute, the fight went back to the ground with Rush in the dominant position. The jockeying was minimal, now it was all about defense.
The final two minutes saw both men fighting through fatigue. George, throwing half-powered punches, tried to keep Fitch busy while he had him on his back. And Fitch, using whatever he had left in the tank to stay alive and hopefully take advantage if Rush slipped up. But, it was a stalemate.
The fight ended with a unanimous decision, deservedly so, for GSP.
After a reminder of the particulars, though I must ask, how the hell is that a boring fight?
To be concluded ...
Elliott Saltares is a sports pundit, fan, and contributing writer for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on twitter @elliottsaltares.
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