St. Pierre, Lesnar winners at UFC 87

MINNEAPOLIS – Complete match-by-match analysis from the Target Center on Saturday night:

UFC welterweight championship: Georges St. Pierre (17-2) def. Jon Fitch (21-3) to retain title
Judges’ scores: 50-43, 50-44, 50-44 for St. Pierre.
Yahoo! Sports score: 50-44 for St. Pierre.
Key moment: Huge straight right hand in the first round, followed by a series of elbows, put Fitch down and closed his left eye
Analysis: St. Pierre has been a brilliant fighter in his UFC career, but he may have been at his best on Saturday against Fitch. St. Pierre showed phenomenal standup, landing several hard right hands. He was powerful on the ground, hitting Fitch with punishing blows, and his wrestling was sensational. A fight with lightweight champion B.J. Penn would be a huge bout and would test every facet of St. Pierre’s game.

Heavyweights: Brock Lesnar (2-1) def. Heath Herring (29-14-1).
Judges’ scores: 30-26, 30-26, 30-26.
Yahoo! Sports score: 30-26, Lesnar.
Key moment: Lesnar landed a crushing right hand to Herring’s left eye just seconds into the fight.
Analysis: Lesnar showed the potential that some think may one day carry him to a heavyweight title. He’s quick, strong and athletic. He made his share of mistakes, but he’s a physical specimen who is going to be a handful for anyone who faces him. A matchup with Cheick Kongo is expected next.

Lightweights: Robert Emerson (10-6-1) def. Manvel Gamburyan (9-4).
How: TKO due to strikes at 0:12 of the first round.
Key moment: Emerson landed a right that knocked Gamburyan down and then a left while he was on the ground that stopped him in one of the fastest knockouts in UFC history.
Analysis: Beating his castmate from Season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter was a quality win for Emerson, who showed more power in his fists than he had before. But the loss is particularly disappointing to Gamburyan, who has lost all of the momentum he’d built up on the show, where he reached the finals.

Lightweights: Kenny Florian (10-3) def. Roger Huerta (22-2).
Judges’ scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Yahoo! Sports score: 30-27 Florian.
Key moment: Florian landed a knee and then a big right hand that shook Huerta in the second.
Analysis: This fight might have showcased two future lightweight champions. But Florian is more advanced in his career than Huerta and it showed, as Florian had a more varied attack. Hometown favorite Huerta was powerful, showed a good chin and continued to attack. He simply hasn’t fought the caliber of opponents that Florian has so far. But if Huerta can continue to develop, he’ll once again be near the top of the division.

Middleweights: Demian Maia (9-0) def. Jason Macdonald (21-10).
How: Submission due to rear naked choke at 2:44 of the third round.
Key moment: Maia’s exceptional quickness enabled him to quickly roll into position to slap on a rear naked choke after he was pounding Macdonald from the guard.
Analysis: Maia, who was cornered by Wanderlei Silva, is a world-class fighter and is going to be a significant force in the middleweight division. He is strong, fast and athletic and is a two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. If he develops his standup game, he may yet pose the biggest threat to middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

Welterweights: Tamdan McCrory (11-1) def. Luke Cummo (9-6).
Judges’ scores: 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.
Yahoo! Sports score: 29-28, McCrory.
Key moment: McCrory did a great roll into a rear naked choke in the first round which he held for a long period. The choke had to take a lot out of the Matt Serra-trained Cummo, who had to fend off a series of submissions in the fight.
Analysis: McCrory showed good jiu-jitsu and a great work ethic, but he’s a tweener and may be too big for 170 and too small for 185. At 6-foot-4, he has an extremely lean body for a welterweight, which does give him great leverage in his ground and pound.

Heavyweights: Cheick Kongo (22-5-1) def. Dan Evensen (10-3).
How: TKO due to strikes at 4:55 of the first round.
Key moment: After a very slow first round, Kongo landed a powerful right hand that floored Evensen and set up the finish.
Analysis: Kongo is a talented but inconsistent fighter. He’s had big wins (Mirko Cro Cop) and disappointing losses (Carmelo Marrero) in his UFC career. Most of the first round on Saturday was very slow with little occurring. But the power that makes Kongo a huge fan favorite surfaced and put Evensen down and out.

Light heavyweights: Jon Jones (7-0) def. Andre Gusmao (5-1).
Judges’ scores: 30-27, 29-28, 30-27.
Yahoo! Sports score: 30-27, Jones.
Key moment: Jones wanted to fight and pressed the action from start to finish, unlike Gusmao.
Analysis: Former IFL competitor Gusmao came into the fight with a big reputation, but he failed miserably to live up to it. He showed little offense and was worse when Jones put the heat on him. Gusmao is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but never seemed to try to work for a submission until the final 20 seconds. A one-time junior college wrestling champion, at least Jones tried to make it a fight and was working hard throughout as Gusmao essentially backed away as much as he could.

Welterweights: Chris Wilson (13-5-1) def. Steve Bruno (12-4).
Judges’ scores: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Yahoo! Sports score: 30-25 Wilson.
Key moment: Wilson took control of the bout early with strikes and knees and dominated from start to finish.
Analysis: Either Team Quest’s Wilson is very good or Bruno is very bad. I’m betting on Wilson being very good. In his first fight since going the distance with Jon Fitch, Wilson was totally dominant in every aspect. He showed a varied attack and the only knock that could be put on him was that he wasn’t able to finish despite the fact he had Bruno in so much trouble. Though the judges didn’t see it this way, the last two rounds were clear 10-8 affairs.

Welterweights: Ben Saunders (6-0-2) def. Ryan Thomas (13-2).
How: Submission due to arm bar at 2:28 of the second round.
Key moment: Saunders landed a kick and a pair of right hands that floored Thomas and set him up for the finish.
Analysis: Saunders showed great improvement, particularly in his standup game. He was punishing Thomas with a series of body kicks from the early stages of the fight, which softened the one-time Eastern Illinois wrestler up for the finish. Saunders, a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter, showed the ability to become a factor down the road in the 170-pound division.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Aug 10, 2008