by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Ken Pishna)
LAS VEGAS – A sold out crowd packed the Mandalay Bay Events Center for UFC 79: Nemesis to see the rubber-match between Georges St-Pierre and Matt Hughes and the highly anticipated bout between former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and former Pride Fighting Championships middleweight champion, “The Axe Murderer,” Wanderlei Silva.

St-Pierre defeated Hughes to capture the interim UFC welterweight title and Liddell slugged his way to a unanimous decision win over Wanderlei Silva.

St-Pierre dominated Hughes, beating him at his own game, grounding, pounding, mounting and eventually submitting the greatest welterweight in UFC history.

Despite winning the interim title, St-Pierre said, “Matt Serra is the real champion,” and refused to put the interim belt on.

The second loss to St-Pierre has Hughes pondering his future in fighting. The former champion stated, “I just don’t know how much longer I have in this.”

The crowd remained on it’s feet throughout the Liddell vs. Silva bout as the two legendary fighters exchanged blows for three rounds in an epic war that lived up to the hype. We now know who would win between Liddell and Silva; a question debated by mixed martial arts fans for six years . . . Chuck Liddell.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou’s anticipated UFC debut was foiled by the still-undefeated Lyoto Machida. Machida dropped the Cameroonian with a left hand in the second round and eventually mounted Sokoudjou. After working some elbows, Machida locked on an arm triangle choke forcing Sokoudjou to tap out.

Machida has been criticized for not finishing fights, but looked impressive finishing a fighter who had run through two top ten fighters in his last two fights. “I feel I’m ready for the belt now,” Machida told the sold out crowd.

In the first bout of the night, Mark Bocek ground out a decision over Doug Evans with takedowns and effective ground and pound garnering a unanimous decision.

Roan Carneiro and Tony DeSouza put on an impressive grappling exchange in the first round, but Carneiro took over the fight in the second stanza. After slamming DeSouza to the canvas, Carneiro was able to take his back, flatten him out and work strikes until the referee halted the action.

Dean Lister defeated Jordan Radev by unanimous decision, but was unable to finish. Lister said after the fight, “The fight went more or less how I expected. I tried my best to finish him when I had him mounted, but I ran out of time. I definitely think that if I had another minute I would have been able to finish him.”

Manny Gamburyan impressed in his return to the Octagon after the shoulder injury against Nate Diaz in The Ultimate Fighter season five finale, defeating Nate Mohr by ankle lock in the first round. In his post-fight interview, Gamburyan said he thought he may have broken Mohr’s leg with the submission.

It was later revealed that medical personnel suspected that Mohr may have a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Gamburyan commented, “I’m so excited to comeback after my injury and perform for my fans. Nate was very tough. I hope he is able to heal and get back in the cage soon. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to fight.”

James Irvin vs. Luis Cane was exciting while it lasted with both fighters landing big shots, which had each in trouble. Cane was able to take Irvin down by catching a body kick, but as Irvin was working his way back to his feet, but still on his knees, Cane delivered an illegal knee that rendered Irvin unable to continue. Irvin was declared the winner by disqualification.

In the grudge match of the evening, Rich Clementi submitted Melvin Guillard by rear naked choke in the first round. A post-fight gesture by Clementi infuriated Guillard who had to be restrained by referee Herb Dean. After the war of words, a street fight and UFC bout, the two still have “No Love” for each other.

In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Clementi said, “He still hasn’t learned his lesson,” as Guillard had to be held back by event security. Addressing the crowd, Clementi continued, “The bottom line is that I showed what Melvin has known for six years . . . that I’m the better all around fighter.”

In heavyweight action, Eddie Sanchez poured it on late in the fight to finish UFC newcomer Soa Palelei by TKO.

Liddell and Silva were awarded Fight of the Night honors while Georges St-Pierre took home Submission of the Night and Eddie Sanchez was awarded Knockout of the Night. The bonuses handed out for each category for UFC 79 were $50,000.

-Georges St-Pierre def. Matt Hughes by Submission (Armbar) at 1:54, R2
-Chuck Liddell def. Wanderlei Silva by Unanimous Decision
-Eddie Sanchez def. Soa Palelei by TKO (Strikes) at 3:24, R3
-Lyoto Machida def. Sokoudjou by Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) at 4:20, R2
-Rich Clementi def. Melvin Guillard by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:40, R1
-James Irvin def. Luis Cane by Disqualification (Illegal Strike to Downed Opponent) at 1:51, R1
-Manny Gamburyan def. Nate Mohr by Submission (Ankle Lock) at 1:31, R1
-Dean Lister def. Jordan Radev by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Roan Carneiro def. Tony DeSouza by TKO at 3:33, R2
-Mark Bocek def. Doug Evans by Unanimous Decision, R3