In another virtuoso performance, St. Pierre retained his welterweight crown with a unanimous decision over the Team Rough House stalwart in the UFC 111 "St. Pierre versus Hardy" headliner on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Scores were 50-43, 50-44 and 50-45 in St. Pierre's favor. Even so, the champion was far from satisfied.
"I wanted to finish the fight in beautiful fashion," he said. "I'm very sorry."
Hardy had no recourse for St. Pierre's patented takedowns. Grounded repeatedly, the Mohawked Brit never found an opening for his strikes. St. Pierre threatened to end the bout twice, as he hyperextended Hardy's arm with a first-round armbar and wrenched the opposite limb with a wicked fourth-round kimura. Hardy, although he grimaced in noticeable pain, refused to surrender, his toughness keeping him in the fight until the bitter end.
"The one thing that I do have above everything else I might lack in technicality, I might lack in strength, but there's no quit in me," Hardy said. "I don't give up. I don't know the meaning of 'tap.'"
Still, it was not nearly enough to dethrone the incomparable St. Pierre. He took down Hardy nine times in the five-round fight and passed his guard at will, setting up ground-and-pound and submission attempts. Hardy spent precious little time upright, and that left his primary weapons, his hands and feet, in their holsters.
"I had a strategy for the fight," St. Pierre said. "I wanted to avoid the fight where my opponent was the strongest and fight him where he was weakest -- on the ground."
The defeat halted Hardy's four-fight winning streak inside the Octagon but figures to earn the former two-division Cage Warriors champion considerable respect. St. Pierre, meanwhile, has won 13 of his past 14 fights and has taken an astonishing 24 consecutive rounds from his opponents.
"All I can say is it was an honor to fight him," Hardy said. "I can see now why he's champion. He's just a very, very strong athlete, very technically skilled. I wasn't quite there tonight."
Carwin mauls Mir
Shane Carwin still has never seen the second round.
The monstrous Coloradan smashed through Frank Mir in 3 minutes, 48 seconds to win the UFC interim heavyweight championship in the co-main event. Carwin, unbeaten as a professional, has finished all 12 of his opponents inside one round. His latest conquest puts him in position to challenge recovering UFC heavyweight king Brock Lesnar in the summer.
"That fight's been canceled two times," Carwin said. "It's destiny that we meet."
Carwin wiped out Mir in the clinch, where he landed a series of left uppercuts against the cage that crumpled the former champion in his tracks. Mir fought valiantly to survive, but Carwin proved relentless in his pursuit of victory. He hammered Mir with heavy punches from behind until he lay prone and motionless, forcing the referee to intervene.
"It's a lifetime of work right here," Carwin said. "I'm speechless. I don't know what to say."
'Batman' submits Camoes
In a battle between Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, Kurt Pellegrino survived an early scare to submit Fabricio Camoes with a rear-naked choke. The end came 4 minutes, 20 seconds into Round 2, as Pellegrino snapped the San Diego-based Brazilian's eight-fight unbeaten streak.
Camoes attached himself to Pellegrino's back in the first round and threatened him with a standing choke. His efforts went unrewarded, and the resourceful Point Pleasant, N.J., native freed himself by dropping Camoes on his head. From that point forward, Camoes was a different fighter.
"He's a tough guy," Pellegrino said. "I knew he was a good jiu-jitsu artist. I just weathered the storm."
Pellegrino scored with a takedown in the second round, mounted Camoes briefly and then dropped some elbows in half guard. The lightweights moved to a standing position, where Pellegrino attacked with knees to the head before he seized back control in a scramble. "Batman" cinched the choke for the tapout soon after, as Camoes left his neck unprotected.
Fitch routs Saunders
Former welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch dominated Ben Saunders en route to a unanimous decision, as the American Kickboxing Academy thoroughbred won for the 20th time in 21 fights. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Fitch.
Saunders, a late replacement for American Top Team stablemate Thiago Alves, had no answer for Fitch, who battered him with a steady diet of takedowns and ground-and-pound. The punishment intensified late in Round 3, as Fitch opened a cut on the "Ultimate Fighter" Season 6 quarterfinalist's face with a series of heavy elbows in half guard.
Fitch, 32, neutralized and short-circuited Saunders in the clinch and kept him on his back for a majority of their 15-minute encounter. His past six victories have come by decision.
Miller edges Bocek
AMA Fight Club standout Jim Miller eked out a unanimous decision against Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Mark Bocek in a competitive and strategic lightweight tilt. Scores were 29-28 across the board for Miller, who posted his fourth consecutive victory.
Bocek took down Miller in all three rounds and threatened to submit the gritty Sparta, N.J., native in the second. Bocek mounted his foe and ultimately transitioned to his back, where he trapped Miller's right arm in a body triangle. Miller, who swept and nearly finished Bocek with a kimura in the first, survived the attack and forced the fight to a decisive third round.
Miller sprawled effectively in Round 3, as Bocek began to feel the effects of fatigue. Fighting before a partisan crowd, Miller punctuated a tight round in the closing moments, as he took the American Top Team veteran's back during a scramble in the final five seconds of the match.
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com.