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Bradley beats Provodnikov by decision in thriller St-Pierre manhandles Diaz at UFC 158

CARSON, California, March 17, (AP): Timothy Bradley overcame an early beating and a 12th-round knockdown to win a narrow unanimous decision over Ruslan Provodnikov on Saturday night, defending his WBO welterweight belt in dramatic style. Bradley (30-0) barely survived a thriller with the unheralded Provodnikov (22-2) in the champion’s first bout since beating Manny Pacquiao in a much-debated split decision last June. Bradley appeared to be out on his feet at times the first two rounds against his Russian challenger, even tumbling to the canvas in a fall that was ruled an accidental slip. Bradley then was forced to take a knee with 10 seconds left in the 12th round after one last barrage from Provodnikov. “I gave it everything I had,” Bradley said. “Every ounce I had, I gave.” But Bradley also punished Provodnikov with multiple shots all night, causing huge cuts and swelling on the face of the “Siberian Rocky,” who excelled in the biggest fight of his career. Judges Marty Denkin and Jerry Cantu scored the bout 114-113 for Bradley, and Raul Caiz Sr favored Bradley 115-112. The Associated Press also scored it 114-113 for Bradley on the strength of his middle-round dominance.

“He’s much more powerful than Pacquiao,” Bradley said. “He hits harder, and has shorter punches. He’s a great puncher, and I take my hat off to him.” With steam rising from his shaved head outdoors on a chilly Southern California night, Bradley guessed he might have a concussion after absorbing dozens of big shots from Provodnikov, the Freddie Roach-trained slugger who pressed the action all night. “I was the clear winner,” Provodnikov said through a translator. “I hurt him. I knocked him down. I don’t know what else to do.” Bradley’s heart and resourcefulness could redefine a fighter who got no credit for beating Pacquiao, the former pound-for-pound champion and global superstar. Pacquiao was widely thought to have won their fight, and Bradley couldn’t land a rematch with the Filipino congressman.


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UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre manhandled Nick Diaz for five rounds en route to a lopsided unanimous decision at UFC 158 on Saturday night. St-Pierre (24-2) pitched a shutout, winning 50-45 on all three judges’ cards. “Nick Diaz is a good guy,” said the champion, looking to end the bad blood between the two. Diaz, who said he was flat after a 13-month layoff, thanked St-Pierre “for giving him the credit I think I deserve.” Diaz came to the fight with a chip on his shoulder and plenty of attitude. He leaves with a loss and lumps on his face, although he showed the champion respect after the fight. As expected, St-Pierre used his wrestling to control the chirpy challenger, rag-dolling him at times and bullying him on the ground. But he also used his jab and kicks to pick apart the challenger on his feet. A calm, calculating St-Pierre won almost every battle during the fight without putting himself in harm’s way. Diaz (27-8-0 with one no contest) never quit, but showed less of his trademark trash-talking. He had his hands full.

The main event had been rife with animosity, with Diaz showing St-Pierre little respect. The normally calm champion was red-hot coming into the fight, saying he wanted to “retire” Diaz. After the bout, Diaz said his fighting days may be over. He backed off the statement after coming late to the news conference and added he wanted a rematch with St-Pierre or perhaps Carlos Condit. In another strange admission, he said he had never paid taxes. In the lead up to the fight, Diaz skipped a public workout, then put on a strange one-man show at the pre-fight news conference that managed to befuddle and antagonize St-Pierre. “I never took it personally,” the champion said after the fight. The antagonism continued right up to the fight with fellow fighter Jake Shields, a member of the Diaz entourage, complaining about St-Pierre’s hand wraps.


“I checked GSP’s glove and the wrap looked shady,” Shields, beaten by GSP at UFC 129, tweeted before the fight. UFC President Dana White said Shields had OK’d the wrap, only to have another member of Diaz’s camp complain later. The 31-year-old from Montreal was looking for his eighth straight successful title defense since winning his 170-pound championship back from Matt Serra at UFC 83 in April 2008. Only middleweight champion Anderson Silva has more title defenses (10). Diaz came out to a chorus of boos, one man against a champion backed by thousands in the stands. He calmly walked inside the cage, his four corner men urging him on. Then the lights dimmed and St-Pierre followed, bouncing up and down in his traditional karate garb to pulsating French-language rap. The crowd erupted.

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