The following article was published ten years ago this week, featuring MMATorch columnist Randy Rowles reaction to UFC 65 including a historically significant George St. Pierre Welterweight Title victory…
UFC 65 saw the crowning of a new UFC Welterweight Champion, as Georges St. Pierre took the title in dominating fashion from Matt Hughes, who himself had dominated the welterweight division for many years.
Since Hughes had already defeated St. Pierre once, this was a fitting result, as there aren’t a whole lot of credible contenders left in the UFC welterweight division after St. Pierre. Now a rubber match between these two can be booked in mid-2007, which will give the UFC time to build up a couple of new contenders in the weight class. In the meantime, there is Matt Serra. Serra won The Ultimate Fighter 4 and has earned himself a welterweight title match. Considering how easily St. Pierre dismantled Hughes, and how lackluster Serra looked in his TUF 4 championship match against Chris Lytle, it appears Serra would be clearly out of his league in a match against St. Pierre.
Regardless, Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra should be announced for the February Super Bowl weekend PPV. Assuming he gets past Serra, Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes III could be hitting theatres by summer. After that, either Nick Diaz, Joe Riggs, Diego Sanchez, Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck will have likely positioned themselves for a title match. Joe Riggs and Diego Sanchez will square off against each other at the next Ultimate Fight Night on Spike TV. If St. Pierre vs. Hughes III doesn’t happen, the winner of Riggs vs. Sanchez should be next in line to face St. Pierre.
The UFC Heavyweight Championship was also on the line at UFC 65. Tim Sylvia successfully defended his title for the second time. Sylvia won a unanimous decision over Jeff Monson after five rounds. Both fighters fought safely and tired early. The crowd was none too happy with this fight, and let the combatants know with unrelenting boos. In a shorter, but more decisive heavyweight match, Brandon Vera got his third UFC victory in 2006, by taking out UFC veteran Frank Mir in one minute by TKO. Mir actually holds a victory over Sylvia, and as Sylvia pointed out in his post-fight interview, he was hoping to be able to settle some old business with Mir.
It doesn’t appear we’re going to be seeing Mir in the UFC again anytime soon, though, so instead Sylvia will have to meet the impressive Vera. Sylvia acknowledged this in his post-fight interview, after which Sylvia and Vera shook hands in the center of the octagon. Vera will get the next heavyweight title shot, and deservedly so. Vera has been impressive thus far in the UFC and could become a huge star with a championship run. In the night’s other heavyweight matches, Antoni Hardonk and Jake O’Brien captured victories in their respective bouts. A few more wins and either of these fighters could find themselves in Vera’s position.
Chuck Liddell will be defending his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Tito Ortiz at UFC 66. UFC 65 featured two light heavyweight matches. James Irvin and Drew McFedries both used their fists to secure their respective victories. Wilson Gouveia had originally been booked to face Alessio Sakara, but had to be pulled from the card due to injury. McFedries, a Miletich fighter, stepped in as a late replacement and got an impressive victory over the heavily-favored Sakara. A Drew McFedries vs. Wilson Gouveia match would seem to be a logical extension to the circumstances here. James Irvin has created some exciting moments in the UFC and seems ready to be put to the test. Irvin could be matched up against Jason Lambert or Rashad Evans to see what he’s really made of.
In the night’s only lightweight match, Joe Stevenson got back to his winning ways with a quick victory over a tough opponent in Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Stevenson has to already be considered one of the top contenders in the division. A title match against Sean Sherk would not be unreasonable for Stevenson. More likely, though, he’ll be asked to get a few more victories in the division before being put to the ultimate test. Joe Stevenson vs. Hermes Franca would make for an excellent match-up. Stevenson could also be pitted against the likes of Din Thomas, Mark Hominick, Spencer Fisher or Melvin Guillard. Any combination of these fighters could easily be used to determine a number one contender for Sherk’s title. The endless possibilities in the UFC lightweight division is what makes it one of the most exciting weight classes in MMA.
UFC 65 ended up being a solid, but not spectacular, event that created a scary new champion in Georges St. Pierre. After his last two matches, Tim Sylvia has become a snoozer of a champion. This could change as quickly as St. Pierre took out Hughes, though, when Sylvia has to deal with the explosive Brandon Vera, who is hungry for the spotlight. Ironically enough, one of the most exciting fighters at UFC 65 was not even originally scheduled for the card. Drew McFedries took full advantage of his opportunity and made an immediate impact in the UFC.
Jeff Monson had been hoping that he would have been able to make the most impact at UFC 65, but unfortunately for him, that was not to be. Monson will be moving back down the card, and will have to go on quite a tear to get noticed again for a title match. Monson seems the kind of fighter that would be better suited for PRIDE. However boring his fight with Sylvia may have been, Monson’s name now means more than it did before this fight. A Jeff Monson vs. Cheick Kongo match might have some folks shuttering with fear of a boring match, but it definitely would make for an interesting match-up, and one helluva visual in the pre-fight staredown.
Undoubtedly, 2007 will see many interesting UFC match-ups, but before the new year comes, the UFC still has a couple of events to promote in 2006. On December 13, the Ultimate Fight Night 7 will air live on Spike TV from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CA. And then on December 30, the long-awaited Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz rematch will finally happen at UFC 66. The UFC is definitely looking to close 2006 out with some fireworks, as this card will also feature Forrest Griffin vs. Keith Jardine, Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcio Cruz, Michael Bisping vs. Eric Schafer, Chris Leben vs. Jason MacDonald, Thiago Alves vs. Tony DeSouza, and Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Carmelo Marrero. This stacked card should help the UFC close the year out strong.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 10 YEARS AGO FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO: ENNIS – UFC 65 Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down: Tim Sylvia, Frank Mir, George St. Pierre, Randy Couture, and Ugly Americans