10 years ago today, Georges St. Pierre started his streak of welterweight title dominance at UFC 83. St. Pierre was upset by Matt Serra at UFC 69 in April 2007, in St. Pierre’s initial title defense. The event also happened to be the UFC’s Canadian debut. Here is Wade Keller’s report from fight night.
MATT SERRA (33, 5-6, East Meadow, N.Y., 16-4) vs. GEORGES ST. PIERRE (26, 5-10, Montreal, Quebec, 15-2) — Welterweight Championship Fight
PRE-FIGHT: Good verbal sparring. Serra said he took offense at GSP saying he wasn’t 100 percent when he lost to Serra during a radio interview. GSP people kept asking over and over and finally he said what he said. (Not sure why that’s an explanation for changing his tune from what he said the night of the fight.) Serra: “Hey man, f-me, f-you. Go drink a glass of red wine and go watch a hockey game.” I like red wine and hockey, but that’s funny. Serra told GSP, “Don’t open your mouth and we won’t have any problems.” He said he won’t let GSP make an example of him. GSP said Serra has no idea how tough he can be. He said Serra can talk all he wants, but “I’m waiting to answer back with my fist.” Goldberg said Serra has less to lose than GSP because the worst thing that can happen is leave 1-1 and the have a rubber match later. St. Pierre said he doesn’t care about the interim title belt and it means nothing to him. He wants to win the real thing. GSP has an eight inch reach advantage. Ouch. The crowd went nuts for GSP during introductions and loudly booed Serra, who smiled.
ROUND ONE: Tense mid-ring hand touch during ref instructions. GSP took Serra down right away. Florian said a lot of people thought he’d stand with Serra. GSP tried hard to move to a side mount, but Serra resisted for a minute. GSP seemed immensely strong as he just held Serra down as Serra squirmed to escape and get a favorable defensive position. GSP landed some big punches. At 3:20 GSP passed the guard into a side mount. Serra turned and gave up his back. GSP held him down and threw some punches at 4:00. Back on their feet with 30 seconds left, GSP went for a Superman punch, then took Serra down easily to end the round. He punched and kneed hard until he heard the horn sound. Great, dominant first round by GSP. Serra looked frustrated going back to his corner. Serra survived without being terribly punished, other than swelling under his right eye, but it was an intimidating domination that could really mess with his confidence.
ROUND TWO: GSP took Serra down in the opening 15 seconds again and it was more of the same. Florian said there may not be a better wrestler in MMA than GSP, despite the pedigree some have. At 1:15 Serra got back to his feet and avoided another takedown. He stood with GSP and threw a high kick, but GSP avoided it and then threw a reverse sidekick. GSP took advantage of his reach advantage. Serra ate them and didn’t hold his hands up to defense himself. GSP took him down again at 2:00. Serra gave up his back, then rolled back into full guard. Serra continued to survive, but didn’t show any signs of having a chance to win a round or win the fight. A 4:15 Serra gave up his back again. GSP threw hard knees to Serra’s ribs, then threw a barrage of pnches with 20 seconds left in the fight. The knees continued and the ref stepped in. GSP did a backflip in mid-ring as the crowd erupted in cheers.
WINNER: GSP at 4:45 of round two.
STAR RATING (**)
POST-FIGHT: Serra hugged and congratulated GSP. He tried to lift GSP on his shoulders, a secret strategy to drop him and injure him so he can win the interim title himself. Florian said GSP executed a perfect gameplan. GSP said he had the advantage in athleticism so he decided to approach him from every angle possible to keep him off guard. He thanked Serra for taking the fight in his hometown. Serra moved in for another handshake. He said he if they fight again, he will “do the sacrifice” of fighting him in New York and live up to his word. GSP told Canadian fans not to do anything to hurt him because they are friends. “He just said stuff to hype up the fight and I did as well. Thank you very much.” Goldberg said truly deep down there was never disrespect and Serra was just having fun. UFC has to be careful how often they just outright admit right after fights that the bad-blood in the pre-fight hype is all scripted, staged, and put-on. It can work against them when they have a genuine grudge match as fans stop believing anything in pre-fight hype. Serra said he wanted to work a sweep he had been practicing, but GSP got slippery. He said, “I was always ugly to begin with, don’t sweat it.” Serra said he’ll fight whoever the put in front of him, but what’s next for him is taking his wife on vacation. He said GSP is the best in the world.
RAMIFICATIONS: After that dominant performance, not sure Dana White’s going to book a rematch until Serra scores a couple redeeming wins over other top contenders. GSP is the class of his division and Serra has to prove himself all over again.