Georges St-Pierre had been advertised as the best athlete, bar none, in the UFC. And nobody, save perhaps for himself, his family and the students he teaches in Long Island, NY, thought Matt Serra had a shot at dethroning the organization's welterweight champion. Fans who'd been impressed with his charisma, his sense of humor and the oversized desire that oozed from his undersized frame on the Ultimate Fighter show, hoped that Serra would at least acquit himself well against St-Pierre, at least go the distance in UFC 69.
But it was St-Pierre, the Canadian, who didn't go the distance at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on Saturday evening. Serra caught him with a right hand on the top of his head that robbed him off his equilibrium, and then swamped him with right hands, forcing referee John McCarthy to stop the match.
The TKO stoppage came at 3:25 of the first round.
Serra (16-4) asked if announcer Joe Rogan and UFC president Dana White had any humble pie to snarf in the back. White, to be fair, did tell TSS on Thursday that Serra was not to be underestimated. He also called St-Pierre the best athlete he'd ever laid eyes on.
Serra also referred to his stunning upset as "possibly the greatest upset in UFC history." It's certainly up there.
The class shown by Serra, and the loser St-Pierre (13-2) contrasted starkly with the behavior shown by the fighters in the sub-feature match. Wrestling expert Josh Koschek showed a vastly improved standup game, and fed Diego Sanchez right hands enroute to a UD3 (3-27 x 3).
The hype leading up to this grudge match was intense, but the fighters left most of their game in Internet chat rooms. Sanchez, especially, spit the bit; he shoved Koscheck at the weigh in, nearly throwing him off the stage, and putting the fight in jeopardy. In the real fight, he showed no strategy for victory. Behind his fearsome "Manson lamps," his serial killer eyes, Sanchez brought nothing to the table. The fans in Texas booed throughout the tentative three rounder, and after the decision. They chanted "Bullshit" after the finish, making it clear that after the vitriol these two showed, this performance was a monumental letdown. Yes, it was hard to find someone to root for in this one, though Koscheck edged out Sanchez by a rhinoplastied nose.
OCTAGONAL ODDS AND ENDS
--An impeccable source is telling us that UFC will quite likely debut on HBO in August.
---The announcement by Dana White that Brazilian Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira is in the UFC fold wasn't met with deafening cheers in Texas. The heavyweight owns a win over Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, via armbar, so another showdown between the two seems imminent. Cro Cop--who must get past Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga on April 21--will likely first tangle with Randy Couture, probably at the end of this summer. But trying to discern down-the-line matchups in this sport isn't wise. Ask St-Pierre, or Tim Sylvia about this pearl of wisdom.
***Image copyright Zuffa, 2007
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV