Georges St. Pierre. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
One year removed from his original upset loss to Matt Serra, Georges St. Pierre was finally able to avenge the defeat, dominating Serra on the mat over two rounds en route to regaining his UFC welterweight title in UFC 83’s historic main event.
The raucous crowd packed inside Montreal, Quebec’s Bell Centre saw St. Pierre surprise many in the opening seconds of the fight as he opted to take Serra down. After being on the receiving end of an array of strikes, Serra eventually worked his way back to his feet before finding himself on his back once again.
Any chances for another first-round Serra knockout were spoiled in a big way. With a mouse forming under Serra’s right eye, the Long Island native came out from his corner looking to throw down at the start of the second round. St. Pierre unfortunately had a different idea.
St. Pierre scored yet another early takedown. Serra mounted a bit of offense once the fight hit the feet, connecting with a head kick. However with fatigue setting in, Serra was unable to capitalize, allowing St. Pierre to land a handful of stiff jabs before shooting in for a takedown.
Once on the mat, St. Pierre unleashed a barrage of unanswered punches and knees to the body that forced Serra to cover up and referee Yves Lavigne to ultimately stop the fight, handing St. Pierre the title that he likely should have never lost in the first place.
“My strategy going in was to make it a physical fight,” St. Pierre said in his post-fight interview with Kenny Florian, who filled in for usual color commentator Joe Rogan. “I wanted to make him tired as much as I could because I know have the conditioning. I was trying to mix it up as much as I could.”
Gracious in defeat, Serra smashed any inklings of remaining bad blood between the two with an extended post-fight embrace and kind words about his opponent’s performance. It was a series of actions that the Montreal crowd appreciated, even after heavily booing Serra throughout the course of the night.
“I want to congratulate Georges,” Serra said after the fight. “He’s phenomenal, obviously. He was the better man tonight and he’s the best in the world.”
Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin started his second new beginning following two losses to Anderson Silva with a victory. Franklin superior conditioning became a strong factor in the fight as he weathered a couple of early submission attempts before finally stopping Travis Lutter in the evening’s co-main event.
Lutter forced Franklin on his back early in the first round, a position that the Cincinnati native rarely finds himself in. Using years of grappling experience under training partner Jorge Gurgel, Franklin suffered very little damage while Lutter was on top.
Lutter, the middleweight winner of the fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, looked to have the fight in his grasps after catching Franklin in an armbar late in the first stanza but Franklin quickly twisted his way out of the hold and pounded on his opponent just before the horn sounded.
Visibly gassed to start the second round, Lutter struggled to even keep his hands up at times. Franklin took advantage by continually connecting with shots and forcing Lutter to fight standing up rather than on the mat.
After knocking Lutter down with a left-right combination, referee Steve Mazzagatti prevented Lutter from sustaining any further damage by waving off the bout. Franklin admitted after the fight that part of his strategy going in was to tire Lutter, whom Franklin claims has “notorious bad conditioning”.
“We wanted to make sure that every time he took a shot he was paying for it,” Franklin said. “Whether it was with a punch or some sort of conditioning move, we wanted to wear him down and make him pay.”
Nate Quarry’s unanimous decision over Kalib Starnes may have been the night’s most lackluster fight, but it certainly didn’t go without some entertaining towards the end of the proceedings.
In an odd choice of strategy, Starnes continually backed away from Quarry the entire fight, mounting very little offense and allowing Quarry to pick him apart on the feet, causing many to question whether Starnes, who traditionally puts on a good show, may have been ill or injured going into the fight.
Quarry expressed his frustration with less than a minute left in the fight, taunting Starnes by moving towards him with a running motion, much to the delight of the crowd. Starnes flipped Quarry the bird but still continued to retreat.
Quarry again taunted his opponent during the last few seconds and immediately after the fight, resulting in one of Quarry’s cornerman nearly sparking a post-fight ruckus. However cooler heads prevailed and Starnes ultimately congratulated Quarry on his victory.
Michael Bisping’s debut at 185 lbs was a successful one as the Englishman physically brutalized disliked opponent Charles McCarthy to the point that the American Top Team product was unable to answer the bell for the second round.
Bisping’s near flawless performance was only tested twice during the course of the fight. After busting out a combination of rapid knees and punches, McCarthy laughed at Bisping, showing that his assault against the cage did little to no damage at all.
McCarthy performed an impressive slam and almost had Bisping in an armbar at one point but his decision to stand with Bisping for the majority of the fight proved fatal during the final seconds of the opening round. Bisping dropped McCarthy with a knee to the head and then pounded away until the horn sounded to end the round.
Instead of moving back to his corner, McCarthy stayed down on the canvas, his face grimacing in agony.
The first televised fight of the night saw Mac Danzig garner his first win outside of the UFC’s popular reality show as he overcame a first round spent on his back to rally and ultimately submit Ontario native Mark Bocek with a rear naked choke late in the third round.
Bocek used his patented wrestling to control Danzig for much of the first round. However a lack of conditioning cost him in the later rounds, allowing Danzig to land strikes on the feet and on the ground and go ahead on the judge’s scorecards.
Bocek suffered a nasty cut just under his left eye during the middle of the third round. The fight was stopped at one point to check the wound but a ringside doctor ruled that Bocek would be able to continue without problem. After the restart, Danzig quickly scored a takedown, took Bocek’s back, and forced him to tap out.
Jason MacDonald may not have come out the victor in his war of words with Joe Doerksen, but he certainly had his hand raised last night, knocking out Doerksen with a series of elbows and punches in the second round of their bout.
Jason Day scored a stoppage of Alan Belcher in his UFC debut, prompting a heap of praise from UFC President Dana White at the post-fight press conference. Day fought his way back to his feet after an early Belcher takedown and then peppered his opponent with punches to the extent that Day’s attack forced referee Dan Miragliotta, who was attacked by a fan in the crowd later in the night, to stop the fight.
Demian overcame a tough first round before using his world-class jiu-jitsu skills to put rising middleweight Ed Herman to sleep with a leg-triangle choke. The win was Maia’s second in as many fights inside the UFC.
Rich Clementi used his underrated striking skills to earn a razor close split decision win over Shawn Tompkins-trained Sam Stout. American Kickboxing Academy product Cain Velasquez was also victorious in his UFC debut, earning a first-round stoppage of Australian Brad Morris.
The night’s first fight saw Jonathan Goulet come back from near defeat to score an impressive knockout of Kuniyoshi Hironaka.
Notes: The official announced attendance at the Bell Centre was 21,390, the largest crowd to ever witness a UFC event. The night’s awards went to Jonathan Goulet and Kuniyoshi Hironaka (fight of the night), Demian Maia (submission of the night), and Jason MacDonald (knockout of the night). Each fighter will receive $75,000, the highest post-fight bonus amount awarded to date. Audio of the post-fight press conference is here. Dana White confirmed that St. Pierre will face number one contender Jon Fitch in his next fight. Complete results from the event here.
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