The UFC's first ever event in Canada was a rousing success from virtually every perspective. A crowd of more than 21,000 rabid fans paid in excess of 5 million U.S. dollars to see Canada's favorite fighter, Georges St. Pierre, become the youngest man to ever recapture a UFC world championship belt at the age of 26.
Those 21,000 live fans at the Bell Center were joined by patrons in more than 1,000 Canadian bars and restaurants that ordered the fight, which is believed to break a record set in 2002 when Lennox Lewis fought Mike Tyson. Let's take a look at the most significant action of a night that MMA fans will remember for a long time to come.
Georges St. Pierre Defeats Matt Serra
By TKO At 4:45 In The 2nd Round
As we discussed in our UFC 83 Preview, Matt Serra scored the most shocking upset in UFC history one year ago when he dethroned the heavily favored GSP in the first round to capture the welterweight title. Serra came into this fight promising to shock the world a second time while GSP guaranteed that his countrymen would see him holding the belt when the fight was over. GSP delivered.
When they fought the first time, GSP tasted the power in Serra's hands when he got rocked with an overhand right that was the beginning of the end.
In this fight, GSP and super trainer Greg Jackson had the perfect game plan to make sure that wasn't going to happen again. Five seconds into the fight, GSP took Serra to the ground and dominated him down there using his exceptional wrestling skills to control Serra and dish out enough ground and pound to have Serra looking battered by the end of round one.
I can't say enough about GSP's wrestling skills. I believe he has become the best "MMA wrestler" in a welterweight division that includes top-tier wrestlers like Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes and Jon Fitch. After GSP's performances against Josh and Matt, where he took them down at will and dominated them, and his ability to do the same to Serra, I'm not sure how anyone could come to a different conclusion.
Round two looked like a carbon copy of the first-round with Serra unable to mount any offense whatsoever and GSP dominating the fight on the ground. A series of four knees into Serra's ribcage region while he was on all fours on the ground led to the stoppage.
Given that there were only 15 seconds left in the round, I wouldn't have been surprised if the referee let it go given that Serra didn't appear to be in danger. However, given the sheer dominance of GSP's performance and that Matt really wasn't "defending" himself but simply satisfied to absorb the punishment and try to ride out the round, no one will argue with the stoppage, including me.
Next up for GSP will most likely be Fitch, who is undefeated in the Octagon and is a training partner of Koscheck, who GSP dominated in his first fight after the loss to Serra last year.
For Serra, I'd be shocked if his next opponent were not Matt Hughes. The UFC invested major dollars showcasing the mutual disdain these two have for one another when they were coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Season Six. They were supposed to battle last year, but a back injury forced Serra to pull out of the fight.
One last note about Serra. You have to give the guy a lot of credit. As the champion, he agreed to fight GSP in his own backyard knowing that he would be the most hated man in Canada April 19.
In pre-fight interviews, he did a masterful job of selling the fight and embraced the villain role, but also had a great sense of humor about the whole thing. Much respect should go to Matt, a point that GSP made in the post-fight interview, leading to a huge ovation for Serra from the Canadian fans in attendance.
Rich Franklin Defeats Travis Lutter
By TKO At 3:01 In The 2nd Round
In case you thought the Serra-GSP fight was the only one on the card, guess again. This event would go a long way to defining the immediate future of another division, with six middleweight bouts packed onto the card, none more important than this one.
The fight unfolded exactly as we outlined in the preview, with Franklin doing everything he could to keep the fight on the feet and stay out of Lutter's slick submission game and Lutter doing everything he could to get the fight to the ground.
In round one, Rich looked tentative and got caught in a deep arm bar that would have ended the fight for many opponents. Instead, Rich showed exceptional BJJ skills in escaping the arm bar and ultimately getting the fight back to the feet where he wanted it.
Lutter, who has a reputation for great submission skills and terrible conditioning put both on display in this fight. When the two came out in the second round it was apparent that Lutter's consistent takedown and submission attempts in the first round had taken their toll. He was gassed and Rich took full advantage, landing a head kick that appeared to hurt Lutter and followed that by putting his superior striking skills on display for the rest of the round until the stoppage.
While there are some good fights for Rich at middleweight, I can't see how the UFC will be able to market a third fight between him and champion Anderson Silva after the latter completely demolished him in their two fights. Ironically, the UFC would have benefited more from a Lutter victory, given that he actually won the first round against Silva before being submitted in round two.
Nate Quarry Defeats Kalib Starnes
Via Unanimous Decision
I would be shocked if we ever see Kalib Starnes fight in the UFC again. I've watched hundreds of UFC fights and can honestly say that I've never seen a fighter who wanted to be in the Octagon less than Kalib. There were times throughout the fight where Quarry literally had to run after him to engage. It was so bad that Quarry started to mock Starnes toward the end of the third round, mimicking someone who was running.
Instead of taking the invitation to actually fight, Starnes chose to give Nate the finger and shout obscenities toward his corner or the crowd (it was tough to tell which) at the conclusion of the fight. For his part, Nate looked great in his second fight after major back surgery and showed slick stand-up skills while trying to chase down a moving target. It was so 1-sided, that one judge scored the fight 30-24, another first for me.
Michael Bisping Defeats McCarthy
By TKO Stoppage At 5:00 In The 1st Round
Just like the Franklin-Lutter fight, there was no mystery in what these two would try to do. Bisping, the striker vs. McCarthy, the submission specialist. When the war of words ended and the fight began, McCarthy seem content in the early goings to stand with Bisping and absorb some punches and kicks only to laugh at Bisping to make the point that they weren't hurting him.
About midway through the round McCarthy scored a powerful slam, taking Bisping to the ground and locking in an arm bar. Once Bisping escaped, he completely dominated the standup, peppering McCarthy with punches and knees as Charles covered his face and head with both forearms. One of those knees apparently broke or significantly injured his arm, making him unable to come out for the second round.
This was Michael's first fight at middleweight and his stand-up looked crisp. However, I can't say that we learned a lot about how he will match up in this division from this fight. Once Charles lost the arm bar, he became little more than a punching bag for the rest of the fight. I'd love to see a fight between Bisping and fellow UFC 83 victor, Nate Quarry ... that would be a slugfest!
Mac Danzig Defeats Mark Bocek
By Submission (Rear Naked Choke) At 3:48 In The 3rd Round
Coming into the fight, Danzig was a heavy favorite, largely because people underestimated Bocek's grappling and submission skills. After this fight, they won't underestimate his heart. Bocek clearly won the first round, tenaciously working for takedowns and securing top position and dishing out some punishment.
In the second round, however, things would change. Danzig landed a huge knee right on the button and hurt Bocek badly. While he recovered, he took a barrage of punishment throughout the round.
The third round saw Bocek score another takedown and bloody Danzig a bit. However, when he got it back to the feet, Mac landed another knee that wobbled Bocek and had him gushing blood from the side of his eye. He never really rebounded and ended up getting submitted by rear-naked choke.
This was Mac's first fight at lightweight in the UFC after winning TUF Season Six where he had to fight guys at 170. This was a strong debut against a game and tough opponent. It will be interesting to see what the UFC has in store next for both of them.
In Other Action ...
- Jason MacDonald def. Joe Doerksen via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 0:56
- Jason Day def. Alan Belcher via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 3:58
- Demian Maia def. Ed Herman via submission (triangle choke) - Round 2, 2:27
- Rich Clementi def. Sam Stout via split decision (29-27, 28-29, 29-28)
- Cain Valesquez def. Brad Morris via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:10
- Jonathan Goulet def. Kuniyoshi Hironaka via TKO (strikes) - Round 2, 2:07
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