Reign of Terror: Serra Stuns GSP

By Greg Savage Apr 8, 2007
HOUSTON, Texas, April 7 -- Matt Serra (Pictures) was the proverbial snowball and UFC welterweight ace Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) was supposed to be Hell if you listened to most mixed martial arts fans and pundits in the weeks leading up to their championship match.

Serra defied the odds and sent the Toyota Center crowd of more than 15,000 into a state of disbelief when he knocked out St. Pierre with a barrage of punches and elbows from the mount at 3:25 of the first round.

The 25-year-old Canadian looked stiff from the start, throwing one punch at a time while Serra moved in and out lobbing powerful strikes at his heavily favored foe.

"I got into the fight and I was kinda stiff," St. Pierre told Sherdog.com. "I trained well and everything. I just felt stiff. I didn't let my body go. It was weird. I have no excuse. I lost. I lost, period."

The beginning of the end came when Serra landed a right hook that stunned St. Pierre, left him wobbling and trying to regain his faculties. Serra seized the opportunity and refused to give his stricken opponent any time to recover.

Serra continued his assault, winging punches as St. Pierre, in survival mode, retreated. Overwhelmed, St. Pierre (13-2-0) finally fell to the canvas after Serra plowed a right hand into his chin.

"Normally when I go to fight I fight like there is no tomorrow," said St. Pierre. "I let everything go. And that fight, it was like I felt like I had some stuff to do after the fight. So I didn't fight like I had no tomorrow. It was weird. I just didn't fight well."

Serra quickly followed and straddled the fallen champ. The undersized welterweight fired away with heavy punches until referee "Big" John McCarthy came to St. Pierre's rescue.

The first technical knockout victory of Serra's career completed a journey the New Yorker embarked on when he made the trek to Las Vegas to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 4. Winning the reality show's welterweight tournament earned "The Terror" the right to fight for the strap he will now be toting back to Long Island.

Serra (9-4-0) also had some words for those who doubted him coming into the fight, namely UFC color commentator Joe Rogan and the Las Vegas-based company's president, Dana White.

"Joe, I'm really hungry, man," Serra, 32, quipped in his post-fight interview "I was wondering if you and Dana had some humble pie in the back?"

Josh Koscheck (Pictures) has not held back at all when discussing his dislike of fellow TUF alumnus Diego Sanchez (Pictures). The bad blood nearly boiled over at Friday's weigh-in when Sanchez verbally berated and shoved Koscheck. In the end it was Koscheck who got the last laugh as he orchestrated the first blemish on Sanchez' beloved perfect record.

It became apparent early in the fight that Koscheck would be content to stand and bang it out with Sanchez. Taking the center of the cage, Koscheck repeatedly found his mark with a straight right hand lead. The former NCAA champion wrestler worked his game plan perfectly, staying loose and relaxed in the pocket, throwing the right hand straight down the pipe and mixing in an occasional high kick.

The only part of the strategy that didn't work was the takedowns late in the round. That philosophy was discarded after Sanchez easily swept Koscheck and attempted to take his back as the first round came to a close.

Rounds two and three were near carbon copies of the first, with Koscheck doing damage on the feet while Sanchez struggled to find an answer.

The lack of adjustments by the Sanchez corner was a glaring problem that only became more noticeable as the fight wore on. With his best offense coming when the fight hit the mat one has to wonder why Sanchez never truly attempted to get the fight to the ground.

As the fight came to a close the crowd really let the combatants have it as they showered them mercilessly with boos and jeers. The strategic fight was not a barnburner by any stretch of the imagination and may have drawn the ire of the in-house crowd because neither man seemed in a hurry to look for a finish. Koscheck did seem worried after getting the nod with identical 30-27 scores on all three judge's cards.

"I think it was a good fight for me because it showed that I have changed as a fighter," Koscheck told Sherdog.com. "You know, it shows I'm not gonna take somebody down and lay on them and pound out a decision."

As for his relationship with Sanchez after the big win, Koscheck wasn't in a hurry to close the divide that has separated the men since their heated rivalry blossomed on the original season of TUF.

"It's ‘Dirty' Sanchez man," said the American Kickboxing Academy-trained welterweight. "There is no relationship. I see him as an enemy. I don't care, you know, I hate him."

Roger Huerta (Pictures) and Leonard Garcia gave the Houston crowd their money's worth and then some in what turned out to be one of the better fights in recent memory.

With his non-stop attacking style, Huerta was a known commodity coming into this bout while Garcia, a late replacement for Alvin Robinson, was relatively unknown in the MMA world. That all changed for Garcia after his inspiring performance. While Huerta got the nod after three action-packed rounds, the real winners were the fans.

The lightweights stood toe-to-toe on the feet and pounded each other on the ground in a 15-minute tussle that had the crowd on their feet on a number of occasions.

In the end Huerta was too much for Garcia but that didn't stop him from smiling even as the punches were landing. The scorecards all read 30-27 in Huerta's favor but both fighters will be heading home with a thicker wallet after the earning bonuses for fight of the night.

Yushin Okami (Pictures) continued his successful run in the UFC's middleweight division with a hard-fought and well-deserved unanimous decision over fellow contender Mike Swick (Pictures).

Okami clearly took rounds one and three to garner a win that could position him for a future title shot. Swick got on track a bit in the second round after scoring with flurries of punches, but he could not sustain the offensive and succumbed to the grappling prowess of a fighter who, the Houstonian confessed after the fight, was much too strong for him.

Okami did the most damage in the third stanza when he mounted Swick and unloaded a slew of unanswered blows. Swick eventually escaped as the round neared its close, but the damage was done. Okami took home the victory with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

Kendall Grove (Pictures) delivered a stellar performance in his middleweight bout against Alan Belcher (Pictures). With the first round decisively in his column, Grove finished the job in the second period with an impressive arm-triangle from the North-South position at the 4:42 mark.

Heath Herring (Pictures) sent his fellow Texans into a frenzy -- and more importantly rebounded from his disappointing UFC debut: an ugly loss at the hands of Jake O'Brien -- by dismantling of Brad Imes (Pictures). Herring dominated from the opening bell by punishing Imes with a vicious brand of ground-and-pound that earned him every round on all three judges scorecards. The win was impressive and more typical of what the UFC was looking for when they acquired him for their heavyweight division.

Brazilian prospect Thales Leites (Pictures) tallied his first UFC victory in dominating fashion, pounding away on a game but overmatched Pete Sell (Pictures).

For three rounds Leites displayed a considerable ground game, neutralizing Sell's offense while punishing him with strikes of his own. The judges rewarded him with scores of 30-27 on all three cards.

Marcus Davis had his hands full with a game Pete Spratt (Pictures) before ending the welterweight affair with a straight ankle-lock at 2:57 of the second round.

Davis won the first round with some impressive ground work but found himself in trouble early in the second when Spratt, known for his striking, began to find his range. In the end Davis persevered and got the submission when he sat back into the leg lock as Spratt tried to up-kick him after slipping to the mat.

Luke Cummo used his kickboxing skills to handle Josh Haynes (Pictures) in a welterweight showdown that kicked off the UFC 69 card. Cummo took the first frame by throwing combinations to Haynes single punches.

It was more of the same in the second. Cummo ended the scrap with a beautiful right hand that put Haynes down for good at the 2:45 mark of the round. In his confused state Haynes tried to hit a single-leg takedown on referee Kerry Hatley as he stepped in to stop the action.
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