This Day in MMA History: April 19

By Ben Duffy Apr 19, 2020

On April 19, 2008, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra met at UFC 83 in a rematch for the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title Serra had won from St. Pierre the previous April in one of the greatest championship upsets of all time. St. Pierre had been busy in the intervening year, defeating Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 and then, when Serra was injured and unable to face Matt Hughes after coaching opposite him on Season 6 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” stepped in and defeated Hughes at UFC 79 for the interim belt.

The Serra-St. Pierre rematch went quite differently than the first meeting, as St. Pierre completely blanked Serra, grounding him with relative ease and hammering him with strikes from top position for most of two rounds to earn a TKO victory. From there, St. Pierre went on to cement his position as perhaps the most accomplished mixed martial artist ever, winning nine straight title defenses before retiring, then coming back and winning the middleweight belt from Michael Bisping—who coincidentally made his middleweight debut at UFC 83—four years later. Serra would only fight three more times, going 2-1.

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More importantly for the UFC, its first-ever event in Canada smashed previous records for overall attendance and fastest sellout, moving over 21,000 tickets in an hour. It established Canada as a reliable bastion for the promotion, which remains the case today. It also established St. Pierre’s growing superstardom; while the card was heavily loaded with Canadians, none of the others were notable stars and it was plain that “Rush” was on his way to becoming the face of the promotion.

The event was also notable for playing host to one of the strangest bouts in UFC history. The middleweight main-card feature between Nate Quarry and Kalib Starnes was characterized by a near-complete refusal to engage on the part of Starnes, to the point that he literally turned his back and ran from Quarry at times. Starnes would later claim, variously, that he had injured his foot early in the fight or that he was protesting his pay, but whatever the reason, the Canadian turned in an all-timer of a miserable performance while proving that it does in fact take two to tango.

By the final round, a frustrated Quarry was reduced to stomping around the cage waving his arms—well, arm—in mockery as the crowd showered them with boos. Quarry won by 30-27, 30-26 and 30-24 scorecards—in an era when 10-8 rounds were still quite rare—then made a quick face turn by quoting “Rocky IV” to the Canadian crowd.
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