Saturday, April 7, 2007

Canadian Georges St. Pierre loses title to Matt Serra at UFC 69: Shootout


HOUSTON (CP) - Underdog Matt (The Terror) Serra stopped Georges St. Pierre in a shocking first-round upset Saturday night, dethroning the Canadian in his first welterweight title defence at UFC 69: Shootout.

Serra (16-4) caught St. Pierre with a right to the back of the head and the Montreal mixed martial arts fighter lost his balance. When he got back up, Serra chased him down around the ring, hammering away. The champion went down and Serra kept punching until referee (Big) John McCarthy stopped it at 3:25 of the first round.

St. Pierre (13-2) had seemed in control before it all turned sour.

"Tonight I got beat by a better fighter than myself. I made a mistake," said St. Pierre, classy in defeat.

"I am very sad right now," he added.

Earlier, Josh Koscheck handed Diego (Nightmare) Sanchez his first loss, winning a unanimous decision in their welterweight grudge match at the Toyota Center.

The fight was light on action and did not live up to its billing, mainly because Koscheck (11-1) controlled Sanchez (19-1) throughout, thereby restricting the action. Sanchez seemed stumped and his offence never got unstuck.

Boos rang through the building after the final bell and drowned out Koscheck as he took the microphone for the post-fight interview. That seemed to take some of the energy out of the building as the main event began.

The mixed martial arts card marked the UFC's first foray in Texas. UFC president Dana White used the occasion to introduce former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo (Minotauro) Nogueira of Brazil as the newest addition to the UFC.

Serra, 32, earned his title shot by winning Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show, which featured veteran fighters making a comeback. And almost no one gave him much of a chance to win.

But he made the most of his moment in the spotlight.

St. Pierre, 25, won the title in November, beating longtime champion Matt Hughes.

The Canadian was welcomed by Canadian flags held high in parts of the stands as he walked to the cage.

The five-foot-10 champion, standing four inches taller than Serra, opened with a string of kicks. But the fight went south all too quick.

Sanchez, meanwhile, defeated Koscheck in Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter and their relationship has gone downhill ever since. Sanchez saw red at Friday's weigh-in, shoving Koscheck during the traditional staredown. It was his best offence of the week.

The bad blood made their rematch perhaps the most eagerly anticipated fight of the night and the crowd was up for it. Sanchez perhaps wasted that energy by walking out with a mariachi band.

Once in the ring, Sanchez was like a caged lion. But during his introduction, he calmly struck a meditation pose.

There was no touching gloves before this fight.

They stayed on their feet for almost all the first round, with Koscheck accounting for most of the few punches that landed. Koscheck, a former all-American wrestler, took Sanchez down hard near the end, although Sanchez soon worked his way back to his feet.

In the second round, there were boos as the standup game continued. Sanchez could not get past Koscheck's defence. Once again, few punches landed but Koscheck had the edge.

Earlier, Japanese middleweight Yushin Okami spoiled Mike (Quick) Swick's homecoming by handling the Houston native via unanimous decision. It was Okami's fourth straight win in the UFC and Swick's first loss in the circuit after five victories.

Swick pushed the opening pace but Okami put him down later in the first round, a position new to Swick in the UFC. The round ended with Okami looking for an armbar.

The Japanese fighter took Swick down two more times in the second but failed to do damage and the round ended with Swick swinging - and connecting - at the fence.

Swick (10-2) came out punching in the third, but Okami (21-3) took him down, mounted him and punched away for a prolonged period albeit without being able to finish him off. Swick eventually turned the tables but Okami defended from below.

Prior to a three-round decision over Montreal's David Loiseau in September. Swick had won his four previous UFC fights in a total of five minutes 10 seconds.

And middleweight Kendall Grove (10-3) looked slick in having his way with Alan Belcher (9-3) before choking him out at 4:42 of the second round. The six-foot-six Grove got Belcher's attention with kicks, knees and foot stomps in the first round and then carved open his face with elbows in the second before submitting him via D'Arce choke.

Grove, a member of Tito Ortiz's Team Punishment, celebrated in the ring by doing Ortiz's grave digger routine. Doctors. meanwhile, tended to a prone Belcher.

Roger (El Matador) Huerta won a decision over Leonard (Bad Boy) Garcia in an entertaining lightweight slugfest. "That fight deserves a rematch," Garcia said in the ring afterwards.

Heath (The Texas Crazy Horse) Herring won a decision over a game Brad Imes in an ungainly heavyweight fight. Herring needed a win after his much-hyped entry into the UFC from Pride was followed by a bad loss to Jake O'Brien in January.

In other undercard action, welterweight Luke Cummo scored a TKO when he crumpled Josh Haynes with a sledgehammer right to the head at 2:45 of the second round. Welterweight Marcus Davis survived a cut to submit Pete Spratt via a nasty ankle lock at 2:57 of the second round.

Brazilian middleweight Thales Leites gave Pete Sell a comprehensive three-round beating.


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