HOUSTON, TEX. – Upsets are a natural part of any sport and they seem to happen all the time, but they never fail to shock when they actually happen. On Saturday night in Houston, Texas former 155-pound competitor, Matt “The Terror” Serra pulled off one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history winning the UFC welterweight championship when he defeated former champion, Georges “Rush” St. Pierre by TKO in the first round.
Just about everyone said that Serra had little to no shot in this fight with St. Pierre, but that never phased the New York native as he came out strong in the opening of the fight and showed that he would not back down in the face of the #1 welterweight fighter in the world. Serra looked to work his stand-up against the champion early on. St. Pierre in turn threw multiple high kicks against his much shorter opponent, but landed few.
Serra bobbed and weaved showing his much improved boxing. After a few exchanges, the winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 4 landed a shot that staggered St. Pierre, sending him backwards against the cage. As the crowd in the Toyota Center stood up in disbelief, Serra shot in and unloaded punch after punch as he refused to let St. Pierre have any time to recover.
Eventually, Serra put St. Pierre on his back where he continued to reign down punches and elbows until referee Big John McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight. With the stoppage, Matt Serra becomes the new UFC welterweight champion by defeating a fighter widely seen as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport in Georges St. Pierre. (On an interesting side note, former champion Matt Hughes was seen in the crowd, smiling and cheering Serra’s win, most likely a happy man that he won’t have to face St. Pierre again right away.)
The other big fight on the card for UFC 69 was another welterweight showdown between former Ultimate Fighter housemates, Diego Sanchez and Josh Koscheck. The heat between the two fighters reached a fevered pitch at the weigh-ins where Sanchez pushed Koscheck and the two fighters had to be separated. Unfortunately, the heat at the weigh-ins was much more exciting than the actual fight that took place in Houston on Saturday night.
Diego Sanchez looked painfully tentative through all three rounds. When he did engage, it was Koscheck who got the better of the stand up. The only ground action in this fight took place towards the end of the first round when Koscheck slammed Sanchez to the ground, only to be reversed, but nothing much happened before the round ended.
Koshceck peppered Sanchez with punches in each of the three rounds, but neither fighter showed much killer instinct to finish the bout. At the end of the day, it was Koscheck who pulled out the unanimous decision victory, avenging his loss to Sanchez on the Ultimate Fighter show and giving the New Mexico fighter the first loss of his career.
Yushin Okami showed why he belongs among the upper echelon of fighters in the middleweight division after a dominant victory over Mike Swick. Outside of a flurry of punches in the second round, Swick never really got going in the fight, being put on his back multiple times. Okami controlled Swick from the clinch and landed takedown after takedown in each round.
In the third round, Okami worked to the mount position where he started to land shots on a seemingly defenseless Swick. While Swick was eventually able to reverse the position and finish the fight in Okami’s guard, it was the Japanese fighter’s night to shine. Okami won a unanimous decision over Swick, which puts him very close to title contention.
Roger Huerta picked up another win in UFC competition, but not without a fight from a very game Leonard Garcia in an absolute war that stole the show (until Matt Serra literally stole the show). Huerta started out the fight in control, putting Garcia on his back and working a feverish ground and pound attack. Huerta pounded down on his opponent throughout the round, but Garcia persevered and even smiled back as if to say he was still in the fight.
The second round was simply a slugfest between two great lightweight fighters as both Huerta and Garcia threw punch after punch hoping to put the other down. No one went down until Huerta took the fight there where he continued to unleash strikes. Garcia, who has recently been training with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, did try to slip in a submission here and there, but Huerta was able to avoid any danger and the fight moved on to a third round.
Much of the same followed in the third round where both fighters unleashed strikes on each other until Huerta took the fight back to the ground. Showing tremendous heart and an iron chin, Garcia managed to reverse the position and took Huerta’s back. He almost sunk in a rear naked choke to finish the fight, but was reversed and again found himself on the short end of Huerta’s attacks. The fight ended with both men exhausted after one of the most entertaining fights in UFC history. Roger Huerta won the fight with a unanimous decision over Leonard Garcia.
Former Ultimate Fighter winner, Kendall Grove, continued his winning ways after decimating a seemingly overmatched Alan Belchar in their fight at UFC 69. Belchar had no answer for Grove’s height and reach advantage and just looked lost when he engaged his opponent during the bout. Grove grabbed Belchar in a Muay Thai clinch multiple times during the bout, handing out knee strikes and punches. Belchar crumbled under the pressure when Grove pounced on him on the ground and applied a choke that put an end to his night and gave Kendall Grove another victory in the Octagon.
In preliminary action, Heath Herring scored a hard-earned unanimous decision victory over returning Brad Imes. Brazilian Thales Leites also scored a unanimous decision with a dominating win over New Yorker Pete Sell. Marcus Davis reversed Pete Spratt’s fortunes when he locked on a fight-ending ankle lock, cutting short the Texan’s impressive performance. In the evening’s first bout, Luke Cummo knocked out Josh Haynes.
UFC 69 was a very good event overall with some exciting fights. The evening was, of course, highlighted by Matt Serra’s victory over Georges St. Pierre, making him the new UFC welterweight champion of the world. Serra (no shock here) earns MMAWeekly’s Fighter of the Night after dispatching of the former champion. Roger Huerta and Leonard Garcia definitely earned Fight of the Night after a war in the Octagon that will surely land in Fight of the Year candidacy when its all said and done.
UFC 69 Full Results
-Matt Serra def. Georges St. Pierre by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 3:25 of Round 1
-Josh Koscheck def. Diego Sanchez by Unanimous Decision
-Roger Huerta def. Leonard Garcia by Unanimous Decision
-Yushin Okami def. Mike Swick by Unanimous Decision
-Kendall Grove def. Alan Belcher by Darce choke at 4:42 of Round 2
-Heath Herring def. Brad Imes by Unanimous Decision
-Thales Leites def. Pete Sell by Unanimous Decision
-Marcus Davis def. Pete Spratt by submission (ankle lock) at 2:57 of Round 2
-Luke Cummo def. Josh Haynes by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 2:45 of Round 2