So what was the change? That's simple. The opponent.
Fact is, everyone on TUF 4 knew how good Georges "Rush" St. Pierre was. After all, he'd served as a coach on the show. Along with this, St. Pierre's elite athleticism, strength, and skills were witnessed first-hand by the contestants as TUF 4 went on. However, Matt Hughes's stranglehold on the welterweight belt had no doubt seeped into their thinking.
In other words, all along the welterweights were probably thinking that they were competing for a shot at Hughes.
Then he was beaten.
Actually, beaten sounds rather relatively mild in comparison to what happened. In reality, Matt Hughes was dominated by Georges St. Pierre in a performance that has many believing that the, Age of St. Pierre, has begun.
On the other hand, there's Matt Serra. After defeating Chris Lytle in a close decision at the TUF 4 finale, Serra was slated to fight St. Pierre at UFC 67. Problem was, St. Pierre wasn't ready.
A knee injury he sustained in training forced the fight to be pushed back to UFC 69: Shootout, which is scheduled to take place on April 7, 2007.
So how will the humorous, hard-working personality from Long Island, New York by the name of Matt "The Terror" Serra do against the UFC's best welterweight fighter?
Read on to find out.
Georges St. Pierre is probably the most explosive athlete in all of mixed martial arts in his weight class. Along with this, he possesses fast reflexes and great strength. However, he also consistently demonstrates excellent cardio.
Further, St. Pierre is a better than average MMA technical striker; further, he has knockout power in his hands and legs ( as he showed against Hughes ). Beyond that, St. Pierre has outstanding takedowns and takedown defense and is very difficult to submit ( Hughes is the only one to ever submit him; or beat him for that matter ).
In terms of submission skills of his own, St. Pierre is probably average. Still, this has never really seemed to matter much, to be frank. He's a striking and ground and pound nightmare.
Serra is a great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner ( Renzo Gracie's best student, in fact ). Along with this, he has elite submissions and submission defense. Further, Serra has always displayed good cardio, excellent takedowns, and takedown defense.
He's even a better than average striker. However, Serra does seem to lack striking power ( he's never KO'd anyone ) and certainly seems to lack reach.
Let's put it this way; when compared to St. Pierre on his feet, he falls short ( as do most fighters ).
Unfortunately, St. Pierre is a tough one to take down. So that's where the first battle will be played out. If St. Pierre is able to keep the fight on their feet for the majority, it will almost certainly go his way either by decision or (T)KO.
Which leads us to the interesting part.
Serra probably needs the fight to go to the ground. That said, being below St. Pierre on the ground is usually nothing to be thrilled about. There have been plenty of very good jiu-jitsu artists that have gotten the hell beat out of them in such a position.
Jason Miller, for example.
Yes, there's always the chance that Serra could pull off a submission from his guard. Still, it's obviously dangerous for him to be on his back for any significant length of time.
Therefore, Serra's best case scenario is to be on top on the ground. Easier said then done. Still, that's exactly what he's training to do right now. If Serra ends up on top, St. Pierre might just be in trouble.
Again, easier said then done.
So, in the spirit of predictions, one would have to think that St. Pierre has a pretty big edge in this one because there are simply far more ways for him to win, and a greater likelihood that the fight will go the places he feels most comfortable.
That said, if Randy "The Natural" Couture can come back at 43 and win the UFC Heavyweight Championship, a great submission fighter like Matt Serra can certainly come up with a submission and beat Georges St. Pierre.
Well, maybe, anyway.
Either way, that's probably what Serra's going to have to do to win.
Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.
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