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Old 04-22-2008, 01:15 PM
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Default Opponents lining up for chance at welterweight champ St. Pierre

ESPN - Opponents lining up for chance at welterweight champ St. Pierre - MMA

By Neil Davidson
Special to ESPN.com


Updated: April 21, 2008

Order has been restored in the UFC welterweight ranks, courtesy of Georges St. Pierre's dominant second-round TKO over Matt Serra at UFC 83.

The 26-year-old from Montreal followed his game plan to perfection: St. Pierre took Serra down from the get-go, demonstrating that Serra's jiu-jitsu could not blunt the relentless attack. St. Pierre put Serra down and kept him there, muscling him on the ground. During the rare times they were on their feet, St. Pierre used straight jabs to hurt Serra and keep him at bay.

"He looked like the real Georges St. Pierre [on Saturday]," said an admiring UFC president Dana White.

St. Pierre (16-2) controlled the fight throughout, ending it with a string of knees at a turtled Serra at 4:45 of the second round before a raucous, record UFC crowd of 21,390 at the Bell Centre.

St. Pierre's coach, Firas Zahabi, thought it was a timely stoppage.

"We wanted to hurt him, we didn't want to kill him," he said. "Those knees were very, very devastating."

The 33-year-old Serra (16-5) looked vulnerable throughout the fight. UFC 83 was a million miles from UFC 69 one year ago in Houston when Serra needed just 3:25 to take the title and leave a dazed St. Pierre on his back.

"One of the things that Matt Serra said to me before the first fight is 'I've fought everybody in the UFC for the last 8-and-a-half years and you've never seen anybody beat me up,'" White recalled. "He got beat up tonight."


"Georges was great, man," said Serra, with a pair of black eyes concealed behind sunglasses at the postfight news conference.

Two fights loom large on the 170-pound landscape in the wake of UFC 83: St. Pierre-Jon Fitch and Serra-Matt Hughes. But a superfight between St. Pierre and middleweight champion Anderson Silva is also bound to garner some consideration, given St. Pierre's recent run.

"There's not a lot of guys out there for Anderson to face," White said. "It's not a bad idea for [St. Pierre] to move to 185 and give it a shot. He looked good tonight, he looked amazing. He looked like the guy that we expect him to look like. I'd call him pound-for-pound No. 2 in the world."

St. Pierre says he still has work to do at 170. And he notes he has training partners such as Nate Marquardt at 185 whom he would not take on.

"I would never fight a friend, never," St. Pierre said. "But if one day I have an opportunity and the way's clear, maybe for a title, I will do it for a superfight or something like that. But it's not my weight class."

Still, chances are the UFC will look to keep the two champions busy in other ways for awhile. Silva will probably face Yushin Okami next, with Wanderlei Silva lurking after that.

Dan Henderson has said he wants to stick around at 185, feeling he has more to show there in the wake of his loss to Silva.

As for St. Pierre, he may also find another champion nipping at his heels if lightweight titlist B.J. Penn ever gets the OK to move up to welterweight for a rematch of the fight that ended in a split decision for St. Pierre at UFC 58.

Fitch (21-2-1) has staked his claim to No. 1 contender in the 170-pound ranks with an 8-0 run in the UFC.

"No doubt about it," White said, in reference to Fitch's rising through the ranks.

Fitch has already added some spice to this potential matchup with earlier comments that St. Pierre was gun-shy in the wake of the first Serra loss. The former Purdue wrestler may be rethinking that theory after the second Serra fight, however.

"I haven't thought of [a fight with Fitch] yet but don't worry; if I have to fight him, I will take care of business," St. Pierre said on Saturday. "It's hard to be champion but it's even harder to stay there. And I know it, I learned it. Next time, my first defense is going to be a different story."

"Fitch is incredibly tough, for sure, and he's going to be a huge threat," said St. Pierre trainer Greg Jackson.

As for Hughes, the former champion has already asked to fight Serra, telling the UFC he wanted Serra if he lost to St. Pierre.

"I just think him and I have some unfinished business, so to speak, with the reality show ["The Ultimate Fighter"], Hughes said, prior to UFC 83. "That's what I've asked for and kind of hoping for."

Serra echoed, "That's something I'd definitely be up for."

The two were supposed to fight in December at UFC 79, but Serra was sidelined by two herniated discs. St. Pierre stepped in for Serra, defeating Hughes for the second time in three meetings.

"It's definitely a fight to make. It's a fight that should have happened [but] didn't happen," said White. "So I'm sure now we will make it happen."

Hughes and Serra were pitted against each other on Season 6 of "The Ultimate Fighter," a show in which sparks fly between the two coaches. Serra took pleasure in needling Hughes throughout the series.

A future contender in the welterweight division is Thiago Alves. The 24-year-old has a record of 18-4 and is coming off his fifth straight UFC win, an impressive TKO over Karo Parisyan earlier this month. That raised his overall record in the UFC to 7-2, with the losses coming early in his career to Fitch and Spencer Fisher.

WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit is a wild card in the welterweight stakes as well. Asked about Condit at the UFC 83 post-fight news conference, White would only say, "Condit fights in another organization."

But the day before, in a question-and-answer session with Web site The Fight Club, White was more enthusiastic about Condit.

"He's in the mix, man. I tell you that last fight that we had, he impressed me in that fight. That kid's the real deal. It would be interesting to put him in the mix in UFC at 170."

White also said the UFC is looking to take over some of the WEC's heavier divisions, leaving the lighter weight classes to the WEC.
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