By Montique David
April 7, 2007 by all intents and purposes was a very nice night in Montreal Canada. 21,390 UFC fans packed the Bell Center to watch their newly crowned champion Georges St-Pierre defend his title for the very first time.
Across from him stood Matt Serra, the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback season which featured fighters who had been released from the UFC fighting to get back in. Matt was an enormous underdog as a 32 year old facing the talented 25 year old Champion.
The rest of the night was history. Literally.
Three minutes and thirty seconds later, the man they call “Rush” lay back staring at the lights while Serra celebrated in the distance. After sitting up his focus and approach to MMA would forever be changed.
Watching the fight against Serra was like watching a completely different fighter. Yes, MMA fighters evolve often, however there was something about this that was different. GSP was attacking. He was throwing lots of high kicks and getting inside to mix it up. His techniques were crisp yet he left slight openings, but throughout it all he looked for the finish.
Before the Serra Fight GSP had finished 10 of his 13 wins which translates into a 77% finishing rate. In the 12 fights since, GSP has finished only 3 for a finishing rate of 25%. See the difference?
Many pundits point to the fact that GSP has faced many tough to finish contenders during his time as champion. However what is also noticeable is the change in styles that Georges has adopted. The object of the game is to hit and not be hit and with that in mind, he’s began to lay back a little more and pepper away with a very devastating jab and sharp leg kicks. His pace has also slowed down considerably during his time as Champion as he’s less of an engaging fighter and more of a counter and react fighter.
Getting knocked out by Matt Serra changed everything for GSP. They say you don’t learn by winning but you learn by losing and that can’t be more evident than the seeing the difference between the fighter that stepped in the cage at UFC 67 against Serra and the fighter we last saw against Hendricks in November.
Whether you’re a fan of GSP since the change or not, there’s one thing for sure. On April 7, 2007, the “rush” in GSP was gone forever.