UFC 69 “Shootout” Breaks Houston Records

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The following is an article by Steve Sievert from the Houston Chronicle:

Serra shocks the 'unbeatable' St-Pierre to snare UFC welterweight title

No one gave Matt Serra a chance to beat Georges St-Pierre, let alone a puncher's chance.

But, Serra, in one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts history, stunned St-Pierre to win the welterweight title with a first-round TKO in the main event of UFC 69 Saturday night at Toyota Center in Houston.

The Long Island, New York jiu-jitsu black belt showed surprisingly effective striking skills and took the fight to the 11-1 favorite. Serra cracked GSP with a crisp right that buckled the champ's knees. Sensing St-Pierre was ready to go, Serra pounced and overwhelmed the champion, who simply couldn't defend the barrage of blows. Referee John McCarthy waved off the fight at 3:25 of the first round.

“Nobody's invincible in this game,” said the new champion. “Ray Longo (Serra's boxing coach) said 'if you do what you do in sparing, you'll win this fight.' For everyone who believed in me, thank you so much.”

St-Pierre, who's been hailed by UFC President Dana White and many fans as the future of the sport, had a short reign as champion. He was making his first title defense after beating Matt Hughes last November.

“What happened is my worst nightmare,” said St-Pierre. “When you lose a fight, you go through different steps, like anger, but you have to accept what happened. Matt Serra is a great fighter. I didn't take him lightly. I have no excuse. I claimed the address once, and I will claim it again.”

In the most-anticipated bout of the evening, Josh Koscheck kept undefeated Diego Sanchez off balance the entire fight, peppering him with strikes and dominating his friend-turned-rival to win a unanimous decision.

Animosity between the two fighters, cast members in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, spilled over during Friday's weigh-in. Sanchez shoved Koscheck, as the two were staring down each other. However, it was Koscheck who went on the offensive during the actual fight.

“I've been begging Dana for about two years for this (fight),” said Koscheck. “I put a game plan together – stand up the whole time – and it went perfect. He played right into my game plan.”

Koscheck (11-1) showed vastly improved stand-up skills in tagging Sanchez and turned what was expected to be an evenly matched skirmish into a largely one-sided affair.

Clear Lake, Texas native Mike Swick didn't fair well in his homecoming. He went chin to chin with Yushin Okami for the better part of the first two rounds of the middleweight bout, but Okami took the fight to the ground in the third and brutalized Swick with more than two minutes of ground-and-pound striking. That was enough to cement the victory for the tough Japanese fighter.

Okami moved to 21-3 overall (4-0 in the UFC) and is now squarely in the mix among top contenders in the 185-pound division.

“He was a lot stronger than I thought,” said Swick, who lost for the first time in six UFC bouts.

The hits keep coming for the top dog in mixed martial arts. UFC 69 drew a crowd of 15,269 and generated a gate of $2.8 million – largest in Toyota Center history.

UFC 69 | April 8, 2007
Houston, Texas

Welterweight Championship | Matt Serra def. Georges St-Pierre, TKO (strikes) at 3:25 of round 1

WW | Josh Koscheck def. Diego Sanchez, unanimous decision, 30-27 x3

LW | Roger Huerta def. Leonard Garcia, unanimous decision, 30-27 x2, 30-29

MW | Yushin Okami def. Mike Swick, unanimous decision, 30-27 & 29-28 x2

MW | Kendall Grove def. Alan Belcher, submission (D'arce choke) at 4:42 of round 2

HW | Heath Herring def. Brad Imes, unanimous decision, 30-25, 30-27 & 29-28

MW | Thales Leites def. Pete Sell, unanimous decision, 30-26 & 30-27 x2

WW | Marcus Davis def. Pete Spratt, submission (ankle lock) at 2:57 of round 2

WW | Luke Cummo def. Josh Haynes, TKO (strike) at 2:45 of round 2

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