April 7, 2007 - 9:00 pm
Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White calls Georges St. Pierre the greatest mixed martial artist in the world, and there’s a lot to back up that opinion.
St. Pierre dominated Matt Hughes — probably the UFC’s most dominant champion at the time — to win the welterweight title in November.
In his four bouts before beating Hughes, St. Pierre defeated a Murderer’s Row of MMA opponents in Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn.
He’s an exceptional grappler, a powerful striker and a dangerous submissions expert.
“The scary thing about GSP is that he’s still getting better,” White said.
Oddsmakers have made St. Pierre an overwhelming minus-1100 favorite to defeat Matt Serra (plus-750) tonight at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The bout is occurring, critics say, only because Serra won the right contractually by capturing the welterweight title on the fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series .
But Serra is crazy enough to think he can win the fight, the main event of a pay-per-view card that begins at 7 p.m.
So, too, is St. Pierre.
“Matt Serra is an extremely dangerous opponent,” St. Pierre said. “If people don’t give him a chance, it’s just that they don’t realize how good he really is.”
Serra is a jiu-jitsu expert but hates the idea of being pigeonholed as a one-dimensional fighter.
Although his best chance to win might be if St. Pierre takes the fight to the ground, Serra did manage to defeat Chris Lytle in the finale of the reality series. Lytle is a professional boxer with a 13-1-1 record, as well as a mixed martial artist.
“I don’t need people to tell me I can win because I know I can,” Serra said. “I know that better than anyone. I have a great amount of respect for Georges. When you talk about a true mixed martial artist, you’re talking about someone like Georges.
“But this sport is one of those sports where anybody can be beaten. And I really believe I’m at a point in my career and in my game where I can do this.”
The result of tonight’s card will have a significant impact upon the talent-laden welterweight division.
The primary undercard bout pits unbeaten Diego Sanchez, one of the game’s fastest-rising stars, against once-beaten Josh Koscheck.
Koscheck’s only loss came during the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” when Koscheck, the 2001 NCAA wrestling champion at 174 pounds, was just learning MMA.
Koscheck has improved greatly since then, but Sanchez said so has he.
“I’ve fought pretty much top-10 guys every time and I always fight whoever they put in front of me,” Sanchez said.
Also competing on the card is lightweight Roger Huerta, who will put his 18-1-1 MMA record on the line against submissions expert Leonard Garcia.