It's the most sought after belt in MMA. Yes we're talking UFC gold. Winning it can put you on top of the world, and losing it can bury you as a fighter. Keep in mind that I'm looking at male champions only, and I do not count interim belt holders. If you missed part one (Matt Hughes) click here. Now let's get to the meat and potatoes.
In the history of the UFC there has been forty six different champions in eight weight classes. Out of the forty six warriors that have worn the belt, only five have reclaimed championship status after losing. That's pretty crazy, but even more impressive is it's only happened in three of the eight weight classes. The only reason it's three and not two is because one of the sports greatest did it in two weight classes. Of course there is the fact that the heavyweights have been around a hell of a lot longer than something like flyweight. Enough of my blabbering, it's time to have a look at those who have done it.
In part two of From Red to Blue we look at an animal called Georges St-Pierre. GSP is the second of five fighters to lose the belt, and come back to reclaim his gold. He is also the only other one to accomplish this feat at welterweight.
GSP lost in his first attempt at welterweight gold, when he lost to Matt Hughes via armbar at UFC 50. After GSP was handed his first loss, he strung together a five fight win streak. With wins against big names like Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, and of course B.J. Penn. These wins would give GSP another shot at the welterweight belt. He earned a rematch with Hughes at UFC 65. Not only was GSP looking to take the belt, but he also had a chance to avenge his loss. Georges did both, when defeated Hughes via TKO. He was on top of the welterweight world.
The fight was almost stopped in the first round. GSP landed one of his signature superman punches, along with a left hook. This sending Hughes to the canvas. Matt showed heart, and some how made it through the first. In the second round, GSP kept the pressure on. St-Pierre landed a head kick, then followed with a flurry of unanswered punches and elbows. At 1:25 of the second round, the fight was called. GSP was crowned the new welterweight champion.
GSP was set to defend his title for the first time at UFC 69. He would face Matt Serra, who was coming off a TUF 4 win. For Serra, a win over Chris Lytle earned him a title shot. Serra was a huge underdog, and shocked the MMA world when he rocked GSP. Georges was not able to recover, and the ref called a stop to the contest just 3:25 into the fight. Most still consider this to be the biggest upset in MMA history.
St-Pierre would then have to once again prove his worth inside the octagon. A win over Josh Koscheck at UFC 74, would give him a shot at the interim belt. Georges would finish his trilogy with Matt Hughes with style. GSP locked up an armbar, and forced Hughes to say uncle. The win would give him the interim title, but more importantly ensured a rematch with Serra.
The rematch was booked for UFC 83 in Montreal. Not only was this St-Pierre's back yard, it was also the first UFC event to go down in Canada. I remember watching this fight on PPV, and couldn't believe the energy in the crowd.
GSP was a true animal on this night. Fightmetric Has Serra landing only three strikes through nearly two rounds. At 4:45 of the second round the fight was stopped. GSP was landing vicious knees to Serra's body, and the ref had seen enough.
Georges reclaimed the title, and was now the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. GSP would never lose his belt inside the octagon again. St-pierre went on to defend the title an incredible nine consecutive times. His last fight was a controversial decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Since then GSP has decided to take a leave from the sport, and vacated the title. Will he step foot in the octagon again? I have no clue, at this point I'm not sure Georges knows. One thing I do know is that GSP is one of the greatest the sport has seen.
In part three of From Red to Blue, we jump from welterweight to light heavyweight. We take a look at one of the true pioneers of the sport. Stay tuned!