Georges St-Pierre’s 11th fight, and 4th in the UFC, was against a fighter who took on Matt Hughes twice (losing both by submission). A cut above the opponents St-Pierre usually faced, Frank Trigg was a wrestling monster in the welterweight division. His record of 12-3 at the time of this fight was well deserved. He had called St-Pierre a B-level fighter, which added to the drama at the time leading up to the bout at UFC 54.
The fight lasted just over four minutes as GSP dominated Trigg on the ground in textbook St-Pierre fashion. Trigg used his strength to turn over and stand, but each time St-Pierre took his back. Finally, St-Pierre used Trigg’s back to his advantage applying a rear naked choke to submit the 33 year old.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Frank Trigg video:
Georges St-Pierre (10-1-0) vs. Sean Sherk (UFC 56 Full Force, Nov. 19, 2005):
If fans of St-Pierre were worried about Frank Trigg, then they would’ve been terrified of GSP’s 12th opponent. Sean Sherk through his career in MMA has mowed through opponents like a weed wacker does grass, displaying an incredible 31-1-1 record at the time of this fight. Only losing to Matt Hughes in a UFC title fight back in April of 2003, and drawing to Kiuma Kunioku back in July of 2001, Sherk would be a hard man to beat for GSP. Sherk was later to be involved in a suspension for failing a drug test (he tested positive for Nandrolone, a steroid, in July 2007), which would’ve put this fight into question if St-Pierre would’ve lost.
The fight lasted into the second round with GSP winning by TKO. St-Pierre was never in trouble, controlling the fight from beginning to end. While standing, St-Pierre used his five-inch reach advantage to out-hit Sherk and used his quicker speed to take down Sherk every time he attempted the move. St-Pierre also nullified Sherk’s renowned speed and take-down ability with great defense. St-Pierre softened Sherk up with numerous combinations, high leg kicks and a dead-on spinning back kick. He finished Sherk with a double leg take down followed by an extreme amount of elbows and fists.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Sean Sherk video:
Georges St-Pierre (11-1-0) vs. BJ Penn (UFC 58 USA vs. Canada, Mar. 4, 2006):
GSP’s next opponent was the guy who took down Matt Hughes to strip the champion of his belt (UFC 46, back in January 31, 2004). BJ Penn then lost the belt when he signed a contract with Japanese FEG K1 promotions, leaving the welterweight division without a champion.
The fight between St-Pierre and Matt Hughes (UFC 50, October 22, 2004), in which Hughes won with an arm bar submission, giving GSP his first professional loss, was fought, if the reader will recall, to fill that vacancy. This fight between St-Pierre and Penn would determine who would face Hughes in his next title defense.
BJ Penn is one of the elite fighters in the lightweight and welterweight divisions (holding UFC belts in both divisions, the lightweight belt would be won in the future at UFC 80) and other than Hughes, would be the toughest opponent GSP would face up to this point in his career. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black-belt, BJ Penn fights effectively standing or on the ground and is an expert in submission holds. This fight marked Penn’s return to the UFC from Japan.
An uneventful fight with both fighters mostly content to exchange punches and kicks while standing, GSP won it in a split decision due to the three take downs he accomplished (Penn had one). St-Pierre experienced fighting while bleeding profusely from his face for the first time in his career when Penn cut him with a missed punch that caught a fingernail and an uppercut that grazed St-Pierre’s nose to start it bleeding.
Although St-Pierre took down Penn three times, he was ineffective in his ground game. Penn was stellar while in the guard, even attempting both an omoplata and gomoplata in the final minute of the third round. But it was Penn’s lack of take downs that cost him the match.
Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn video:
Georges St-Pierre (12-1-0) vs. Matt Hughes (UFC 65 Bad Intentions, Nov. 18, 2006):
With the win against Penn, St-Pierre was to get his second title shot versus Matt Hughes at UFC 63 in September, but a groin injury side-lined the French Canadian. BJ Penn replaced St-Pierre, which set up the opportunity for Hughes to avenge his loss to Penn back in 2004 (when Penn took his title). The UFC announced that once GSP fully recovered, he would get a title shot.
Hughes beat BJ Penn at UFC 63 (a third round TKO), and GSP recovered from his groin injury, which set up a rematch between the two (Hughes won the first meeting with an arm bar submission at UFC 50).
The rematch was a lop-sided victory for St-Pierre, although not without a bit of controversy. The fighter that beat St-Pierre back in ’04 was nowhere to be seen at UFC 65. But whether it was St-Pierre’s skill and loss of awe (for Hughes) or his kicks to Hughes leg that would also clip his groin on follow through was a question that many left with after the conclusion of the bout.
Following the groin clips, Hughes fell prey to a superman punch and a left hook that floored him. The bell to end the first round saved Hughes, but St-Pierre nailed Hughes with a kick to the head early in the second round followed by a barrage of punches that Hughes couldn’t defend against. Referee Big John McCarthy stopped the fight before Hughes was seriously injured. St-Pierre was now the UFC Welterweight Champion.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Hughes 2 video:
Georges St-Pierre (13-1-0) vs. Matt Serra (UFC 69 Shootout, Apr. 7, 2007):
When Matt Serra won the Ultimate Fighter 4 welterweight division, he was guaranteed a title shot against St-Pierre. Serra, who had never fought any of the elite of the UFC to victory (he fought BJ Penn in UFC 39, but lost), was a huge underdog against GSP. Even though Serra was a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, most predicted Serra would be out-matched and out-classed by St-Pierre.
The fight ended in the first round with no groundwork by either fighter. They exchanged punches until Serra caught St-Pierre with a combination, stunning him off balance. Serra followed with two more clean shots to GSP’s head and St-Pierre fell to the ground. Serra then closed in with a barrage of punches until referee Big John McCarthy stopped the fight. One of the greatest upsets in UFC history, UFC 69 will always be a black mark on St-Pierre’s MMA career.