Rush and Iceman Prevail To End 2007 With a Bang

GSP Matt Hughes

On a night where there were basically two main events, UFC 79: Nemesis did not disappoint.

Canada’s own George ‘Rush’ St. Pierre dominated highly touted Matt Hughes to move a step closer in retaining his welterweight championship title. On the other hand, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell went toe-to-toe for three rounds with Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva before claiming victory by a unanimous decision. 

GSP came out motivated and focused to beat one of the greatest welterweights of the sport, Hughes. From the get-go, the Montreal native attacked Hughes as he took the 34-year-old down two minutes in. The first round saw GSP on top, not allowing much offense from the two-time 170-pound division champion. Then in the second, GSP, who was sporting a fleur-de-lis on his blue trunks, took Hughes down with a slick judo throw and applied the armbar. Thus, causing Hughes (43-6) to verbally submit.

“I think Georges St. Pierre has the potential to be the greatest 170-pounder ever,” said trainer Greg Jackson. “He’s just phenomenal. The scary thing is he keeps getting better.” 

GSP will now face Matt Serra to determine the title holder for real in Montreal on April 19 at the Bell Centre. Serra, who was slated to fight Hughes in defense of his gold, injured his back during practice. Therefore, St. Pierre and Hughes fought for contendership. The last time Serra and St. Pierre met, “The Terror” upsetted the 26-year-old to capture his first welterweight championship.

St. Pierre (15-2) made Canada proud, as chants of GSP could be heard throughout Mandalay Bay Events Centre, and even at the Shark Club in downtown Vancouver. Not bad for the most recognized UFC fighter north of the border, and I’m sure he’ll be pumped to be able to fight for the gold in his hometown.

Liddell Silva

The other high profile battle on the fight card ended as a bloodbath. Yes, Silva was sent to the hospital after the match for a CAT scan.

It was no surprise as the match saw both crazed-maniacs throw punch after punch at each other, yet failing to knockout the opponent. The match lasted for three rounds, with the result decided by the judges. The UFC president had three words to describe the brawl.

“A great fight,” said Dana White, who spent six years trying to make the matchup of these two former UFC and Pride champions. 

The Liddell-Silva fight basically stole the show. Even light-heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and middleweight title holder Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva were on their feets cheering the duo on. Both of these men came in having lost their last two matches, but the in-media trash talking drew up the hype for this light-heavyweight fight.

Both men had chances to finish their opponents off, as Liddell (21-5) fell twice, once due to slipping and the other punch related. Silva failed to capitalize on those opportunities, as the Brazilian usually would have taken advantage in those situation. On the other hand, a bloodied Silva was cornered against the cage a few times, yet the fast-fist-flying 38-year-old failed to end the fight and put ‘The Axe Murderer’ out.

When asked why later, Liddell said, “Because he’s a tough man.” 

That was indeed a true statement as Silva absorbed punch after punch, and threw some counter jabs of his own. It was indeed a match to remember, as the excitement and entertainment level was intense.

The other winners of the night included the undefeated Brazilian Lyoto Machida (12-0), who submitted the highly praised light-heavyweight Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (4-2) in the second round with an arm triangle hold. The worst part for the Cameroon fighter was that it was his UFC debut.

It was a night that started with bitterness, as Rich Clementi forced hated rival Melvin Guillard to tap out from a rear naked choke in the first round. ‘The Young Assassin’ tried to charge ‘No Love’, who taunted him after the match, but had to be refrained by security. 

In the end, fans went home satisfied as the UFC ended the year with entertainment and bloodshed not matched by any other sport. It was definitely not for the faint of heart.

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