It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) had produced what at the time, seemed like the world's most perfect mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. Young, talented and well-rounded, the French-Canadian phenom known as Georges St. Pierre was already king of the mountain at just 25 years old.
And he didn't claim his place atop the throne by beating up scrubs.
After embarrassing two of the division's top contenders in Sean Sherk and Frank Trigg, St. Pierre scored back-to-back wins over B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes, the latter of which not only avenged the only loss of his professional career, but also landed him the 170-pound strap.
In fact, the division was so short on contenders, that UFC promised the graduate of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4 -- "The Comeback" season of the combat sports reality show -- first dibs on St. Pierre's title. Following what seemed like a foregone conclusion would then lead to rematches against Penn and Hughes.
Apparently, Matt Serra didn't get the memo.
The stocky and cocky former lightweight had managed to squeak by fellow hot-and-cold veteran Chris Lytle in the Spike TV live finale and right into a welterweight title fight at UFC 69, which was seen as such a lopsided pairing, based on the champion's dominance, that odds makers handed down a rare-but-fair -1000 betting line.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Serra uncorked a massive right hand early in the opening frame and sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. A few follow-up punches sealed the deal and the sport of MMA has what to this day may be the greatest upset of all time.
What followed was nothing short of a shit-show.
Whatever questions fans -- and even promoters -- had about St. Pierre's mental state in the wake of his stunning upset, were quickly silenced when he returned to action against perennial villain Josh Koscheck in the co-main event of UFC 74, aptly titled "Respect."
"Captain Canada" wanted some back after spending six months as a Long Island punchline.
The win propelled him into a short-notice rematch against Hughes in the main event of UFC 79 in late 2007. The flinty farmboy was expected to challenge Serra for the division title; however "The Terror" blew out his back in training and was forced to withdraw.
Hughes was promptly obliterated.
It felt like old times for St. Pierre and his road to redemption was coming to an end. Serra finally got his injuries under control and agreed to put the title up for grabs at the UFC 83: "Serra vs. St. Pierre 2" pay-per-view (PPV) event in April of 2008.
And what better place to have it unfold than in Montreal.
As expected, the challenger spent little time dicking around on the feet and dumped the champion on the floor right out of the gate. "The Terror" -- a decorated grappler -- was not going to just surrender, but it was clear from the early going that size, in fact, does matter.
The second stanza brought more of the same. St. Pierre threw Serra to the ground with little-to-no resistance and punished him with relentless strikes. With less than 30 seconds to go before the horn, "Rush" would end it with brutal knees to the body.
St. Pierre returned to the top of his division and has never looked back.
Fast-forward more than five years and the champion's win streak has now reached 11 straight. But he could find himself in familiar territory against power-punching Johny Hendricks in the main event of UFC 167, which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday night (Nov. 16, 2013) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Hopefully, St. Pierre isn't afraid of ghosts.