Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle
"It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible." -Henry Ward Beecher
And just like that, it was all over.
Georges St. Pierre was riding high as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight kingpin. After beating the brakes off Matt Hughes to claim the division's 170-pound strap, "Rush" sauntered into his UFC 69 title defense as a massive -1200 favorite against former lightweight and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) "Comeback" winner Matt Serra.
But they don't call him "The Terror" for nothing.
The once-beaten Canadian was bombed by the stocky slugger and put out to pasture in the very first round, ending what many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans (and pundits) predicted would be a long and fruitful reign as welterweight champion.
St. Pierre, still wet behind the ears at just 26 years of age, would rebound and take back his title by striking down any and all challengers with great vengeance and furious anger ... or would he? No one really knew, including those closest to the ex-champ, how the young phenom would respond to such a devastating defeat.
It was up to Josh Koscheck to find out.
At the time, "Kos" was rocketing up the ranks of 170, winning five straight fights while ending the perfect record of former TUF 1 nemesis Diego Sanchez, a fight that just so happened to take place at the same "Shootout" event that saw St. Pierre dethroned inside a shocked Houston arena.
There would never be a better time -- or better opportunity -- to advance into a welterweight title fight.
After all, Koscheck had terrific wrestling and a powerful right hand. If he could keep himself from being taken down -- which at that time seemed plausible -- he could avoid getting smothered into the loss column. And maybe, just maybe, he could follow Serra's lead and put his foe on the floor.
It was time to find out what St. Pierre was made of in the co-main event of UFC 74: "Respect" on August 25, 2007 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A touch of gloves opens round one and Koscheck is throwing heavy leather. St. Pierre is having none of it and immediately shoots for the takedown. He secures it and begins to work from guard just a foot from the fence. 90 seconds in and we get our first "riddum" joke from cageside commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
With just over a minute left in the opening frame, Koscheck explodes to his feet and lands a takedown of his own. St. Pierre is warned for grabbing the fence and struggles to find an escape. Koscheck doing little damage from top but maintains control until the horn.
Greg Jackson is seen strategizing with St. Pierre in between rounds.
Back into battle and "Rush" uncorks a Superman-punch followed by a leg kick, then transitions to a takedown, which he obtains with relative ease. The ex-champ works for a Kimura but can't secure it. He does, however, establish side control.
Koscheck jerks himself free and scrambles back to full, then half guard.
St. Pierre again attacks the arm and intermittently strikes the ribs. Referee John McCarthy warns him for downward elbows. He adjusts and resumes punching as seconds tick away. Koscheck spends the better part of round two on his back, absorbing punishment.
"That's a humiliating round for him," Rogan explains. "Taken down and controlled by a man he said wouldn't be able to take him down."
The final frame gets underway and for the first two minutes, St. Pierre will try to determine who has the better stand-up. Goldberg wonders aloud if the ever-improving Koscheck can "neutrify" his opponent's offense, which is then quickly recorded into the Goldy-ism hall-of-fame.
GSP starts to get the better of the exchanges, using a diverse offense while Koscheck seems content to just wing punches in hopes of a one-hitter quitter. He can't land it and shoots for the takedown with just two minutes to go, but gets stuffed and reversed, ending up on his back.
He would be kept there for the remainder of the fight and eventually lose a unanimous decision.
The victory would mark the first of 10 straight for the resurgent champion, who reclaimed his belt and avenged his loss against Serra at UFC 83 in early 2008. He now looks to defend it against former Strikeforce 170-pound titleholder Nick Diaz at the UFC 158 pay-per-view (PPV) event this Saturday night (March 16, 2013) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
For a historical look at Diaz's rise to MMA super-stardom, click here.