On the night of UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia, as mixed martial arts (MMA) fans were reeling in shock from Holly Holm's incredible victory over the seemingly indomitable Ronda Rousey, at least one man could surely relate.
Canadian fighter Georges St-Pierre, widely considered the best 170-pounder of all-time, once walked a mile in the shoes of Rousey. "Rush" retired a two-time UFC champion with a ridiculous 25-2 record, avenging both losses on his record, and yet he may be more remembered for being on the wrong end of the biggest upset in UFC history.
It was April 7, 2007, and GSP was a 25-year-old superstar coming off a decisive destruction of the former 170-pound kingpin, Matt Hughes. He was basically filling a contractual obligation in facing what amounted to a Reality TV joke, a largely unearned title shot for the unheralded Matt Serra, winner of The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback.
No serious MMA follower of any consequence gave Serra a chance in the fight. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner under the Gracie clan, Serra was a 9-4 fighter who had squeaked by the TUF Finale with a split decision win, and owned no knockouts on his record.
In fact, up until that fateful night Serra was the butt of a UFC highlight joke involving journeyman Shonie Carter. At UFC 31, Serra spent most of 15 minutes dominating Carter in a one-sided beatdown of little consequence. And then with nine seconds remaining, Carter landed a spinning backfist that put Serra out.
Fast forward six years and Serra's knockout of St-Pierre was the most improbable, mind-blowing, crazy upset in the history of MMA. That is, until UFC 193 in Melbourne.
The Canadian Press caught up with GSP recently and asked him to reflect on the fight and the comparisons made to his own loss. "Rush" was surprisingly upbeat on behalf of a dejected Rousey.
"It's unfortunate for Ronda but I'm happy for Holly in the same time," St-Pierre, who like Holm had coach Greg Jackson in his corner, said in an interview Thursday.
"In this game, no one's invincible," he added. "Sometimes you zig when you should zag."
St-Pierre lost his confidence along with his championship belt, but eventually remade both his game and the people around him.
"I needed to beat a lot of my own demons, a lot of my fear," he said. "And I came back stronger.
"So in a way for Ronda it's sad that she lost, but maybe it could be the best thing that ever happened to her, in that she will come back much stronger."
Should Rousey decide to return it would appear she won't have to wait long to get a crack at her old belt. UFC president Dana White said an immediate rematch "makes sense" and Holm has expressed interest as well.
Unlike Serra, however, Holm is no "comeback" fighter from a reality TV show. Despite being a massive underdog headed into the fight, she remains undefeated in MMA and may even be a favorite headed into a rematch.
If and when this fight happens, Rousey had better be prepared for a war this time.