Revenge or Redemption Awaits at UFC 83


As it turns out, "South Park" was wrong all along and Canada is actually good for something besides mediocre NBA franchises. Namely, hosting big-time MMA cards delivered by the UFC.

This time around we've got Matt Serra (Pictures) and Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) looking to establish who exactly is the world's preeminent welterweight as well as a trio of middleweight dust-ups, the official UFC baptism of an "Ultimate Fighter" champion and an undercard that'll have every fan praying for some quick finishes.

So read on and learn how Wayne Brady, Keyser Soze and the XFL fit into the big picture, and maybe I'll even get a few fights right this time. Just remember, if I ever do call a fight card perfectly, the universe will collapse upon itself.

Seriously, Stephen Hawking is backing me up on this one.

After scoring one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, Matt "The Terror" Serra was expecting the MMA world to embrace him with open arms. Instead, he got to spend the last year hearing about how Georges "Rush" St. Pierre would avenge his loss to him and restore the suddenly topsy-turvy balance of power in the welterweight division.

Not that Serra (9-4) is unaccustomed to being universally written off. Hardly a soul outside of the greater Long Island area predicted the UFC castaway turned "Ultimate Fighter" champion would end St. Pierre's seemingly unstoppable run of dominance.

Propped up as a sacrificial lamb after beating Chris "Captain Hard Luck" Lytle to win the "Comeback" season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Serra not only beat St. Pierre but knocked him out with relative ease to notch the biggest shocker since Wayne Brady snapped a policeman's neck on "Chappelle's Show."

A year has passed since the MMA cognoscenti had their world views shattered, but Serra has remained on the sidelines thanks to a neck injury that put the kibosh on a title defense against Matt Hughes (Pictures).

That injury that gave St. Pierre (15-2) the opportunity to take his first step toward redemption, as he stepped in on short notice for a rubber match with Hughes for the interim welterweight title. Any questions as to who deserved to be Serra's first challenger were laid to rest after St. Pierre delivered a magnum opus of violence at Hughes' expense.

It was hardly a surprise. St. Pierre has been known to completely outclass his competition with an effortless combination of awe-inspiring physical talent and borderline unfair tactical acumen. Of course, every phenom has his flaw, and a fragile psyche has long been the silverback in the room when discussing Canada's favorite son.

St. Pierre rebounded brilliantly when that fragile psyche doomed him in his first match with Hughes, but expecting the same against an opponent who hit him with the Buster Douglas special may be asking too much of MMA's would-be king. A fact made all the more bizarre by the edge in skill St. Pierre would seem to hold over Serra. "Rush" has already proven himself to be a superior wrestler and has survived the vaunted submission skills of gifted grapplers such as Jason Miller and B.J. Penn (Pictures).

Throw in a varied and versatile striking game and St. Pierre would seem to be the prototypical mixed martial artist. Especially in comparison to Serra, who seems undersized at welterweight and has never proven that he can apply his world-class grappling credentials inside the Octagon.

Counting on Serra unleashing his inner Incredible Hulk on St. Pierre a second time is likely just as big a gamble as banking on St. Pierre exorcising his own personal demons.

Someone is going to be in for a "Vanilla Sky"-level rude awakening. Unfortunately for the Serra clan, St. Pierre will reboot his welterweight reign with the same safety-first approach he took against Penn. Even if Serra comes out guns blazing as he did the first time around.

St. Pierre will quickly plant Serra on his back with takedowns and gradually wear down "The Terror" with patient ground-and-pound. That's seemingly a dangerous gambit against a grappler with Serra's accolades, but St. Pierre has the submission defense to thwart anything Serra may throw at him.

This one will turn one-sided in a hurry, as St. Pierre establishes his dominance on the ground and forces a stoppage late in the second round after turning Serra's face into a side of corned beef hash.

If Serra can pull off the unthinkable a second time, it may be time to call in Dr. Phil.

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