If you’re relatively new to MMA fandom, you’ve lived in a world where the UFC has had only one welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre has reigned as the UFC’s undisputed welterweight kingpin since 2008, when he defeated Matt Serra.
The fact is that while St-Pierre’s reign may be quite lengthy, it’s not his first. The man who is now recognized as one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in the sport had a brief stay atop the welterweight division before his current lengthy run.
St-Pierre came to the UFC in early 2004 with an unbeaten record of 5-0. Two fights later, after earning wins over Karo Parisyan and Jay Hieron, St-Pierre was given the chance to fight Matt Hughes for the then-vacant UFC welterweight title.
Hughes exuded cool confidence during the introductions of UFC 50, slowly walking around the cage with a look of indifference etched across his visage. When the two stepped to the center of the Octagon for their final instructions from referee John McCarthy, Hughes started straight ahead, while St-Pierre looked anywhere but into the eyes of Hughes.
The fight was essentially over before it had begun. At 4:59 of Round 1, Hughes made things official with a submission win.
St-Pierre would regroup after the first defeat of his career and put together a five-fight winning streak. That streak included wins over Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn. As a result of his successful run, St-Pierre found himself back in line to face Hughes for another shot at UFC gold.
St-Pierre had no qualms looking into the eyes of his opponent during the UFC 65 staredown. Shortly after, the MMA world had a new welterweight champion, as St-Pierre used a head kick and ground-and-pound to end the fight early in Round 2.
St-Pierre would lose the title to Matt Serra in his next bout. That loss, at UFC 69, remains one of the biggest upsets in the sport. St-Pierre would have his revenge on Serra at UFC 83 and hasn’t looked back since, racking up eight consecutive defenses of the title.