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Serra denies loud crowd a factor in UFC 83 loss

MONTREAL - If you were a Canadian fighter Saturday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, you could do no wrong.

And Montreal native Georges St. Pierre did everything right against Long Islander and defending UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra in the mixed martial arts bout.

St. Pierre, like many of the Canadian fighters on the UFC 83 card, was blanketed by the deafening cheers of his home crowd of 21,390 fans and stayed mostly on top of Serra for two rounds to reclaim the welterweight championship with a referee stoppage at 4:43 of the second round.

"It's never a good feeling," Serra said. "This game has such extreme highs and lows. I haven't had a fight stopped since Shonie Carter in 2001. So obviously, I'm not happy."

Serra (16-5), who teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu in East Meadow and Huntington, was in hostile territory from the beginning. Besides having family, friends and nearly 20 of his students at the event, the cheers for St. Pierre overwhelmed everything, even the postfight Octagon interviews.

"No, not at all," Serra said when asked if the St. Pierre fans got to him. "I'm actually pretty cool with that. My head is pretty good with that stuff."

St. Pierre (16-2) started quickly. Learning from his last fight with Serra, in which Serra knocked out the heavily favored St. Pierre last April at UFC 69 in Houston. The 26-year-old St. Pierre used his impressive wrestling skills, shot in on the defending champ's legs and took him down early. However, Serra, who holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, was able to survive the first round.

At the start of the second, Serra had a large bruise on his right eye. Once again, St. Pierre was able to take down the 33-year-old Serra. From there, St. Pierre was relentless. Serra did his best to spin out of bad positions, but the crowd favorite landed devastating knees to the ribs of a turtled-up Serra near the end of the second round as referee Yves Lavigne stepped in and stopped the fight.

"I couldn't hear my corner man," St. Pierre said about the crowd noise. "At the end, I used the energy of the crowd to finish with a flurry."

Serra originally was supposed to fight Matt Hughes last December, but during a training session in November, Serra herniated two discs in his back and the fight was postponed. St. Pierre stepped in and fought Hughes in December for the interim welterweight title.

But the long way that Serra has come isn't only measured in the distance from East Meadow to Montreal. With a 4-4 UFC record in 2005, Serra wasn't considered a top welterweight contender. But then in 2006, he won "The Comeback" season of SpikeTV's "The Ultimate Fighter," which earned him the title shot against St. Pierre.

"Hughes is the next logical opponent," said Serra, who coached against Hughes during a season of "The Ultimate Fighter." "I want to take the wife on vacation, chill out, go over some new techniques, train ... I'll probably fight again in the fall."

New York Sports