Georges St. Pierre has agreed to fill in for Matt Serra and will fight Matt Hughes on December 29th for the Interim Welterweight Championship in the headline bout of UFC 79 the UFC announced on Saturday. St. Pierre was expected to take on the winner of the Serra-Hughes title match in early-2008 in Montreal but that match could now be his first title defense if he is able to defeat Hughes.
In 2004 at UFC 50 Matt Hughes handed St. Pierre the first loss of his career, submitting the Canadian fighter late in the first round. St. Pierre exacted revenge late last year by defeating Hughes with an early second round TKO. With both fighters securing a quick victory in the first two meetings this match is as unpredictable as they come. St. Pierre will have just over a month to focus on training for this fight though he is regarded as one of the most athletic fighters in the sport today and is expected to be fully prepared to recapture his title.
Serra shocked the world in April when he knocked St. Pierre out in round 1 of their title bout at UFC 69. The win, the first UFC championship won by a castmember of The Ultimate Fighter, led to Serra and Hughes being coaches on the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter with the goal that they square off following the conclusion of the season. After suffering an injury earlier this week Serra was forced to withdraw from the title match prompting the UFC to book St. Pierre to face Hughes for an interim welterweight title. The winner of the match is then expected to face Serra in 2008 to unify the belts.
The severity of Serra’s injury is not yet known and he could be out for the better part of a year if surgery is required.
St. Pierre enters the bout with a 14-2 professional MMA record that includes wins over BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and Karo Parisyan. Following his loss to Serra St. Pierre defeated Josh Koscheck in August in a battle of top contenders.
Hughes holds a 41-5 record but has fought just once since losing to St. Pierre in October of 2006. Hughes defeated Chris Lytle in March at UFC 68.