With one loss only to BJ Penn, Matt Hughes had been an extremely dominant champion in the welterweight division, winning 7 of his past 8 fights. He defeated Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton twice, Gil Castillo, and Renato Verissimo.
St. Pierre had been on a tear since joining the UFC in 2002. Before losing to Matt Hughes at UFC 50, St. Pierre had a perfect 7-0 record, beating fighters like Ivan Menjivar, Justin Bruckmann, Karo Parisyan, and Jay Hieron. After the loss to Hughes, St. Pierre wasted no time, going 5-0 in his next five fights against stiff competition. He defeated Dave Strasser, Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, and BJ Penn. It was St. Pierre’s continuing dominance up the welterweight ladder that earned him another shot at Matt Hughes.
Round 1: St. Pierre and Hughes meet in the middle of the ring. They circle briefly, then St. Pierre starts to open up with jabs. He starts immediately throwing leg kicks and punches. St. Pierre looks like a man possessed as he is the aggressor. Hughes throws a couple of punches back, but so far he can not match the output of St. Pierre. St. Pierre is really pushing the action, landing jabs and kicks. St. Pierre throws a spinning back kick that lands to Hughes body that forces him back into the cage.
They re-engage and St. Pierre accidently kicks to Hughes groin area. Hughes gets up and they continue. St. Pierre lands another kick to the groin right away, and Hughes takes a break. They continue in the center and St. Pierre continues where he left off. He is dominating in the stand up, throwing punches, leg kicks, and some knees. With about a minute left in the round, St. Pierre catches a kick from Hughes and takes him down. He works inside his guard, landing a few punches. Hughes is able to get back to his feet, and they move back to the center. Hughes tries to get St. Pierre down and he is unable to. With only seconds left in the round, St. Pierre connects with a strong hook that drops Hughes to the canvas. St. Pierre pounces trying to finish, but the horn sounds the end of the round.
Round 2: They meet in the center again. St. Pierre opens up with a couple of kick attempts. St. Pierre looks to be the fresher of the two as Hughes face shows damage from Round 1. St. Pierre continues putting on a clinic, catching Hughes with stiff jabs, and throwing kicks that backs Hughes up. At the 3:43 mark of the fight, St. Pierre catches Hughes with a strong high kick to the face. The kick drops Hughes immediately to the canvas and he looks hurt. St. Pierre rushes Hughes and starts dropping bombs to his head. Hughes tries to hold on, but St. Pierre’s attack is too strong, and after 2 or 3 unanswered elbows from St. Pierre, referee John Mccarthy steps in and stops the fight. St. Pierre defeats Matt Hughes by KO in Round 2, and becomes the new welterweight champion of the world.