Every fighter in the UFC, whether champion, legend or debutant, has to start somewhere. That somewhere usually isn’t the big show. Occasionally, multiple future stars end up gathered on a single regional card. At the time, this card may not seem significant, but years down the road, we can look back in hindsight and marvel at how stacked that event turned out to be. That’s exactly what we’ll do in this series, called History Lessons.

So, let’s jump in the time machine and travel back. The date was June 15, 2002, and the location was the Robert Guertin Arena in Hull, Quebec, Canada. It was time for Universal Combat Challenge 10: Battle for the Belts 2002.

The Universal Combat Challenge, which would later rebrand itself as TKO Major League MMA, had more talent on its early cards than many people likely realized. By its 10th event, the lineup included two future UFC champions and a slew of fighters who would make at least one Octagon appearance over the course of their careers. Though he was not yet receiving top billing, Georges St-Pierre now stands as the most significant name from the evening’s lineup.

St-Pierre was less than five months removed from his professional debut, in which he scored a first-round TKO of Ivan Menjivar, who was fighting as a welterweight at the time. In just his second pro bout, St-Pierre was chasing championship gold. His opponent in that fight was Justin Bruckmann, a 4-1 prospect who had defeated (and lost to) David Loiseau in his brief career. St-Pierre, not yet the decision machine he is these days, needed just under four minutes to secure an armbar and submit Bruckmann to claim the UCC welterweight title.

Over the next year and a half, St-Pierre went on to successfully defend the title on three occasions. The bigger shocker to critics of the long-reigning UFC welterweight kingpin might come in the fact that through his UCC title victory and three subsequent defenses, GSP only saw the second round once, in a TKO stoppage of Thomas Denny. His other defenses each ended in under four minutes, with a TKO victory over Travis Galbraith and a submission of Pete Spratt bookending his string of defenses. The win over Spratt punched St-Pierre’s ticket into the UFC, where he debuted against Karo Parisyan and went the distance for the first time in his pro career.

St-Pierre’s was not the only championship bout on the UCC 10 lineup. The promotion had three other title tilts that night, with the promotion’s world heavyweight strap, Canadian light heavyweight belt and Canadian featherweight championships all on the line.

The Canadian featherweight strap resided around the waist of Richard Nancoo at the beginning of the event, but, by the end of the night, it would end up around the midsection of a fighter that fans are much more familiar with nowadays.

Nancoo was a 5-0-1 prospect heading into the event, where he met Mark Hominick. Hominick was making his professional debut in a championship outing. The Canadian, who has since gone on to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title, scored the TKO victory over Nancoo in the third round of the contest. He went on to defend the belt twice under the UCC banner and twice under the TKO banner before relinquishing it to Shane Rice.

In the headliner, Sean Alvarez, who had suffered previous losses to Oleg Taktarov and Eric Pele, punched his ticket to the UFC with a second-round submission of Extreme Challenge veteran Mike Radnov. It would be the last victory of Alvarez’s career. He was stripped of the title when he left for the UFC, where he lost via TKO versus Wesley “Cabbage” Correira in the last fight of his seven-fight career.

The Canadian light heavyweight title ended up in Steve Vigneault’s possession following his second-round knockout of Jeromie Sills. Vigneault would compete once in the UFC, several years after UCC 10, but lost his lone Octagon appearance against Mike Swick.

St-Pierre and Hominick may have been the only two competitors from the evening’s championship bouts to make a significant impact in the UFC, but the remainder of the card is full of significant names.

Future UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin was already 9-0 (1 NC) through his first 10 fights when he locked horns with Yan Pellerin at UCC 10. Pellerin, a Canadian journeyman who now holds a 9-13 mark, lasted just over three minutes with Franklin before submitting to an armbar. Following the victory, Franklin made one more regional appearance before making his UFC debut in 2003.

Rounding out the card, Menjivar claimed a unanimous decision over future UFC and WEC vet Jeff Curran, Drew McFedries notched his first pro win with a two-round unanimous decision verdict over fellow future UFCer Claude Patrick, and Sean Pierson submitted Mark Colangelo.

At the time of the event, UCC 10 may have seemed like a strong Canadian card featuring a healthy serving of prospects. However, nobody at the time could have expected it to generate two future UFC champions, including one certain future Hall of Famer, and a long list of fighters who would eventually appear inside the Octagon. For those reasons, this card stands as an important piece of MMA history.

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)