Friday, December 10, 2010

UFC 124 St. Pierre vs. Koscheck: The Preview

If there is one constant in the world of MMA among the many hardcore and casual fans, it is that UFC Welterweight (170lbs.) Champion Georges St. Pierre is arguably the most popular fighter in the sport. By the same token, another constant is that welterweight contender Josh Koscheck is easily the most unpopular. However, when the two square off this Saturday night in Montreal, Canada, although the fan support will be lopsided, that doesn’t mean the fight will be.

Hardly strangers to one another, St. Pierre (20-2, 8 KO’s, 5 subs) and Koscheck (15-4, 4 KO’s, 5 subs) were coaches on the latest season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series and actually fought once before three plus years ago, in August 2007. At that time, St. Pierre won a decisive unanimous decision over Koscheck, actually defeating him using Koscheck’s biggest weapon, wrestling.

While Koscheck is a former Division One National Champion and four-time All-American from Edinboro University, he got worked when it came to wrestling in MMA by the Canadian champion. The question is does St. Pierre do it again? Or better yet, will he?

St. Pierre is well known for being a very cerebral fighter besides using his gifted physical talents. He always devises a certain game plan for his opponents and while using wrestling against the wrestler was the perfect formula the first time around, that doesn’t mean it will work again. Koscheck has undoubtedly been working that part of his game to perfection at his camp at American Kickboxing Academy along with doing the same for all parts of his game.

Not just a wrestler anymore, Koscheck has shown power and skill in his hands and an ever improving ground game as he has become a brown-belt in Jiu-Jitsu under renowned trainer Dave Camarillo. Yet, for all the growth he has experienced as a fighter, so too has St. Pierre.

Riding a seven-fight win streak in the octagon, after a surprising KO loss to former champ Matt Serra, St. Pierre has shown a more precise and disciplined fighting style with every fight. Only problem is, some people feel it may be too precise and more on the cautious and safe side as four of those seven wins have been by decision.

I disagree for two reasons. One is the caliber of opponents he went the distance with. Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch and Koscheck are hardly tomato cans. All top ten welterweights in the world who all have risen to #1 contender status. Second reason is his game planning and deliberateness to carry it out. What some may call a boring fighter, I call a smart one.

For that reason I see St. Pierre winning again. This time though I think he will finish Koscheck, mostly likely via TKO from a ground and pound beating he will unleash on the trash talking former wrestling champion with the Harpo Marx haircut. Just calling it like it is.

On the undercard there are two intriguing fights. One features welterweight contenders John ‘Doomsday’ Howard (14-5, 4 KO’s 6 subs) against the aforementioned Alves (17-7, 11 KO’s 1 sub). If this fight goes the distance, I’ll be very surprised as both love to throw hands and knees for that matter. However, I think Alves, is naturally bigger and more explosive, which is why I see the ‘Pitbull’ taking this one by KO.

The fight of interest is the lightweight (155lbs.) match-up between Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson (31-11, 6 KO’s, 15 subs) and Mac Danzig (19-8-1, 4 KO’s, 10 subs). Both for ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winners, Stevenson in season two and Danzig in season six, with a lot of promise, I think the loser of this fight will be cut from the UFC.

Danzig is (1-4) in his last five fights, while Stevenson is not much better at (2-3). With the recent merger and absorption of WEC lightweights onto the UFC roster, something’s got to give here. While Stevenson may have the edge in experience and tougher opponents, I’m giving the nod to Danzig via decision. Sorry Joe Daddy, you’re a nice guy, but as Leo Durocher said, “nice guys finish last.”

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