After two months without a title belt on the line, the UFC will be hosting the welterweight championship between current king Georges St. Pierre and number one contender Josh Kosheck this weekend in Montreal.
GSP is arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. The 170-pound champ is 15-2 inside the Octagon with his last defeat coming by way of a TKO loss to Matt Serra in 2007. He’s defended his belt four times with really nobody coming close to challenging him during his current run.
Since his TKO defeat to the heavy-handed Serra, many have indicated that he’s been gunshy, unwilling to open up his striking game. And more recently, in bouts against Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy, his inability to finish either fighter on the ground has also been put underneath the microscope. In his last four bouts, he’s finished only one fighter: BJ Penn via TKO in round four.
Although St. Pierre and Koscheck went the distance in their original matchup, there are several factors at play that I think will earn the Canadian his first (T)KO or submission in almost two years.
Here’s why GSP will finish Koscheck:
Everybody hates Josh: GSP might have simply looked past the perennial UFC heel Koscheck, who he defeated over three years ago at UFC 74. A much-rumored superfight against Anderson Silva could easily distract GSP from the upcoming scrap. But Koscheck’s grating personality and in-your-face communication style with the current welterweight champ during the taping of TUF 12 has likely gotten the French Canadian’s attention. GSP, not know for showing emotions, could have extra motivation to stick it to Kos.
GSP’s trainer has something to prove: After being called out by Dana White at UFC 122 for implementing conservative game plans for his fighters, I’m sure Greg Jackson and team are eager to prove the boss wrong.
To stop the incessant questions by the media and fans: After the wins against Hardy and Alves, which were basically five-round wrestling clinics, the MMA community began debating his finishing ability. GSP explained his thoughts about the matter in a recent UFC press conference. "I want to finish fights," St. Pierre said. "I've been very close my last fights. In my last fight, close to finishing two times. I made a little mistake. I want to make sure if I get the opportunity to finish I'm going to take it. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't make the same mistake twice."
Freddie Roach: Although GSP is one of the most well-rounded fighters in mixed martial arts, the one weakness in his game was his striking. What better way to improve his boxing skills than to be trained by arguably the best boxing coach in the business, Freddie Roach. “The way I was punching, a lot of stuff I was doing was wrong, and [Roach] corrected it," said St. Pierre. “In the first fight with Josh, when I was striking, it was mostly to set up takedowns, but this time it will be also to knock him out.”
Gracie Jiu Jitsu: In St. Pierre’s last bout against Hardy, although he was clearly dominating his opponent on the ground in the five round battle, GSP was unable finish his opponent despite multiple submission attempts. In an effort to tighten up his Brazilian jiu jitsu skills, the champ has been training with Roger Gracie. “Roger Gracie came in and helped me a lot," St. Pierre said. “Roger finishes his opponent when he takes the guy's back. I've been working on that, so if I get the opportunity to finish, I will be able to finish him a lot better this time. I've been putting a lot of energy on punching power and the finish.”
Bonus reason: Phan vs. Garcia. After a ridiculous decision that robbed Nam Phan of his first UFC victory, Dana White’s mantra of "not letting the judges decide your fate" will certainly ring true on Saturday.
UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 11. The main card will air live via PPV.
Georges St. Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck (welterweight title)
Sean McCorkle vs. Stefan Struve
Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira
Thiago Alves vs. John Howard