(We were going to make a joke about how we were not impressed by your pool party performance, but we can’t lie. Totally impressed. PicProps: The Dragon Zone)
As of this writing, Josh Koscheck is set to go off as a 3-1 underdog in the UFC 124 main event, according to most odds makers. Suffice it to say, the guy is not the popular pick among fans or media types to defeat Georges St. Pierre when they climb into the cage this Saturday. With good reason: We’ve already seen this fight once before at UFC 79. St. Pierre won in fairly dominant fashion and went on to amass a seven-fight win streak, erasing any doubt as to who is King Shit of Fuck Mountain at 170-pounds. We have no real reason to believe this bout will be any different. So why am I not 100 percent confident? Because I’m the kind of pessimistic son of a bitch who always fears worst, that’s why.
Also, there legitimately are some things that I find troubling just days before this fight. Here are five of them …
1. St. Pierre’s distractions.
GSP’s “Sportscenter” commercial has been in heavy rotation on the Worldwide Leader in recent days, getting good play during the farce that was Pats vs. Jets on Monday Night Football. Though he admittedly only has a couple of monosyllabic lines in the spot, the champ even does a pretty good acting job for a non-native English speaker. But the cynic in me wonders: What’s he doing filming commercials in the weeks leading up to a title fight, anyway? Couple that with his recent trip to the Philippines, the disruption to his normal routine while filming “TUF” and the fact that this fight is in his hometown (as much curse as blessing, most fighters say), and you gotta wonder if we’re really going to see the best, most prepared St. Pierre in the cage Saturday night.
2. GSP letting Koscheck get to him.
Spending 12 weeks (or whatever) filming a reality show alongside Josh Koscheck has got to be a unique and altogether loathsome experience. Just existing in such close proximity to that kind of infantile douchebaggery probably makes you want to claw your own eyes out. GSP obviously coached the shit out of it during the show and never really responded to any of Koscheck’s attempts at baiting him, but he’s admitted this week that all that crap really did get under his skin. Hopefully not so much that it effects his mindset or game planning for this fight. Which leads me to this …
3. Focusing on the finish.
St. Pierre says his whole training camp has been focused on not letting this fight go the distance. Meanwhile, you’ve got GSP’s occasional boxing coach Freddie Roach predicting an early knockout via left hook. Let’s hope that last bit is subterfuge. I think it would be a serious mistake for St. Pierre to let some mixture of his desire to punch Koscheck in the face and the current popular backlash against wrestling force him away from the cautious and effective style he’s used to build his current win streak. I just hope when he says he’s been focusing on the finish he means the GNP and/or submission variety.
4. Koscheck is taking this shit seriously.
One need only watch the five-plus minutes of a morose, dead-eyed Josh Koscheck answering all of Ariel Helwani’s questions in a psychotic monotone while refusing to look anywhere but the floor to know Kos isn’t fucking around this time. Dude says he’s only leaving his hotel room before the fight for weigh-ins and press functions. In fact, it’s kind of creepy near the end of the video when Koscheck slithers: “Maybe I am a bad guy. Maybe that is the case.” Getting his Hannibal Lecter on. Some people online say he looked nervous? Looked focused to me.
5. History tells us the MMA Gods will smile upon you only so long.
You ever notice that it seems like every time the mainstream media keys into the fact that someone is supposed to be a really good MMA fighter – Kimbo Slice, Fedor, Brock Lesnar – that guy immediately goes out and loses his next fight? It’s like in the old VH-1 “Behind the Music” specials when they would spend 15 minutes of the show telling you how great things were going for the band and then before the first commercial break they’d say: “Metallica was riding high, but it was all about to come crashing down.” At that point, you knew what was coming next – boom – bus wreck. Poor Cliff Burton gets spit out on the side of a dark highway and has a goddamn RV land on his face.
Is it St. Pierre’s turn to be Cliff Burton? I hope not. But look, at the risk of sounding a bit too superstitious, I think it’s pretty safe to say GSP has reached the “riding high” stage of his career and that the recent history in this sport has taught me to view funny ESPN videos, Gatorade sponsorships and training-with-the-stars footage as harbingers of doom. Need I point out that the three previous times a UFC champion appeared as a coach on “TUF” – Randy Couture, Rampage Jackson and Big Nog — he lost the championship in the ensuing bout? Can GSP overcome these precedents? Probably, but that’s not going to stop me from worrying about it until about 11:30 on Saturday night.