(Rub some dirt on it. PicProps: UFC.com)
Georges St. Pierre so totally outclassed Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 on Saturday night that it’s tempting to call his performance one of scariest five-round beatdowns of all time. Unfortunately, St. Pierre is too damn nice to ever be described as scary. In fact, one of the things that’s so great about GSP is that his very being invalidates all of the run-of-the-mill MMA clichés that so often lead us to refer to fighters as “savages” or “warriors” or some other such made-up bullshit. St. Pierre is a sportsman; a dude who has absolutely no qualms about beating your ass for as long as his job description requires, then sharing an awkwardly lengthy embrace with you inside the cage before getting on the mic and apologizing to the fans for not beating your ass even worse. Frankly, it’s impossible not to like the guy for it.
There is also something uniquely pleasing about seeing karma suddenly catch up with a high school bully in the form of a 25-minute face-pounding. That’s really what made UFC 124 so enjoyable to watch. By the mid-point of the first round in their main event fight, St. Pierre had already beaten Koscheck so badly that he’d transformed the normally ubercocky wrestler into a dude with Tourette syndrome. Lips quivering, jaw working up and down, hands constantly playing with the hem of his trunks as if compelled by some uncontrollable nervous tic, Koscheck knew immediately that whatever game plan he’d spent weeks cooking up back home at AKA, it was dogshit. Once he realized that St. Pierre had his number, there was nothing he could do but ride it out to the painful end. It was, in a word, glorious.
St. Pierre’s jab – a meme the UFC broadcast team grabbed hold of, jumped on top of and absolutely humped into a living death – was admittedly impressive. Last night he exchanged the slow-and-steady grappling attack we’d seen from him in his last half-dozen outings for a fluid striking game that kept Koscheck at range and made the challenger’s looping overhand right look silly and ineffectual by comparison.
At times it sounded like Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan were just pulling adjectives out of a top hat to try to describe what was going on inside the cage. It was that impressive. The champion’s speed and straight punches flat beat Koscheck to the target. In this case the target was an area above his right eye, which quickly ballooned up like a cartoonish purple toe. Knowing that Koscheck couldn’t beat St. Pierre on his best day, once the dude only had one eyeball left it was sort of understandable that he spent the rest of the contest looking gun-shy and hesitant. We would look that way too if we had to fight Georges St. Pierre wearing half a blindfold.
It was the sort of performance from GSP that left little doubt as to the identity of the current best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It also made further welterweight competition seem irrelevant for the guy — if St. Pierre can do this to Koscheck, imagine what he’d do to Jake Shields – and a future move to middleweight appear all but ensured. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a logjam at the top of the 185-pound division at the moment, with Anderson Silva set to take on Vitor Belfort, while Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will allegedly coach “TUF” and then fight, assumedly with No. 1-contender status on the line.
Rogan also warned us at the tail end of the UFC 124 broadcast that it would take some time for GSP to move up a division. “He wants to do it naturally,” Rogan explained, almost apologetically. Why, we’re sure we don’t know what you mean, Joe. What other way would he do it?
Real talk, though? St. Pierre is so good at this point that he leaves the UFC brass with few options: Either bump him up to 185-pounds or call off the welterweight division entirely, just to save everybody else the embarrassment.