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What Can We Learn From St. Pierre vs. Koscheck I?

This Saturday, after a season of TUF that saw Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck grow to like each other even less than they already did, the two welterweight stars will square off in the main event of UFC 124. St. Pierre will be attempting to make his fifth-consecutive title defense; GSP has been involved in 10 title fights in his UFC career, but this is just the first for Koscheck.

As you’re probably aware, St. Pierre and Koscheck squared off once before, in the co-headlining match of UFC 74 back in August 2007. St. Pierre had just lost his belt to Matt Serra in a monumental upset. Koscheck was riding a five-fight win streak, and had out-pointed Diego Sanchez four months prior.

Since that night, George St. Pierre has been undefeated and untouchable in six contests, flawlessly sweeping out the 170-pound division. Koscheck has gone 6-2, taking out some tough opponents in impressive fashion, but getting smacked down by a couple of Brazilians. And now, St. Pierre and Koscheck are going at it again. Which means it’s time to re-watch their first fight and see if we can get any perspective on this thing. Let’s begin…

Koscheck comes out trying to end things early with his fists in round one. But nothing really lands, and when Koscheck tries a leg kick, GSP deftly scoops it up and puts Kos on his back, where he remains for the next three minutes. St. Pierre passes to half-guard, and starts throwing down punches intermittently. Koscheck returns a few elbows off his back. With about a minute and a half left in the round, Kos manages to stand up and score a takedown of his own. Koscheck isn’t able to do much on top, but he does keep a dominant position and fires down a hard punch at the very end of the round.

Round two is all GSP. The former champ shows off some of his striking before landing another takedown. St. Pierre tries to set up a kimura from half-guard, but can’t quite get it. He passes to side control. Kos tries to buck off the mat, but St. Pierre is on him like a glue-stick. GSP tries the kimura again while sitting on Koscheck’s head. It’s a humiliating position, and GSP is very close to sinking it, but Kos manages to keep his arm in its socket — which has to count for something, even if he wasn’t able to do anything offensively in the entire round.

Third and final round: Kos goes back to throwing heat, hungry for the knockout. St. Pierre responds to Koscheck’s slugging with a more measured, varied striking attack that seems to be a lot more effective. GSP starts lighting Koscheck up, and Kos grabs a leg. Kos tries for a takedown, Georges sprawls like a superhero, then gets to pounding on Kos with elbows. They brawl on the ground in the closing seconds before GSP falls into a leglock attempt just for the hell of it.

GSP takes the fight in a unanimous decision by a final score of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27, meaning that two of the judges gave Koscheck the first round — which sounds kind of odd until you realize that one of those judges was Adalaide Byrd.

Both fighters will tell you that they’ve come a long way in the last three years. But while Josh Koscheck has continued to put effort into becoming a more "complete" fighter, Georges St. Pierre has gotten even better as a wrestler, and even more committed to taking opponents down and controlling them from the top. If he could keep Koscheck on his back in 2007, I have no doubt that he’ll be able to do it again this weekend.

In recent years, Koscheck has shown more knockout ability than St. Pierre. But as we see here, that ability comes from throwing heavy power-shots that are easy to see coming and don’t often come in combination. St. Pierre’s striking is a lot more technical. In their first fight, GSP was able to land a lot of shots by mixing up his attack, but more importantly, he was able to easily avoid most of Koscheck’s strikes.

I will say this for Josh Koscheck — he’s a tough S.O.B. who doesn’t give up a kimura easily and stays active on the bottom. In their first fight, Kos was always either trying to escape or punching back at GSP. He didn’t seem nearly as lost on his back as, say, Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves were against St. Pierre. That will serve Koscheck well in the rematch. But it’s not enough to win the fight, and neither is the sort-of-irrelevant idea that Koscheck hits harder. He’ll need a great gameplan, and lots of luck.


Cagepotato Comments

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budsellers- December 9, 2010 at 11:24 am
anyone who thinks gsp's submission skills are up to snuff in 2010 must be delusional... you need to take note of this man's ufc record.

14 wins(7 decisions, 5 tko & 2 submissions)
2 losses(1 tko & 1 armbar)

* both losses were for the belt and he actually tapped to serra, but it was called a tko.

* his tko victories on the other hand were all against men with a size & reach disadvantages(shorter men with short arms).

* his only submission wins were hughes(3 years ago) and trigg(5+ years ago).

* each of his decision victories included him putting on a good show of skills and technique without ever actually putting the opponent in what the opponent would consider "real danger".

yes, he is still the welterweight champ, but those are some weak stats for gsp nuthuggers to defend.
dranokills- December 9, 2010 at 7:04 am
what did I learn?

That fraggles can swing from exercise equipment like George of the Jungle.
Elentius- December 9, 2010 at 6:46 am
Hey Ghost

Hardy knew how to get out of an armbar and GSP even said he made a few mistakes. I am sure he corrected them and we will see Kos tap. Anything can happen though.
Elentius- December 9, 2010 at 6:42 am
GSP via sub
RSparrow- December 9, 2010 at 5:29 am
What can we learn from St. Pierre vs Koscheck 1??

History repeats itself. PERIOD.
frndlylion- December 9, 2010 at 4:53 am
Kos vs Tito sponsored by Massengill the preferred douche bag used by the UFC's two biggest douche bags.
ghostboner- December 8, 2010 at 11:51 pm
Also, I think Dan Hardy was in danger of being subbed, although by his own admission he can't grapple for shit.
ghostboner- December 8, 2010 at 11:48 pm
Why the hell are we even talking about this? Once kos beats GSP he can finally move on to the fight that everyone cares about, that we have all been waiting for, that we have not got to see yet.... Better than Diaz vs miller.... More exciting that Zimmer vs Martinez II.... Kos vs Tito!!!!

P.S. I still pick Kos to win.
sam bowman- December 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm
penn every time
SgT.SauceD- December 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm
Actually I got a 5 dollar prop bet with my buddy that GSP scores a takedown in the opening minute of this fight.
Hummus- December 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm
Penn over Sanchez.
Ballkick- December 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm
I don't care how you slice this, dissect it, or pick it apart, GSP will win this in spectacular fashion. Koscheck will have to wait to motorboat his life-partner when he gets home.
Clyde- December 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm
Very true RWR. Lesson learned from the Alves fight.
sam bowman- December 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm
Am i the only one who thinks that kos can win? he is not even the same fighter he was back when they first fought. GSP is with out a doubt one of the best there as ever been, but he just isn't even exciting anymore when is the last time he even finished anyone impresively. All he does is take people down and hold them there he is fighting to win and not to lose. i think that it will be a war and it can go eather way but i just have to go for the bad guy on this one and i want to see a new champ.. but no disrespect to GSP he is one of my favorit fighter, i just think he needs hes fire back and i think a lose will give it to him and he will come back strong like he always does.
RwilsonR- December 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm
^^^ He may have learned - see Daley vs. Kos. I hope you're right, though.
HipHopHieronymus- December 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm
Kos doesn't gameplan or play to his strengths (see Alves vs Kos)
mikesioda- December 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm
Who cares about some fence grabbing? It's not like he faked being hit with illegal blows. Those are in two total different categories of douche-baggery. Just about every fighter out there grabs the fence now & then - but I can't think of anyone that has pulled the shit Kos has.

If you want to view UFC as a sport like football where its acceptable squabble about nit-picky shit 1/10 yard or a slight movement before the snap then you have a point. For the UFC this means you care about who is wearing more knee pads for grip like G-Sot or who grabbed the fence/ropes for 1/2 a second (I only grabbed the fence 2x, my opponent did 5x, what a cheater!), or who got a partial headbutt that doesn't matter, or about punches that hit 1/4 of the back of someone's head because they give it up since they know it's illegal.

But if you are like me then all you care about is who would win in a fight if there were no rules & unlimited time. I'm not saying you should go out & try to smash your opponents balls into a mashed pile of bloody Sloppy Joe's, I'm just saying that this shit is mostly inconsequential. The no grabbing the fence rule is there to protect the guys that grab - so they don't break fingers. If that is all it takes to stop your wrestling game then it wasn't good enough anyways.

Kos will get smashed like the bitch he is. GSP by TKO in R3.
Nealio- December 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Motorboating someone's ass: not something I want to see
PortlandMMA- December 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm
This fight is going to be way different, Kos is definitely going to motorboat that ass...whatever the fuck that means.
echoxer0- December 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm
u hear big john saying, u can push off the fence but not grab it^
Videodrome_NOW- December 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm
I find it funny that anyone would give Kos credit for his knockout power. Who the fuck did he knock out? Yoshida, Trigg, effin what? His competition hasn't been anywhere near that of St. Pierre's and we all know he has added pressure to back up all his shit talking. When Paulo Thiago blasted Josh in the face, Kos turned into a feeble gimp. After GSP destroys Kos, we're all going to be like, "why did we even think this was going to be a good fight?.." Some want to pretend that GSP has real threats in the division so that they can continue to make shitloads off GSP destroying people, not actually giving him the best and most dangerous opponents.
Joe-Say Aldo- December 8, 2010 at 1:46 pm
GSP grabs the cage at the 5:53 mark, at the 6:54 mark, at the 7:01 mark, and at 7:05. What a freakin' cheater, brah.
RwilsonR- December 8, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Just to play a little devil's advocate - when GSP and Kos first fought, Kos was deluding himself into thinking he could KO anyone. He was in the mood to swing wildly, and never figured that GSP would be as good of a wrestler as he was in that fight. Kos thought based on his wrestling pedigree alone he could control where the fight went, and was blindsided by GSP's wrestling prowess. However, since trying to take the heads off of Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago and only succeeding in getting his taken off, it seems he has decided to go back to wrestling first. I think GSP has been the most effective wrestler in MMA, but a lot of that is because he so effectively mixes in the wrestling with his striking. The first match, Kos wasn't expecting GSP's wrestling game, and he thought he could make it a striking match. If Kos turns this into a straight wrestling match, I'm not so sure that GSP is the better wrestler. Kos is an amazing wrestler when he wants to be, and it has been a long time since we have seen GSP on his back. Kos will be expecting GSP's wrestling this time, and based on his fight with Daley, Kos doesn't seem to be deluded into thinking he is an invincible striker anymore and should fight a smarter fight. I expect to see Kos continually trying to put GSP on his ass, and if GSP takes up Freddie Roach's 'boxing-for-mma' that is really just 'boxing-not-taking-mma-into-account', he might open himself up to be taken down.

Okay, that was my effort to give a worst case scenario. I actually think, and hope, that GSP beats Kos soundly and relatively quickly. I just think that if anyone has the athleticism and wrestling to keep up with GSP, it will be Kos. I hope not.
LAS- December 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Ricco TKOed Randy in their title fight in round 5, when he broke Randy's orbital with GNP.


I feel the same way; I kind of liked the UFC more when it was a trashier product, as evidence by bootleg sponsorships like Mickey's and Condom Depot.
Mr.ChandellaPowell- December 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm
Has there ever been a 5th round KO? I don't remember one. GSP by 5th round TKO, just for the heck of it.