Another UFC event is in the books, and another title defense for Georges St. Pierre is, also. Meanwhile, UFC 124 also had a few stunning one-round bouts, some good battles and even a draw, for good measure. Still, the night really belonged to St. Pierre, who added yet another trophy to his growing collection with a dominating win over Josh Koscheck.
Right from the outset, St. Pierre worked hard to make Koscheck uncomfortable, and it worked. Koscheck appeared nervous throughout the fight, constantly fiddling with his shorts and developing a BJ Penn-esque facial twitch as well. Who can blame him? A couple dozen thousand fans were rabidly booing him, and he was getting blasted with jabs from St. Pierre from the opening bell.
In the first stanza, those jabs quickly affected Koscheck, leading to swelling around his right eye that would later put the fight in jeopardy. However, the round was not without success for Koscheck, who defended a few takedown attempts from St. Pierre before converting one of his own with under half a minute left in the round. Strangely enough, he abandoned his wrestling for the rest of the fight.
From then on, things were much the same, though St. Pierre stopped attempting so many takedowns once he realized that he was tooling his opponent standing up. St. Pierre mixed leg kicks with jabs and punching combinations, steadily worsening the condition of Koscheck’s eye as the challenger tried to land overhand rights whenever the opportunity presented itself.
After the third round, the bout appeared to be in jeopardy when a ringside doctor took a close look at Koscheck’s right eye as the fight was supposed to be resuming for the fourth round. Koscheck was seen being asked whether he could see several times, and he indicated that he wanted to fight. The fight went on, but whether that was ultimately a good thing for Koscheck was debatable at that point.
It turns out that it really wasn’t, as St. Pierre began not only landing jabs, but also cracking Koscheck with left hooks that the challenger obviously had a hard time seeing, too. While Koscheck stood firm when St. Pierre landed, it started to seem as if his time in the cage that night was drawing to an end.
However, Koscheck was able to weather the storm, though he mounted little offense of his own and started to work on landing his own jabs in the later rounds. The strategy was not effective, and St. Pierre safely won all five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. This makes the eight straight win for St. Pierre, who hasn’t lost since Matt Serra pulled off his memorable upset victory at UFC 69 nearly four years ago. Coincidentally enough, St. Pierre’s current win streak began with a three round decision victory over Koscheck that got him back on the road to the welterweight title.
Stefan Struve once again showed the depth of his ground game by once again turning the tables on an opponent at UFC 124. Against Sean McCorkle, Struve looked to be in trouble early when McCorkle planted him on the mat and worked hard to coax a submission from a kimura. He had cranked the hold pretty well, but ultimately let it go when he wasn’t getting the reaction he wanted, and in short order, Struve used a kimura attempt of his own to sweep McCorkle. Struve ended up mounted on McCorkle and punched away at his trash talking foe, leading to a TKO stoppage.
Another one-rounder that had a reversal of fortunes was the bout between Jim Miller and Charles Oliveira. While Oliveira never had Miller in trouble, he did attempt what appeared to be 37 submissions (give or take) in the opening couple minutes of the fight. Miller deftly stayed out of trouble, even as Oliveira switched from guillotine to kimura to triangle choke, and so on. Then, Miller reacted to further submissions by sitting back and looking for a leglock of his own. Miller switched to a kneebar that caused Oliveira to tap out almost immediately.
Mac Danzig probably caused even more jaws to drop than Miller, as he caught Joe Stevenson with a exquisitely-timed left hook as Stevenson came forward, dropping him on the mat instantly. The KO was the first of Danzig’s career (though Danzig has a few TKO victories) and the only loss by that method for Stevenson besides the one he suffered against Jens Pulver back in 1999, when Stevenson was fighting in just his third professional bout. Danzig, who had lost four out of five previous to the Stevenson fight, may just have saved his job with the shocking finish.
The other main card fight featured Thiago Alves clearly defeating a game, but outgunned John Howard by unanimous decision in what should have probably been Fight of the Night (along with the bout between Matt Riddle and Sean Pierson). Through all three rounds, Alves landed more often and more effectively, cracking Howard with leg kicks and stalking his opponent around the cage. Alves stops an uncharacteristic two-fight slide with the win.
On the preliminary front, Jim Miller’s brother Dan defeated Joe Doerksen by split decision, while Rafael Natal and Jesse Bongfeldt fought to a rare tie in the only two fights that may have added a little controversy to the proceedings when it comes to the judges. The other decisions, including Pierson defeating Riddle, Ricardo Almeida beating TJ Grant, and John Makdessi besting Pat Audinwood, were unanimous and didn’t present any surprises.
The prelims weren’t all decisions, though. Mark Bocek slapped a triangle choke on highly-regarded grappler Dustin Hazelett just halfway into the first round of their fight for one of the more surprising finishes of the night. All around, the fights were well-received and represented an improvement over the somewhat lackluster action seen in last weekend’s finale of “The Ultimate Fighter: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck”.
As for Koscheck himself, he spoke at length with St. Pierre in the cage after their fight and had only good things to say about him in his post-fight interview. We’ll have to see whether he changes his tune as time goes on, but with St. Pierre already having two wins over Koscheck, it would seem that this rivalry is done for.
Tags: Charles Oliveira, Dustin Hazelett, Georges St. Pierre, Jim Miller, Joe Stevenson, John Howard, John Makdessi, Josh Koscheck, Mac Danzig, Mark Bocek, Matt Riddle, Pat Audinwood, Ricardo Almeida, Sean McCorkle, Sean Pierson, Stefan Struve, Thiago Alves, TJ Grant, UFC 124