The headline says it all.
I am picking Josh Koscheck to defeat Georges St. Pierre via second round TKO (ground and pound) at UFC 74.
There, I said it!
I want to clarify before I go into my dissertation that I’m not a pro-Koscheck guy or an anti-St. Pierre guy, I’m just giving my unbiased opinion.
Take it or leave it.
But wait a minute, how unbiased am I?
For a long time I was a huge GSP fan. No, strike that, I was a MARK for GSP. However, my enthusiasm has waned somewhat out of fear that he could be the Fredo Corleone of the UFC’s welterweight division.
Prior to UFC 69, UFC president Dana White went into Don West-mode (pre-TNA wrestling) and gave us the hard sell on GSP, proclaiming him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. I bought into it, and I know a lot of you did as well.
What happened in the months after UFC 69? White went from calling him one of the best in the world to publicly question his character! Dana didn’t hesitate to throw GSP under the bus, questioning his mental toughness while praising his athletic abilities.
Apparently GSP didn’t take Matt Serra lightly before the fight. In fact, he was a little bit nervous. A little bit? Well okay, maybe he was having a near-panic attack.
But you can’t bury GSP for an isolated incident. Fighting is a brutal sport and if you’re not running through a gamut of emotions then you’re probably a cyborg. The problem is that during his UFC 58 fight against B.J. Penn, he nearly quit on the stool after the first round. The announcers never really addressed it but after watching years of boxing it was clear as day that his corner had to talk him into going out and fighting. It’s a good thing they were able to convince him because we all know how the fight turned out.
So what if this is a trend and what if GSP doesn’t have the mental toughness needed to reach his full physical potential?
If he was nervous for Serra then don’t you think he might be scared shitless of Koscheck, a fighter who has an inane ability of making good fighters look bad?
GSP is a good wrestler with good submissions but his greatest strength is his striking. The concern is that Koscheck is essentially the old New Jersey Devils of the UFC.
The Devils utilized the trap as a way to neutralize an opposing team’s skating ability and bring their offense to a screeching halt. The end result was usually some very boring hockey. When Koscheck hits one of his shots and gets a fighter on their back, it’s the same idea.
The key in this fight won’t be whether Koscheck can execute a shot and take GSP down. The key will be how much his ground and pound has improved. Once he gets GSP on the ground he needs to get to work. Working submissions will be tough because Koscheck hasn’t been taking Jiu-Jitsu long enough to tap out an experienced grappler like GSP. But if he can throw strikes from inside the guard then it will help him break guard and move into the mount.
He’ll not only score points, but he’ll break St. Pierre.
From my limited experience in fighting, nothing is more demoralizing then having someone pounding your face with fists and elbows while you’re flat on your back. It’s a real helpless feeling and I’ve found myself actually wanting to call timeout when I’ve been in that situation. I mean, what can you do when your opponent is “making it rain?”
For GSP, the gameplan is simple: don’t let Koscheck take him down!
After technique, athleticism is the most essential part of having good takedown defense and GSP has athletic ability to spare. But Koscheck will be relentless in going for attempt after attempt. The tricky part is that his striking has improved enough that he can now set up his shots. GSP is going to have to keep things honest and that could open the door for Koscheck. One takedown might be all Koscheck needs if he’s been working on his elbows and fists from inside the guard.
If Koscheck doesn’t stay busy then he’s going to be wasting his time. Lay and pray isn’t going to get him a shot at the welterweight title.
Hell, it might not even be enough to get a decision.
If Koscheck doesn’t do any damage and GSP is able to provide some highlight reel strikes, he might get the benefit of the doubt from the judges. The crowd will also no doubt be behind GSP and that could also sway the judges (i.e. Cecil Peoples).
There are a lot of things that could go right for GSP in this fight but there are just so many things that could go wrong against Koscheck. And unless St. Pierre has been seeing a sports psychologist, Koscheck is the type of fighter whose style could prove frustrating and cause him to crack.
My belief is that Koscheck will hit at least one takedown and that will be GSP’s downfall.
Oh, and just for the record, I did not bet on GSP at UFC 69 so I’m not a disgruntled gambler. However, I do regret that I didn’t bet against him.
Looks like I have a second chance.