Event Preview – UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 – December 11, 2010 – Montreal, Quebec, CA
The UFC Welterweight Championship is up for grabs on Saturday, December 11th in Montreal, CA as Georges St. Pierre looks to defend his belt for the fifth straight time since defeating Matt Serra in April of 2008. This time, at UFC 124, the challenger looking to upset the champion and perhaps the most dominant force in the sport will be none other than the villainous Josh Koscheck, who happens to be coaching against the popular Canadian in the twelve season of the popular Spike TV reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.
There has been a lot of talk on the aforementioned television show prior to this matchup, mostly from the challenger’s side as AKA’s Koscheck has labored to get beneath GSP’s cool exterior and ruffle his feathers prior to this bout. Recently, Koscheck was quoting as saying St. Pierre “has quit in him,” citing prior defeats to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra as testimony. St. Pierre has not said as much, but has been training with top coaches, even going so far as to travel to the Philippines to train a few days with acclaimed boxing coach Freddie Roach and pound-for-pound top boxer Manny Pacquiao. Labeled “Most Dangerous Man of the Year 2010” in the Spike Awards and 2009 Fighter of the Year by a plethora of organizations including MMAPayout, Sports Illustrated, Inside MMA on HDNet, and MMA Junkie, Georges St. Pierre will be as daunting a challenge as ever for the resurgent Josh Koscheck this time around.
The main event undercard for UFC 124 features several interesting matchups that should line up future contenders in several divisions. Most notably, fighter Charles “Da Bronx” Oliviera, Joe Stevenson, and Thiago Alves are looking to notch several key wins in order to progress up the rankings. Likewise on the untelevised undercard, upstart fighters new and veteran to the UFC are also looking to make waves or rebound from tough losses in order to stay in the organization. With the recent cut of Gerald Harris after a lone loss to a debuting Maiquel “Big Rig” Falcao, fighters are definitely on notice in terms of an increased standard of performance demanded by the UFC. In this event, that holds most true for Ricardo Almeida, Pat Audinwood, Mark Bocek, Dustin Hazelett, and Joe Doerksen, who are all heading into their respective bouts coming off losses.
In any case, check out my prognostications for UFC 124. Predictions are always fun, mostly subjective, and rarely accurate sofeel free to chime in via the comments section of this point to let the world know whether you agree or disagree!
UFC Welterweight Championship – Georges St. Pierre (19-2) versus Josh Koscheck (15-4)
Hero versus villain would be the most apt way to describe this bout, particularly because of Koscheck’s ability to play the reviled heel role opposite GSP – a beloved fan favorite, especially in this venue, his hometown. For those that don’t know, these two actually fought before, with St. Pierre neutralizing Koscheck’s wrestling ability and taking him down in his own way en route to a unanimous decision. The key question is: who has improved the most since that day in August 2007? While Josh’s approach has gotten slightly better-rounded, St. Pierre has been absolutely dominant since that time. And as I’ve said before, this is the fifth defense for the champion and one he won’t lose.
Prediction: Georges St. Pierre via unanimous decision.
Heavyweight (265lbs) – Stefan Struve (20-4) versus Sean McCorkle (10)
This will be a battle of skyscrapers as the seven-foot-tall Flying Dutchman Stefan Struve takes on Underground cult sensation Sean “Big Sexy” McCorkle. With twenty-four fights to his credit, it is shocking and often forgotten that Struve is only twenty-two years old. As a stark contrast, the thirty-eight year old McCorkle is 10-0 but entered the sport later on in his life. The cage may move in this one and its going to come down to whether McCorkle can impose his size en mass on the taller, and more well-rounded, Struve. If he can’t, then I look for the Dutchman to pick “Big Sexy” apart with superior kickboxing.
Prediction: Stefan Struve via knockout.
Lightweight (155lbs) – Charles Oliveira (14-0) versus Jim Miller (17-2)
By all accounts, Charles “da Bronx” Oliveira is next in a long-line of supposed Brazilian phenoms. His UFC debut was an absolute annihilation of former TUF winner Efrain Escudero, who was never able to get anything going en route to being submitted by the big-time Brazilian. Oliviera will face another tough wrestler this time around in New Jersey’s Jim Miller, a workman-like fighter with a well-rounded approach to the game. Reeling off five consecutive wins since losing to number-one division contender Gray Maynard via decision, Miller will undoubtedly be the biggest test for the upstart Brazilian Bronx’s career. Tough fight to call since Oliviera entered the UFC in such impressive fashion and remains undefeated. Miller has two losses himself but they were to Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, who just happen to be fighting soon for the 155 title.
Prediction: Jim Miller via decision.
Lightweight (155lbs) – Joe Stevenson (31-11) versus Mac Danzig (20-7-1)
This is a definitive candidate for a “loser leaves town” match as these two guys are a combined 6-8 in their last seven fights and are coming off losses. These are hard times for two guys who were once considered the future of the 155 class. The winner in this bout should get a lifeline but may want to consider dropping down to 145 to rejuvenate their career if that’s a conceivable option.
Prediction: Joe Stevenson via submission.
Welterweight (170lbs) – Thiago Alves (14-5) versus John Howard (14-5)
Hopefully Thiago Alves has accustomed himself to the weight cut this time around as he had some trouble shedding the pounds to get to the 170 welterweight limit in his last fight against Jon Fitch. “The Pitbull” Alves is coming off two consecutive losses but they were against Fitch and division kingpin, St. Pierre. A win here could put him right back in the thick of contention while a loss would relegate the ATT-product to mid-card status. His opponent, John “Doomsday” Howard is coming off a TKO (Doctor Stoppage) loss to Jake Ellenberger after winning seven straight bouts. Certainly a lot riding on this one for both fighters as they vie for life in the welterweight ranks.
Prediction: Thiago Alves via technical knockout.
PRELIMINARY CARD – QUICK PICKS
Lightweight (155lbs) – Mark Bocek (9-2) versus Dustin Hazelett (11-6)
Prediction: Dustin Hazelett via submission.
Welterweight (170lbs) – Matthew Riddle (5-1) versus Sean Pierson (10-4)
Prediction: Matthew Riddle via decision.
Note: Sean Pierson replaces injured Texan – TJ Waldburger.
Middleweight (185lbs) – Dan Miller (12-4) versus Joe Doerksen (46-13)
Prediction: Dan Miller via submission.
Welterweight (170lbs) – T.J. Grant (16-4) versus Ricardo Almeida (12-4)
Prediction: Ricardo “Cachorrao” Almeida via submission.
Middleweight (185lbs) – Jesse Bongfeldt (21-7) versus Rafael “Sapo” Natal (12-3)
Prediction: Rafael Natal via submission.
Lightweight (155lbs) – Pat Audinwood (9-1-1) versus John Makdessi (7-0)
Prediction: Pat “Awesomely Awesome” Audinwood via vastly superior nickname.