The UFC closed out 2010 with a stacked card that ended up drawing one of the largest crowds of all time and will probably end up doing around one million PPV buys. Everyone who watched UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 likely found themselves pretty satisfied at the end of the night, especially if they tuned in to see the villain served justice for his months of wrong doing. Not only was justice served in the main event but the night also included a good comeback, a slick submission, a shocking KO, and a great scrap. Montreal fans are used to seeing a well-rounded hockey team and this past Saturday night they got a well-rounded MMA event.
Georges St. Pierre defeated Josh Koscheck by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to retain the UFC Welterweight Title
Leading up to this event, Josh Koscheck landed a lot of verbal jabs on Georges St. Pierre. During this event, St. Pierre landed a lot of punching jabs on Koscheck. One technique earns you a good laugh. The other technique earns you victories. Because I like to give credit where it’s due, I stole that open from fellow 5OZ writer Bren Conlan.
A lot of people say that the jab is the most underutilized technique in MMA. Being a student of the game and having a mission to be the best fighter in MMA, St. Pierre decided to take the most underutilized technique and turn it into his most effective weapon. From 25 minutes, St. Pierre jabbed Koscheck in the right eye to the point where Koscheck’s eye was so badly swollen and hurt that he pulled away when his corner tried to put ice on it. When St. Pierre wasn’t jabbing, he was throwing leg kicks to take away some of the spring in Koscheck’s step. St. Pierre tried a couple of takedowns and succeed on a few but if Koscheck didn’t stuff them, he was quickly up to his feet. Koscheck even managed a late takedown in the first round but there wasn’t enough time for him to do anything. Every other time Koscheck went for a takedown, St. Pierre easily side stepped before Koscheck could even get ahold of him. The wrestling was kept to a minimum though as St. Pierre was content on keeping things standing a jabbing away. Koscheck not only had no answer for the jab but he had no offense of his own. He tried to look for his winging right hand but knowing that was his only offensive weapon, St. Pierre kept his left arm high and blocked it or easily avoided it. While he couldn’t finish Koscheck, and maybe it was due to a lack of trying, St. Pierre easily cruised to another dominant title defense and a decision victory.
Koscheck got what he wanted in this fight. He wanted St. Pierre to stand with him and that’s what happened. Sometimes people should be careful for what they wish for. Everyone talks about Koscheck’s improved stand up, and it is improved from what it was on The Ultimate Fighter 1, where he had virtually no stand up, but it hasn’t improved past a winging right hand. He actually landed a good right uppercut to combat the high guard of St. Pierre but then went away from it. Besides his predictable right hand, he also doesn’t know how to put his striking and wrestling together. Koscheck can be a very dangerous fighter if continues to improve. No one has been able to stuff St. Pierre’s takedowns like he did and if he had more than his right hand, who knows what would have happened. Koscheck is still a top welterweight, which really just show how far above St. Pierre is compared to everyone else.
St. Pierre is the most complete fighter in all of MMA. He was already a very good striker, which for some reason fighters seem to forget because he’s been out-wrestling everyone, but now he’s added a jab to his arsenal. The most amazing thing about St. Pierre is that he’s never happy with his performances and he always wants to improve. I’m sure people will criticize him for lacking a killer instinct, and maybe that’s true, but give credit to St. Pierre opponents for surviving. Even though St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva is the fight everyone wants, Silva first has to get through Vitor Belfort and I’m pretty sure St. Pierre will have to get through Jake Shields just because Dana White promised him a title shot and if there is one thing we all know about Dana, it’s that he’s a man of his word.
Predicted Next Fights: St. Pierre vs. Shields – Koscheck vs. Rick Story
Stefan Struve defeated Sean McCorkle by TKO (Strikes) at 3:55 in Round One
Stefan Struve and Sean McCorkle did a lot of trash talking on the internet leading up to the fight and at the end of the night, only one backed it up.
McCorkle started strong by landing a big takedown and trying to lock up a kimura but Struve stayed composed and managed to survive. McCorkle stayed on top and landed some good punches and elbows but he ended up gassing a bit, eating a hammerfist from the bottom that he didn’t seem to like, and then was swept over with a sit up sweep and right into mount by Struve. On top, Struve rained down a flurry of punches and elbows that forced the referee to jump in and stop the fight. You could argue that it was a bit premature but it seemed clear to me that McCorkle wasn’t going anywhere and there was a lot of time left in the round. Plus McCorkle didn’t jump up and protest, which is always the tell tale sign of whether or not a fighter believes a fight was stopped too early. So if McCorkle had no problem with the stoppage, neither should you.
Was McCorkle vaulted up the ladder too quickly? Perhaps but that’s not really his fault. If this were the first fight on the main card instead of the co-main event, people would be saying that McCorkle is just another heavyweight in the middle of the pack, but because this was the co-main event, people are writing off McCorkle as being terrible. For now, the jury is out on McCorkle. I’m sure he’ll be given someone who is more on his level in his next fight and that’s when we’ll find out if McCorkle can fight or if he’s better off spending his time on The Underground trying to troll keyboard warriors.
Win or lose, you can always count on Struve to bring the excitement. Even if you don’t believe that McCorkle is very good, good fighters should finish fighters that are considered below their level and that’s exactly what Struve did. He still has his problems on the ground defensively and seems a little too content to just get punched in the face but he’s still very young, already has a lot of experience in the UFC, and will continue to improve. I’d like to see him face someone who is considered to be on his level but given the high profile nature of this victory, it wouldn’t shock me to see him thrust into a big fight.
Predicted Next Fights: Struve vs. Mitrione/Hauge winner – McCorkle vs. Rob Broughton
Jim Miller defeated Charles Oliveira by Submission (Knee Bar) at 1:59 in Round One
Despite his record and accolades, for some reason Jim Miller was the underdog against up and comer Charles Oliveira. Not one to complain, Miller just handled his business as usual.
Oliviera came out like a house on fire in the fight. He was throwing head kicks that seemed to catch Miller but didn’t have much effect on him. Despite his success on the feet, Oliveira once again tried to stay unpredictable and try a takedown, which Miller easily stuffed. Miller turned things around and put Oliveira on his back but that didn’t stop Oliveira from working. He went for about five different submissions in the span of 30 seconds but Miller stuffed all of them. Oliveira eventually settled for a heel hook but Miller countered with a heel hook of his own. Oliveira seemed relaxed, punched the body, and then Miller turned things into a knee bar, which led to Oliveira immediately tapping out. Just another day at the office for Mr. Miller.
This was a learning experience for Oliveira. He looked outstanding in all positions and then he relaxed a little too much and got caught. There is no shame in losing to someone like Miller and I expect Oliveira to come back strong. One thing about Oliveira is that he is a bit undersized in the lightweight division. He doesn’t have much muscle to lose and he could end up looking like Dustin Hazelett if he drops down to featherweight but until he grows into his frame and puts on his “big boy weight” then he’s going to continue to be small for the division.
It’s finally time for Miller to face a top lightweight. His only two career losses are to Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard and last I checked, they’re both pretty good lightweights. Fellow 5OZ writer Adam Tool suggested that Miller step in and face Evan Dunham at the upcoming Fight for the Troops 2 event or face George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127. Both make sense but the latter suggestion is the way to go simply because Dunham vs. Melvin Guillard is already being promoted while Sotiropoulos vs. Denis Siver hasn’t been made official and could easily be switched. If UFC isn’t willing to switch things up then I’d hope that Miller would get the winner of the upcoming fight between Takanori Gomi and Clay Guida.
Predicted Next Fights: Miller vs. Sotiropoulos – Oliveira vs. Varner/Roller winner
Mac Danzig defeated Joe Stevenson by KO (Counter Left Hook) at 1:54 in Round One
Coming into this fight, Mac Danzig and Joe Stevenson had their backs against the wall. They both came out swinging but only one stood standing at the end of the night.
Both men looked rather comfortable on the feet, especially Danzig. Stevenson was looking for his patented lead left hook and trying to follow it up with an overhand right while Danzig was staying patient and countering. Stevenson landed a solid right hand that seemed to stumble Danzig but didn’t follow up well. Then Stevenson came in with his left hand, Danzig slipped it, landed a beautiful straight left as he was fading back, and Stevenson fall face first and out cold. You’ve never seen someone so happy to win a fight. After the KO, you’ve never seen someone so happy and emotional as Danzig was.
I don’t know what to make of Stevenson following this performance. If you listened to Greg Jackson screaming in his corner, you could hear, “follow the game game plan” and “take him down.” Assuming that the game plan was to takedown Danzig, Stevenson failed. He fell in love with his striking, which is very predictable, and Danzig was able to counter him. This was really a fight that Stevenson should have won and he didn’t. Dana White confirmed that he wouldn’t be released, which I suspected given Dana’s love for early Ultimate Fighter winners but it’s win or find a new job for Stevenson in his next fight.
This was a huge win for Danzig. It’s tough to tell just how much he’s improved given the quick nature of the fight but he talked all week about how comfortable he was and he showed it in this fight. I’m still not fully sold on Danzig just based on his UFC track record but maybe this victory will get his confidence up and skyrocket him in the lightweight division. He’ll probably get a tough test in his next fight based on this victory and it will be interesting to see how he does.
Predicted Next Fights: Danzig vs. Cerrone/Horodecki winner – Stevenson vs. Andre Winner
Thiago Alves defeated John Howard by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
When Thiago Alves promised that we would see the best Alves ever against John Howard, unlike a lot of fighters, he wasn’t lying.
Alves was on point in this fight. Everyone knew that Howard had the power to KO Alves but if Alves stayed within himself and stayed discipline, he could win the fight. That’s exactly what he did. While Howard was throwing bombing hooks, Alves was slipping and throwing powerful straight counter punches. On top of that, he continued to display some of the best leg kicks in all of MMA. Very rarely did he throw a leg kick with no set up either. Beyond his striking game, Alves was able to stuff a couple of takedown and land two takedowns of his own. While he didn’t do too much damage against Howard on the ground, the takedowns were still huge, not only in this fight, but for his future. It gave Howard something else to think about in the cage and allowed Alves to keep Howard off balance. Howard tried to answer back with some leg kicks of his own but he didn’t have the same pop in his kicks that Alves had. Again, the story of this fight was Alves and his technical superiority. He was slipping strikes, covering well, countering at every chance, not getting into any wild brawls, and really showing why so many people consider him the best striker in the welterweight division. Above all else though, Alves looked focus. He was in tremendous shape and when every round ended, he elected to pace rather than take the stool. Although he didn’t finish Howard, Alves was on the right side of a one-sided decision.
Howard didn’t look particularly bad in this fight, he was just out classed by the superior striker. He needs to throw more straight punches and work on his takedown defense but he’s still a guy who has one punch power and a rather underrated ground game. He can make fights exciting and has the potential to score an upset or two but until he stop head hunting so much and starts putting his all around game together, he’s just going to be another guy in the division. With two straight losses, it’s not out of the question that he could be released but given who he’s lost to and how much heart he’s shown in both his losses, I’m fairly positive that he’ll be around for at least one more fight. He and Anthony Johnson have been doing a lot of trash talking back and fourth ever since they were scheduled to fight at UFC on VS. 2 so hopefully UFC revisits that fight.
This was the Alves that fans fell in love with. Now that he’s seemingly corrected his weight cutting problems and even added a couple new dimensions to his game, he’s going to be a tough draw for anyone in the division. He’s still going to have his problems with high level wrestlers but the more time he has to improve his takedown defense, the scarier he’s going to be. Now Alves needs the chance to prove he’s still a top welterweight with a tough match up. With Jake Ellenberger needing an opponent following UFC pulling the ol’ switcharoo on him, he seems like the perfect guy to challenge Alves. Ellenberger is strong wrestler with power in his hands who has been very impressive thus far in his UFC run and he’s someone who can challenge Alves in all areas.
Predicted Next Fight: Alves vs. Ellenberger – Howard vs. Johnson
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC