St Pierre wanted knock out at UFC 124
After dominating Josh Koscheck with a diverse attack for five rounds, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre was not completely satisfied.
"I wanted to take him out," said St. Pierre, who exhibited sharp boxing for 25 minutes and methodically picked the challenger apart. "I closed his right eye, so I was going a lot with the hooks and the high leg kick to knock him out."
Leading into this fight, St. Pierre was heavily criticized for being too reliant on his wrestling pedigree and controlling opponents with takedowns. However, his versatility was on display in Montreal as the champion decisively outstruck Koscheck with a tactical standup assault, landing nearly five times as many strikes.
"My strategy is always to do what my opponent doesn't expect," he said. "In the first fight, I beat him with wrestling because he wasn't expecting it. Tonight, I beat him with boxing."
St. Pierre epitomized a true mixed martial artist as he utilized an assortment of punches, kicks, elbows and takedowns to batter Koscheck in front of 23,152 vocal supporters at the Bell Centre. The partisan crowd set a North American MMA attendance record and drew a $4.6 million gate.
St. Pierre, who was eager to knock Koscheck out, admitted it was a much tougher challenge than he expected.
"It was a good fight, but I wanted to finish him," said the French-Canadian star. "That was my goal and I did not reach my goal."
A perfectionist of his craft, St. Pierre's surgical gameplanning led him to his 21st career victory.
"My game doesn't rely on chance," he said. "I don't gamble when I fight. I try to put all the odds on my side. When I fight, I try to stay disciplined to my gameplan."
After months of build-up as coaches on this past season of "The Ultimate Fighter," St. Pierre was visibly fired up, more so than usual, in the days leading up to his rematch with Koscheck. But he admits the trash talk was a way of garnering hype for the fight.
"At the end of the night, it's only a fight," St. Pierre said. "I need Josh Koscheck to do what I do for a living. It's nothing personal. At the end of the day, it's business."
In a sign of mutual respect, St. Pierre and Koscheck embraced after their 25-minute battle.
"He had a great gameplan and executed it very well," Koscheck said. "It shows why he's the pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter in the world."
Despite St. Pierre's continued dominance of the 170-pound class, UFC president Dana White disagrees with Koscheck's assessment as he still ranks middleweight juggernaut Anderson Silva atop his pound-for-pound list.
What's next for St. Pierre?
In the aftermath of another successful welterweight title defense, questions have resurfaced about St. Pierre moving up in weight for a superfight against the Brazilian.
"This question is a little bit complicated," St. Pierre said. "If I go up to 185, I need to put muscle on my body. If I go up, I'm going to have to stay at 185. I don't want to go up and down. To play with your weight, you need to be careful with that. We'll see. I just finished the fight. I haven't thought about it yet."
St. Pierre's next test in the octagon will likely be against former Strikeforce, EliteXC, Rumble on the Rock and Shooto titleholder Jake Shields, who defeated Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut this past October.
"I like watching Jake Shields fight," St. Pierre said. "He's a very meticulous fighter. He's a very technical guy. He's a brilliant submission artist. He's one of the guys I like the most to see fight. He's amazing. I heard people criticized his performance, but he's probably the No. 1 contender right now for my title and someone I need to keep my eye on because he's a very good fighter."
A clash between St. Pierre and Shields could come to fruition at the UFC's historic April 30 event at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. St. Pierre expressed interest about competing on the card, though White would not yet confirm a possible date or location for the champion's next octagon appearance.
St. Pierre's combination of aggressive wrestling, excellent defense and precise striking does not fare well for Shields, who may be the last man on the list of possible welterweight title challengers before St. Pierre must seriously consider a move up. But St. Pierre isn't looking past any opponent, knowing very well that a single loss can overshadow his myriad career accomplishments. What makes the champion particularly dangerous is his dedication to the game and obsession with improvement.
"I'll be back training in maybe two, three days," he said.
For UFC 124, White gave fans the opportunity to vote on the "Fight of the Night." St. Pierre and Koscheck both pocketed $100,000 for the honors, though White later admitted he would have personally given the bonus to undercard fighters Sean Pierson and Matt Riddle.
"Those guys will get taken care of," he said.
Other UFC 124 action
Highly regarded Dutch heavyweight Stefan Struve was victorious in the co-headliner against previously undefeated Sean McCorkle. Struve said the fight was easier than expected and he was happy to come away from it unscathed.
"It's good to keep my face intact for once," Struve said. "My last three or four fights were wars. I got a couple of new scars from that."
Mac Danzig pocketed $100,000 for "Knockout of the Night" as he starched Joe Stevenson, a fellow former winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show.
"I don't feel I can relax," said Danzig, who needed just one minute and 54 seconds to dispose of Stevenson. "Regardless of whether you're coming off a six-win winning streak or if you have a couple of losses, you might be on shaky ground. You've got to go out there if you're a fighter. That's what you do for a living. You're a professional. You still have to go out there and fight to win. It's like 100 percent every time."
White said Stevenson will likely stick around despite suffering his third consecutive setback in the UFC, which often translates to a dismissal from the organization.
"Joe Stevenson has had a bad run, but it's just so tough to cut a guy that comes in and does what he's supposed to do," White said. "He's one of those guys. He got knocked out trying to knock [Danzig] out tonight. That's what happened."
The "Submission of the Night" bonus was split among Jim Miller and Mark Bocek. They made quick work of Charles Oliveira and Dustin Hazelett, respectively. Both lightweights earned $50,000 for impressive first-round finishes of fellow submission specialists.
The Canadian Bocek has issued a challenge to fast-rising BJJ standout George Sotiropoulos, but the Australian contender is already booked to fight Denis Siver at UFC 127 on Feb. 27 in Australia. After catching Hazelett in a deep triangle choke, Bocek has declared that his BJJ is the best in the 155-pound division.
Miller, who garnered his sixth straight UFC win, hopes to finally get noticed as he feels he didn't get the respect he deserved leading into his bout with Oliveira, which he finished with a kneebar.
"It does eat at me a little bit. It does bother me," said Miller, whose lone setbacks are decisions to No. 1 and No. 2 lightweights Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, the two men fighting for the title at UFC 125 on Jan. 1.
"I want revenge. I want to beat those guys. Even though Frankie and I are friends, it was fun when we fought the last time. It will be fun the second time."