On Saturday night, Georges St. Pierre demonstrated why he is the smartest fighter on the planet. Josh Koscheck was referred to as a "knockout artist" by the broadcast team what seemed to be 17 or 18 times. Since his last contest with St. Pierre, Koscheck has compiled TKO victories over Dustin Hazelett, Frank Trigg and a highlight reel knockout over Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Leland Rolling over on Bloody Elbow spoke on Koscheckt's hands being an equalizer in a match in which the champion was the unquestioned favorite:
Can Koscheck legitimately threaten St. Pierre's reign at the top of the division? I think he can, but the safe bet in this matchup is Georges St. Pierre. His skill-set should give him the advantage in all areas of this showdown, but Koscheck has the all-mighty "unpredictability" factor in his powerful hands.
Early on, it appeared St. Pierre agreed with Leland. He scored a quick takedown on the challenger but Koscheck was back on his feet in his flash. Regardless of the outcome, I am inclined to agree with what "Samoan Submission Machine" Samoa Joe said when he tweeted his assessment of Kos' ability to stuff GSP's takedowns early and often. Joe is a professional wrestler who has trained in Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing and Judo for years:
I'll give Koscheck credit as well. We were told his wrestling would be much improved; it was even alleged that his wrestling might be superior to St. Pierre's. GSP confirmed Koscheck's preparedness during the first round of the fight and then showed the world that he had game-planned for it.
This goes to the heart of why I believe Georges St. Pierre is the best fighter in the world. His preparation is unmatched. His mental acuity is unparalleled. Dana White believes that Anderson Silva is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Dana might be right; the Spider hasn't lost since entering the Octagon, and he owns two wins in the light heavyweight division. My argument to the contrary: I believe Anderson Silva is more like the NBA's LeBron James, while GSP mirrors Kobe Bryant.
If that statement is isolated, it sounds a little asinine. Silva is a champion and James is not. Silva has not lost a fight since 2006 while LeBron loses in the playoffs every year without fail. I draw the comparison because of St. Pierre's preparation and his response to adversity. In the middle of his career, Kobe Bryant was at a crossroads. Shaquille O'Neal was gone, the Lakers' dynasty was broken up and Bryant was at an impasse. I liken that to St. Pierre in his loss to Matt Serra. Bryant had to change his game to adjust. He had to work on his post moves, become a facilitator and know when to use his remarkable talents to take over a game and when to defer to teammates.
Since he lost to Serra, Georges St. Pierre had dominated. He retrieved his belt, got revenge on Serra and dominated a fighter many believed was the best in the world at the time in BJ Penn. GSP gave us knockouts, submissions and wrestling clinics. He had a the perfect game plan drawn up for each man he faced. That extended to the unbelievable boxing display we witnessed on Saturday. Josh Koscheck was out-struck 136 to 30 according to Fight Metric. Poor Josh's eyeball was trying to parachute out of his head by the end of the night. In essence, the champion was prepared for the challenger's preparation.
I don't want to minimize Anderson Silva, but he reminds me a lot of James. A freakishly talented athlete whose talent dwarfs most people he competes with. Silva's length and quickness make him a near-impossible matchup for most fighters. The same can be said of LeBron on the court. A power forward's physique with point guard's handle. The problem is, I have seen James give up and act like a petulant child. The Spider has never given up, but he gassed against Demian Maia, was dominated by Chael Sonnen and didn't show up at all against Thales Leites. I can't see Georges St. Pierre EVER doing any of those things. I can't see Kobe Bryant not showing up against the Celtics. You get where I am headed.
If Silva and St. Pierre eventually DO square off, the unquestioned winner will be the fans of mixed martial arts. Silva will be the favored due to his size and amazing abilities. The reason I will pick the smaller man in that contest is the same reason I picked him last night. I am positive "Rush" will be prepared for every single weapon The Spider will throw at him. I am positive he will bring his A game. Can we ever be positive Anderson Silva will do the same?