Many times in the "post-event madness" that comes after a major mixed martial arts card the media and fans fall over themselves looking into the how and why of certain results. Predictably, that is where we're at in the wake of UFC 124 and Georges St. Pierre's dominant victory over Josh Koscheck. The trick here is that there wasn't any secret to why St. Pierre dominated Koscheck. We can, and should, examine the techniques used by the welterweight king but we should not pretend that this was some shocking result that needs deep explanation.
It all comes down to the simple fact that Josh Koscheck's striking is horrible.
Picking up a few impressive knockouts in 2008 and 2009 had pushed the UFC as well as some fans and media members into a position where they talked relentlessly about Koscheck's improved striking. We heard Joe Rogan talk at length during his fights about how Koscheck was now a striker, he loved striking, he had such good boxing, etc. Of course, this ignored how a good striker like Thiago Alves picked him apart and hurt him repeatedly when they met. And the very obvious flaws in Koscheck's striking game were made all the more clear when his poor technique got him knocked out by Paulo Thiago.
Even the three knockouts Koscheck picked up during the 2008-2009 stretch look less impressive now:
- Dustin Hazelett in March of 2008. Since 2008 Hazelett has gone 2-4 with 3 of the losses coming by KO or TKO.
- Yoshiyuki Yoshida in December of 2008. Since 2008 Yoshida has gone 2-4 with 3 of the losses coming by KO or TKO.
- Frank Trigg in September of 2009. Since 2008 Trigg has gone 4-2 with both losses coming by KO.
Koscheck came into the bout with St. Pierre talking about how he was more than a wrestler now and many fell for the "he's got good striking" trick. In reality he still is a great wrestler and does have power if he connects, but his technique is so poor that landing on GSP was going to be extremely hard. Koscheck continually threw sloppy looping overhand rights while St. Pierre ducked under and continued with an onslaught of jabs and the occasional straight right that literally broke Koscheck's face.
The best punch Koscheck landed during the bout was an uppercut as St. Pierre leaned in. He would throw it one more time and when it missed he never went back to it. Josh's corner should have had the awareness to notice that GSP was ducking under the one punch (the overhand right) that Kos kept throwing and told him to fake the overhand and launch the uppercut. Instead they let him continue with his terrible gameplan and get his face badly injured.
The wrestling game was always going to be close to even. Koscheck is technically the better wrestler but GSP applies wrestling to MMA incredibly well, he'd won the wrestling exchanges in the first bout because Josh didn't believe he'd get taken down. But on the feet this fight was never going to be anything close to competitive.
Hopefully this bout serves to remind those that follow MMA that knockouts don't make a striker.