St. Pierre dominates at home
Report by Brady Crytzer
Photos courtesy of Josh Hedges, UFC
In the main event of UFC 124, world welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre soundly defeated challenger Josh Koscheck via a dominant unanimous decision.
Following months of one-sided trash talking and an entire season of The Ultimate Fighter, the largest crowd in UFC history filled the Bell Centre in Montreal watch its favorite son defend his world welterweight title against his vocal arch nemesis. Koscheck, who has been anything but quiet about his use of verbal jabs to mentally break his opponent, was certainly in enemy territory when he walked to the Octagon Saturday night.
For the champion St. Pierre it felt as though he was fighting alongside 23,000 of his closest friends.
With all history and favoritism aside, when the cage door closed there were only two, and only one would leave with the UFC welterweight championship.
Most pundits expected St. Pierre to take his opponent to the mat, and after a stiff jab and head fake he did exactly that. As a credit to the challenger’s wrestling, Koscheck stood up almost immediately. On the feet the champion began to find his range and land with a long range, but crisp, right hand. The takedown defense of Koscheck began to reveal itself as worthy of his NCAA national championship, but the former TUF standout had no answer for the boxing of St. Pierre. As the final minute of the round began, Koscheck worked hard for a takedown and took the champion to the mat as time expired.
A swollen Koscheck met St. Pierre in the center of the cage and began to east more stiff straight punches. Following a partially blocked head kick, the fight appeared to be firmly in the hands of the champion. Unfortunately for the challenger, his right eye had begun to close. St. Pierre punctuated the round with a hard right at the horn.
St. Pierre looked remarkably fresh in round three and, after landing some stinging legs kicks, he shot in unsuccessfully for a takedown. For nearly two minutes, the fighters jockeyed for position against the cage with the champion controlling throughout. After some brief exchanges, the clinch battle resumed. At the :30 mark, Koscheck missed a takedown by a large margin and, after absorbing more punishment, walked to his corner with his head down.
Round four began in spectacular fashion as St. Pierre slammed his opponent to the mat and took his back. In an impressive scramble, Koscheck escaped and nearly secured an kneebar. The stanza ended with the men clinching against the fence. St. Pierre began to pepper Koscheck in the center of the cage as the round came to a close, the a new counter left hook hurt the challenger badly on multiple occasions.
Koscheck started the final round by letting his fists fly but found little success. The champion opened up as well midway through the period with more stiff jabs and staggered his opponent many times with follow up power shots. With only ninety seconds left, the champion scored a takedown and slammed Koscheck to the mat. As the fight came to an end, St. Pierre scored with combinations of punches and kicks.
The decision was never in question, and the judges made it official:
50-45 St. Pierre
50-45 St. Pierre
50-45 St. Pierre
Struve Ends Keyboard War, TKO’s McCorkle
In the co-main event of the evening 6’11 Stefan Struve defeated 6’7 Sean McCorkle via TKO at 3:55 of the opening period.
Hype was high for the massive heavyweight showdown as the two fighters combined to set a new record for the tallest fight in UFC history. Add in a dash of internet trash talking and the bad blood was sure to boil over.
Despite the fact that Struve was able to tag McCorkle early with a right cross, the close quarters allowed the powerful McCorkle to hoist his opponent into the air and slam him to the mat. Once on the ground, McCorkle assumed side control and clamped on a dangerously tight kimura shoulder lock. Struve, known for his muay thai, was able to escape the hold and worked his way to a defensive guard position. Firmly on top, McCorkle began to rain down hard punches and was nearly caught in an armbar from the bottom.
In a tremendous display of jiu jitsu improvement, Struve quickly swept McCorkle onto his back and landed directly in the mount position. With momentum on his side Struve hammered his opponent with blasting punches until the fight was stopped at 3:55.
Veteran Miller Submits Highly Touted Prospect Oliveira
In a crossroads lightweight bout savvy veteran Jim Miller put a stop to the momentum of his previously unbeaten opponent Charles Oliveira just 1:59 into the first round with a tight kneebar.
Miller wasted no time putting his younger opponent on his back and instituting his sound wrestling gameplan. Though put on the mat with force, Oliveira began to instantly threaten with armbars and triangles. Miller struggled with the offensive attack of the Brazilian, and, when it appeared as though he would be caught in a scramble, dropped for a submission of his own.
Miller instantly snatched the leg of his inexperienced opponent and wrenched with authority forcing Oliveira to tap at 1:59 of the first period. Miller makes it six in a row with this tremendous victory.
Danzig KO’s Stevenson, Secures Fighting Future
In a lightweight contest of former TUF champions, Mac Danzig scored a spectacular one punch knockout over Joe “Daddy” Stevenson just 1:54 into round one.
Though both men are renowned for their wrestling prowess, the fighters spent the early part of round one exchanging ineffective jabs and battling for the center of the cage. As Stevenson began to find his range, the former TUF 2 winner pressed his opponent with hard overhand rights. Danzig, who appeared content to counterpunch, backpedaled away from the blows and retained his composure.
In a flash, as Joe “Daddy” moved forward again, Danzig exhibited an uncharacteristic striking awareness and placed a left hook perfectly on the chin of his opponent. Stevenson fell flat on his face instantly and the fight was waived off giving Danzig the knockout victory.
Undercard Results: Alves Impresses, Bocek Dazzles with Submission Win
In what could have been his most impressive victory yet, former welterweight contender Thiago “Pitbull” Alves used piercing leg kicks and unending pressure to earn a unanimous decision over fellow banger John “Doomsday” Howard. Scores all read the same, 30-27.
In a battle of middleweight veterans Dan Miller earned a workman-like split decision over Canadian Joe Doerksen. Scorecards read 29-28 twice in favor or Miller and 29-28 once in favor of Doerksen.
Lightweight Mark Bocek scored the biggest win of his promising UFC career by submitting for welterweight standout Dustin Hazlett with an armbar just 2:33 into the first round.
Following a competitive contest and some confusion, it was announced that Jesse Bongfeldt and Rafael Natal battled to a majority draw. Scorecards read 28-28 on two occasions and 29-28 once in favor of Natal.
In an exciting striking contest Sean Pierson defeated former TUF star Matt Riddle via unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout the same, 30-27.
Middleweight jiu jitsu black belt Ricardo Almeida easily outpointed TJ Grant over three measured rounds. Scorecards all read the same, 30-27, in favor of the Brazilian.