Gambling Spotlight on 'UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck'

I started watching pro wrestling because my dad loved the WWF in the 80s. So, I wasn't exposed to Ric Flair until he made his first run through Stamford in the summer of 1991. Being an idealistic 7-year old kid, I hated him. I hated that he claimed to have a relationship with Miss Elizabeth, I hated that he produced pictorial evidence of the affair. Childhood idealism can only last so long, though. It's been a decade since I followed pro wrestling with anything more than a cursory glance at results, but to this day, I still enjoy firing up Ric Flair clips on Youtube. I love the flops. The blood-soaked, bleach-blonde hair. The ability to draw the ire of any building outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

I, of course, bring up Ric Flair because MMA has its own blond-haired, flopping, natural heel in Josh Koscheck. He's a poor man's version of Ric Flair, but he holds the same place in my heart all the same. Where others see poor sportsmanship in overselling an eyepoke, I see well-played gamesmanship. Where others see a man who bumbles through his trash talk on the Ultimate Fighter, I see...well, I see a guy who bumbles through his trash talk too.

You're an awesome heel, Josh, but you're gonna get smashed tomorrow night. Just find some time for a good old-fashioned Flair Flop for me.

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All photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

Odds courtesy of Best Fight Odds.



Georges St-Pierre

#1 Welterweight
UFC WW Champ


Josh Koshceck

#4 Welterweight

29 Age 33
6'0" Height 5'10"
76" Reach 73"
20 - 2 - 0 Record 15 - 4 - 0
8 / 5 TKO / SUB 4 / 5
Firas Zahabi & Greg Jackson Camp American Kickboxing Acadmey
W - Hardy (UD)
W - Alves (UD)
W - Penn (TKO)

Last 3
W - Daley (UD)
W - Johnson (SUB)
W - Trigg (TKO)

For a long time, I remembered their first fight at UFC 74 being pretty close. I've rewatched the bout a few times over the past couple months, and outside of Koscheck's takedown toward the end of round one, it's incredibly one-sided for St-Pierre. To give you an idea of Koscheck's offensive futility, he racked up the one takedown at a total of 14 strikes landed over the course of fifteen minutes. St-Pierre, meanwhile, landed 118 strikes, completed two takedowns, improved his positions three times on the floor, and attempted five submissions.

The one thing I took away as a positive for Koscheck in that fight is that he did an admirable job of defending himself from the bottom. He moved his hips well, he tried to avoid being flat on his back, and he did his best to control GSP's posture. His ability to do that faded as the fight went on, but he more than held his own when he was fresh.

I just don't see enough of an improvement in Josh's game that makes me think this rematch will unfold any differently than what transpired at UFC 74. I don't think Josh's striking has come as far as he, or others, want to believe. He still throws strikes in a predictable jab-overhand right combo. He still, as Freddie Roach astutely pointed out, jumps in with his strikes from distance. And he still closes his eyes when he engages. He's certainly more comfortable trading on the feet, and he packs a lot of power in his right hand, but he'll be outclassed if he makes this a kickboxing match.

St-Pierre, meanwhile, has made the UFC welterweight division his own personal katamari ball. He absolutely destroyed "number one contender for life" Jon Fitch at UFC 87, knocking Fitch down three times amid a 200-strike assault. Then he shut down Thiago Alves at UFC 100, even after suffering a groin injury sometime in the middle of the fight. He's hardly lost a minute of a fight, let alone a round, since the first dance with Koscheck.

If you want to hang coin on Koscheck, you're relying on a 33-year old athlete entering his 20th pro MMA bout to make larger leaps in technical acumen than that same fighter has made in the three years since his first encounter with the champion. Koscheck absolutely can win this fight with one punch. But that was true for B.J. Penn, too. And Thiago Alves. And Dan Hardy.

If you're a serious bettor who practices proper bankroll management, I think you can make a play here. I don't know if people are overestimating Koscheck or still cling to the "weak chin" line on St-Pierre, but Georges should win this fight well over 80% of the time. If you're not risk-averse, lay five to win one unit on St-Pierre.




Stefan Struve

#25 Heavyweight


Sean McCorkle


22 Age 34
6'11" Height 6'7"
83" Reach unknown
20 - 4 - 0 Record 10 - 0 - 0
4 / 14 TKO / SUB 4 / 5
Team Schreiber Camp C - 4 MMA
W - Morecraft (TKO)
L - Nelson (TKO)
W - Buentello (MD)

Last 3
W - Hunt (SUB)
W - Ivey (TKO)
W - Favors (TKO)

Simply, Sean McCorkle is relatively unknown and especially untested. We know that he can submit Mark Hunt in quick fashion, but Gegard Mousasi did the same thing - and he's a light heavyweight. I've watched three fights of McCorkle: the Hunt-enberg catastrophe and two Legends of Fighting opponents by the name of Johnathon Ivey and Bobby Favors. Let's just say those two won't be fighting Cain Velasquez anytime soon.

While McCorkle is the unknown commodity, we know what we're getting out of Stefan Struve: a 6'11" fighter fighting like a 5'11" fighter. Struve treats his height like an NBA center who refuses to play under the basket. Shorter men like Roy Nelson and Paul Buentello should have no right landing as many punches to Struve's head as they did.

But we don't know anything about McCorkle's striking. If you're confident that McCorkle is at all competent with striking, make a play because Struve is extremely hittable. Otherwise, save your money and enjoy this quality UFC co-main event.



Jim Miller

#12 Lightweight


Charles Oliveira


27 Age 21
5'8" Height 5'10"
71" Reach unknown
18 - 2 - 0 Record 14 - 0 - 0
2 / 10 TKO / SUB 6 / 7
unknown Camp Bronx's Gold Team USA
W - Tibau (UD)
W - Bocek (UD)
W - Ludwig (SUB)
Last 3 W - Escudero (SUB)
W - Elkins (SUB)
W - Bataglia (KO)

The only edge Miller will have in this fight is his offensive wrestling. And I don't mean that to sell Miller short. His wrestling is very good, and he's a very good, tough fighter overall. But Oliveira's is extremely fast on his feet and with his fists, and he has a very good jiu-jitsu game as well.

It's Oliveira's speed and movement that I think will make the difference in this fight. He was able to keep distance from Efrain Escudero and strike from range. He ended up shooting for more takedowns that the wrestler Escudero.

I like a little more than a one-unit play on Oliveira. I think Miller keeps the fight close through the first eight minutes, maybe even gets a couple of takedowns, before he starts to fade and Oliveira puts him away in round three.

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