UFC 124: Georges St. Pierre Is Afraid of Josh Koscheck

GSP and Koscheck have locked eyes and locked arms before. Photo by Scott Petersen for MMA Weekly.

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear..." H.P. Lovecraft

"Total paranoia is just total awareness." Charles Manson

It's hard for most of us to imagine how frightening it must be to be locked in the Octagon opposite a highly trained martial artist bent on doing you grave personal harm. On television, with everyone watching, including your mother, wife and children.

As UFC fans we take it for granted that the kind of courage necessary to overcome that fear and still perform is a given, a minimum standard expected from even the least impressive fighter. 

But let's not forget that fear is never truly overcome. It can be buried, hidden away and ignored. That's the approach taken by most of the "brave". Just do it. Don't look down, jump.

But the advanced practicioners are able to marshal their fears. That's what UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre tells ESPN's Franklin McNeil anyway:

"I don't hide that I'm nervous, that I'm scared," St. Pierre told ESPN.com. "But I'm at my best when I have that feeling. I embrace it.
...
"Josh Koscheck doesn't embrace it," St. Pierre said. "He's not like me.
...
"From the outside, [Koscheck] wants to look like a bully, like a guy who can bully me around," St. Pierre said. "But inside, he is very worried. He's very insecure about himself.

"That's why he acts like this. He tries to insult me, to make me worry. But in reality, he's the one who's worried; he's the one who's nervous too."

GSP is also very clear that he understands the purpose of Koscheck's attempts to anger him and he's determined to avoid that trap:

"I don't fight with my anger; I fight with my art," St. Pierre said. "If you fight with your anger sometimes you make mistakes, and that's exactly what Josh Koscheck wants me to do.

"He knows he can't match my skills, so he's trying to distract me by saying those things and hope that I make a mistake. I'm not going to fall into that game."

For his part Koscheck isn't openly embracing his fear, but he is channeling his life experiences and trying to feed off the adversarial energy of the pro-GSP crowd. As Koscheck said on the UFC 124 Countdown special, "He's going to go to sleep. And you're gonna see 22,000 French-Canadians in the stands go from chanting 'GSP' to absolute silence."

We'll find out Saturday which amateur psychologist is channeling the stronger forces. After all, it was former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia who said, "Half of this game is 90% mental."

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