The devious smile on Josh Koscheck's face following his victory over British striker Paul Daley said it all on Saturday night at UFC 113. Surrounded by a hostile Montreal crowd with the presence of their champion, Georges St. Pierre, sitting ringside, Koscheck pitched a shut out. With dominating wrestling and smart tactics, Koscheck was able to continually put Daley into the fence, secure a hold, and dump him to the floor at will -- effectively nullifying any chance of Daley unleashing a barrage of blows.
Daley's only successes during the three-round battle were in his abilities to escape from the positions that Koscheck put him in. He was able to use his powerful legs to buck Koscheck multiple times, and his transitions back to half guard did help him survive on the floor. Unfortunately, Daley had absolutely no answer for Koscheck's ability to take him down, and it took Daley lengthy amounts of time to position himself for an escape. It was a smart gameplan for Koscheck to avoid Daley's primary offensive weapons, and it worked beautifully.
Unfortunately, much of the focus has been on Koscheck's "acting" job and Daley's "shot" that kicked him out of the UFC. While I would call the reaction by Dana White to Daley's cheap shot to Josh Koscheck admirable, I'm a bit dumbfounded by the reaction to Koscheck's "acting" job. Deceiving... sure, despicable... give me a break. While Koscheck managed to gain a little extra recovery time from the knee and a possible point deduction, referee Dan Miragliotta was able to correct the issue. Daley got some rest, and escaped being deducted a point. What's the issue?
Most fans were up in arms over the deduction, but in some states in the United States -- knees to downed opponents are judged on "intent" to land, not whether they actually landed or not. As Keith Kizer explained to me in lieu of the Anthony Johnson-Josh Koscheck battle at UFC 106, "Mr. Johnson was not aiming at Mr. Koscheck's arm. It was a foul." Those point deductions are based on intent, and while nobody probably knows what the rule is in Quebec... I believe this is the correct way to penalize fighters. Daley's knee was obviously intended at Koscheck's head -- end of discussion.
Of course, fan ignorance to the actual rules helps Koscheck out in this instance. Fans have replaced the old Tito Ortiz as the UFC's ultimate heel with a new one in Josh Koscheck. And Koscheck has already accepted the role by angering an entire city's fanbase. Kudos to you, Josh Koscheck, for becoming a fighter that I used to absolutely hate, to a fighter I absolutely love to see fight and play the heel. You've become the perfect replacement to Tito Ortiz. People either love you, or hate you, but both groups will watch you fight.
Why is this important? This is, after all, a business for Zuffa. With the UFC's welterweight division lacking any real challengers besides that of Josh Koscheck, the promotion does still need a way in which they can sell a fight between the challenger and champion Georges St. Pierre. Most fans are going to believe St. Pierre will smother Koscheck in the rematch, but the added hype that Koscheck has brought to the table could change that mindset.
There's also the issues regarding their first match-up. Koscheck was able to put St. Pierre on his back, something other fighters have had very little success doing since he retained the title back at UFC 83. Their first battle was nearly three years ago, and a lot has changed since then. The Josh Koscheck that St. Pierre met at UFC 74 wasn't the power punching knockout artist that he is today. Koscheck's skill-set has diversified, and it will give St. Pierre something to think about.
The rest of the year should be very interesting at the top of the heap in the UFC's welterweight division. Koscheck's arrogance and cockiness should translate well to The Ultimate Fighter, and it'll more than likely put more hype behind his title match-up with Georges St. Pierre. Most fans see a top control smothering domination by Georges St. Pierre, but I'm not so sure. This will more than likely be Koscheck's last opportunity as he's 32 years old and at the age in which skills begin to diminish in the next few years. This could be his last stand, and he'll make the most of it.