I thought I'd get the ball rolling on this particular match-up between Welterweight Champ Georges St-Pierre and number one contender Josh Koscheck, slated to take place after the two coach against one another on TUF 12.
St. Pierre is coming off of his utter domination over Dan Hardy at UFC 111 while Koscheck just notched an unanimous decision victory over Hardy's countryman, Paul Daley at UFC 113.
We're going to look at individual skills to break down and weigh the two fighters against one another...Wrestling
We're gonna start off with essentially, the bread and butter of both men. Whereas Koscheck is an NCAA Division I Champion, GSP is widely regarded as the best wrestler in MMA today. Their first matchup at UFC 74 was more or less a wrestling match with GSP being the dominant victor. In that fight, Georges was able to put Koscheck on his back relatively easily, but looking back in retrospect, Koscheck may not have been expecting that level of wrestling from Georges. Their previous fight was also actually the last time GSP's been taken down, and he was taken down only once. I fully expect Georges to be the more dominant wrestler as he has been through all of his recent fights. However, I won't be surprised if Koscheck does manage a takedown, knowing that he'll be drilling them nonstop in training though I think GSP's sprawl and overall takedown defence is far too good. With that said, I do expect a little more resistance from Koscheck in defending Georges' takedowns, but as most now come to expect, he will be put on his back eventually and if history is any indication, often.
Whenever Koscheck's mentioned, there always follows a detailed description on his evolution as a mixed martial artists. No doubt he has evolved but his striking is far from world-class. He does however, possess a nasty right hand which he has yet to learn how to set up properly. He did bomb Yoshida and Trigg but one fighter was notoriously weak on his feet whereas the other was woefully past his prime. People have been criticizing GSP on his unwillingness to stand and bang but note that his past two opponents were Thiago Alves, a muay thai wrecking machine, and Dan Hardy, who for all his other flaws, possesses solid boxing. What can be taken from those fights was that during the time when GSP was on his feet, he won the stand-up, knocking down Thiago once, and hitting Hardy with some solid shots. There is also the question of power; though he's never going to be an Anderson Silva, Georges can hurt you when he hits you be it with kicks, knees or punches (see Matt Hughes II, Jon Fitch). What is overlooked at times is GSP's strike defence. Georges is very good at not getting hit (somehow people forget this because of his Matt Serra loss). His head movement is underrated and he has very good reflexes and moves his body and arms to deflect most of the shots coming at him. It's unlikely that Georges will kick much in this fight knowing Koscheck's wrestling pedigree but I still fully expect him to spend a good deal of this fight standing. Georges can easily avoid Koscheck's telegraphed bombs and this may be the fight where he may be content to stay on his feet and possibly finish Koscheck.
In his last fight against Hardy, GSP put on a BJJ clinic, attempting more submissions in one fight than he had ever done in any previous contest. In his last fight before Paul Daley, Koscheck submitted Anthony Johnson with a beautiful rear-naked choke. When comparing the two however, Georges, once again comes on top. Koscheck hasn't shown much of a submission game from his back if any and that's partially because he spends so little time there. Georges however, though doesn't get taken down, sometimes finds himself at the bottom because of some ill-advised submission attempts. From there, Georges has shown to be incredibly active in avoiding damage from the butterfly guard, as well as constantly threatening with sweeps and taking advantage of openings, as was the case in the Hardy fight when he threw up a textbook if incomplete armbar. I don't think Georges will be looking to submit Koscheck in this fight but rather will go back to his relentless ground & pound and I certainly don't see Koscheck threatening with anything from the bottom or from the top for that matter, if he ever gets Georges down.
The X-factor in his fight will be Koscheck's strategy coming into this fight. I'm more partial in leaning towards Koscheck attempting to wrestle Georges rather than strike with him. Then again, perhaps he doesn't feel like GSP is a threat to knock him out on the feet but he also made that assumption with Paulo Thiago and Georges' striking is much more dynamic than Paulo's. The key will be whether or not Koscheck can put Georges on his back. It's doubtful, but we've never seen the champ fight from his back for an extended amount of time. Koscheck certainly has the athleticism and the pedigree to accomplish this, but as his wrestling compatriots before him can attest, getting GSP down is a monumental feat on its own, but keeping him on his back is infinitely more difficult.
Please input your opinions as I'd very much like to see what you guys think about his particular match-up!