Great free fights on Spike, and for the most part no surprises, save for the KO loss of Josh Koscheck.
It looked early on the Kos was dictating the stand-up and chasing a less competent striker. Many would expect Thiago to try to pull guard and find an advantage for himself there. Maybe he was scared of the wrestling and ground and pound—only he knows, but it didn't happen.
Now, make no mistake, Thiago is not a great striker. He is awkward, off-balance, drops his hands, as Rogan kept pointing out, and changes stance during exchanges, effectively nullifying his own power and putting himself at risk. If you watch the fight once, it's hard to miss. So how did he catch Koscheck and win the fight?
Granted, it was a good punch at the right time with still-sloppy foot work, but it don't gotta be perty to work. It wasn't what he did right, it was what Josh did wrong, and here it goes.
As we know, Josh is a fairly green striker and has experienced one of the bumps along the way to becoming a good, competent boxer. To start out, strikers learn the tools in the gym and practice them so they are crisp on the pads in training. Then in sparring they try to apply these tools on an opponent who is doing the same.
At the beginning it's very much like two people trying to talk at the same time. The conversation is quite funny to witness. Part of why I love toughman contests is that they're raw and often hilarious with no thought toward defence other than turning and running.
Then, once a striker calms down and realizes that he simply needs to work on timing a bit, put the glove in the way, move the head only slightly like a string hooked to the nose being tugged, use the legs to slightly angle turn or tip the torso to make the punch miss or block it, or even close the gap and choke the techniques. This is where the foot work is huge. And it's worked over and over in actual sparring to perfect.
Once this is achieved, the striker may be proficient at what some call "sitting on your punches," which basically means working the basic tools to create openings, counter punching, and most importantly being calm and focused as to respond quickly and not get caught or miss an opportunity.
I feel that Josh began the journey to master this craft and so far he has hit the bump in the road I call the "heavy hand syndrome." That is, Josh has KO power and because of this is becoming one-dimensional and easy to read, much like we saw from Joe Daddy, who, I think, had the wrong plan, but that's another matter.
Koscheck, because of the heavy hand syndrome, and finding success beating people down lately, was throwing simple punch combos with no regard for what the opponent was up to. His hands also were down and he was overextending on his deliveries to catch a running opponent.
All focus was on the big right hook, which a better boxer would have exploited and counterpunched on purpose rather than just getting lucky. What I'm saying is if Kos had fought to win on points and created openings with an intelligent strategy and well-placed sharp punch combos to draw the opening for the heavy hand, well, needless to say, it would have been a bad day for Mr. Thiago.
A muay thai coach I know in Calgary once said to me something along the lines of, "You did all the hard work and you're ready. This thing is scheduled for six minutes so don't be in a big hurry and force it; you might miss something important. If you stick to the plan, have some patience, and be busy, you stand the best chance."
Followed by, if you look for the knockout you can make mistakes, but if you fight smart to win the whole fight, the knockout chance will present itself.
I think this is what happened to Mr. Koscheck and if he can overcome the one-punch hunting mentality and sit on his punches he will be a whole different fighter. And I hope he does.