UFC 124 Analysis: St. Pierre Is King, Kos Is Misunderstood, Roach Is Overvalued
UFC 124 is officially in the books.
It was a quality night of fights. As per usual, there was plenty of good, bad, and ugly to go around.
Here are a few post-event thoughts and pontifications for you to attempt to digest:
1. Georges St. Pierre est un mechant, mechant homme. Translation: Georges St. Pierre is a bad, bad man. He came out and showed an array of new skills including a stiff, laser beam jab. He pitched the equivalent of a complete game shutout in baseball against a formidable test in Josh Koscheck.
2. “GSP” has proven he can dominate a fight on the feet or on the floor depending on what his opponent’s skill set is and what plan of attack is required. He is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA making tangible improvements is bad news for future opponents.
3. UFC announcer Joe Rogan described Koscheck’s eye as “horrendous” at one point during the fight. If that was horrendous, what would you call Marcus Davis’ eye at UFC 118?
4. This is by no means a newsflash, but it was amplified Saturday night—Koscheck has incredible offensive and defensive wrestling. He deserves all the praise in the world for being able to take St. Pierre down and withstand the overwhelming majority of St. Pierre’s takedown attempts.
5. Koscheck is not the terrible human being everyone thinks he is. I know this may be a shock, but The Ultimate Fighter is not a documentary. It’s a reality show where there is video splicing in the editing room, scene re-shoots, and cue cards. Koscheck was simply playing a character who was christened the antagonist.
6. The idea that an Ultimate Fighter coach like Koscheck can transform a member of his team into a future title challenger in the span of roughly six weeks is utterly ridiculous. Again, it is a television show. It is not a vehicle to develop prospects.
7. While training with Freddie Roach like St. Pierre did never hurts, it also will not pay huge dividends. For one, the footwork Roach would teach does not have a high degree of applicability to mixed martial arts. After all, in boxing you do not have to worry about getting taken down or eating kicks.
8. Fighters like St. Pierre are typically working with Roach for no more than a week or two at his Wildcard Gym, which is a very small percentage of a fighter’s overall training camp. Not many habits can be broken or instilled in that short span of time. See Andrei Arlovski, who is 0 – 3 since he first took instruction from Roach.
9. All the praise being directed at Roach for the standup improvements shown by St. Pierre should be more appropriately assigned to men like Firas Zahabi, Howard Grant, and Phil Nurse, who are helping St. Pierre refine his striking on a regular basis.
10. Dana White confirmed at the post-fight press conference that Jake Shields is next in line for St. Pierre’s belt. While Shields does deserve the opportunity based on his resume he does not stand a chance at winning. He will not be able to take St. Pierre down and it will turn into a glorified kickboxing match where he will be at a distinct disadvantage. Many criticize St. Pierre for not finishing fights and this is the fight that will quiet his remaining detractors.
11. St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva needs to happen towards the end of 2011 or early 2012 if St. Pierre defeats Shields and Silva defeats Vitor Belfort at UFC 126. That should give St. Pierre, who walks around at 188-190 pounds, enough time to properly pack on an additional 10-15 pounds. It would be MMA’s version of Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the biggest fight in the history of the sport.
12. I have a good feeling Belfort is going to kill the “superfight.” I am concerned with his layoff and accumulation of injuries. I am more concerned about Silva’s motivation, aging body, and the regression of his hand speed. His standup exchanges against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 were troubling. It will be detrimental against a quick power puncher like Belfort.
13. Slow your roll on Stefan Struve. Sean McCorkle was essentially an MMA neophyte who is clueless on the ground. Struve is a mid tier heavyweight who will beat average heavyweights, but also lose to upper tier fighters like Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, etc… Not all young fighters continue to develop as time moves along and he is not far from his peak. That not withstanding, there’s nothing wrong with being a quality heavyweight for the next few years.
14. Jim Miller has quietly recorded six straight victories inside the octagon. Flying under the radar would be an understatement. Even with his impressive streak he is likely 2-3 wins and 12-18 months away from a potential title shot. He’ll be stuck treading water for a while as Gray Maynard and the Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis winner get their chances to fight for the belt. He may even get leapfrogged by George Sotiropoulos if he is able to defeat Dennis Siver at UFC 127. Miller is persona non grata in the title picture for the time being.
15. Oliveira is an exciting young fighter with a lot of tools, but he still needs a lot of work. His defensive wrestling has been an issue throughout his career. A quality veteran in Miller was too much, too soon. He simply needs more cage time at this point. Lesson learned for the young Brazilian.
16. Most betting sites had Miller as an underdog heading into the fight, which was borderline ridiculous. From time to time there are still clearly mis-handicapped fights like this that pop up that hold incredible value. You just need to know how to spot them and pounce.
17. Despite his impressive knockout victory over Joe Stevenson, Mac Danzig should be fighting at 145 pounds. Moving forward he will continue to struggle with the majority of the mid tier 155’ers and above. He will win some and lose some like he always has. His long term future and ability to stay on the Zuffa payroll will hinge on whether or not he makes the cut to featherweight.
18. Why has Danzig decided that a Diego Sanchez-like mop top on his head is a good thing? On second thought, I suppose he is undefeated with it …
19. Prospect Matthew Riddle took a big step backwards with his loss to Sean Pierson on the undercard. This is a guy the UFC has been behind and given plenty of time to develop. He’s gotten the Gerald Harris treatment to a lesser extent. I think he is safe for now, but if he loses his next fight he could easily find himself on the chopping block.
20. Mad props to the UFC for broadcasting the Dan Miller vs. Joe Doerksen and Dustin Hazelett vs. Mark Bocek preliminary fights on UFC.com. The feed was clear and sleek with no interruptions or technical issues. When the UFC does not broadcast prelims on Spike TV they need to continue to do this moving forward. In addition, overseas cards need to be available for viewing on the website when they happen live instead of having viewers wait to see the action on tape delay. This is the 21st century, after all.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to CBSSports.com, MMAmania.com, and FIGHT! Magazine (in addition to BleacherReport.com). Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.
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