UFC 124: Here's To You, Josh Koscheck

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UFC 124: Here's To You, Josh Koscheck
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Let’s have a toast for the d*****bags, let’s have a toast for the a**holes, let’s have a toast for the scumbags, every one of them that I know. Let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs, that'll never take work off.

For those of you that can’t stand him, I apologize for sullying a good MMA discussion with a Kanye West song.

That said, I felt like the rapper’s latest hit/mea culpa/excercise in self-indulgence is particularly appropriate after last night’s UFC 124 main event.

And of course, I’m talking about MMA’s premier D-bag: Josh Koscheck.

After months of trash talk, over the top boasting, reality TV hijinks, male nurse bashing and borderline homoerotic comments had everyone hyped to the nines, the welterweight title fight between Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck proved to be horrendously one-sided.

For 25 minutes, St. Pierre teed off on the challengers face almost at will. He broke Koscheck’s orbital bone, avoided any damage in return and put on a clinic of jabs, hooks, leg kicks and Superman punches.

Aside from a brief take down, Koscheck had nothing to offer GSP.

Post-fight analyses have been a slew of congratulatory sentiments for GSP across the board, with many calling him perhaps the greatest fighter in Mixed Martial Arts today.

And yet, in the midst of this “rush” to heap praise on GSP (see what I did there?), I can’t help but to offer a tip of my hat to Josh Koscheck.

Yes, I want to praise Josh Koscheck, the man dominated so totally and so completely that he may never again receive another shot at the title.

For the 23,000 fans in attendance, this fight was everything you could have asked for: Five rounds of the hometown good guy trouncing possibly the sport’s biggest villain.

Everyone who was in attendance that night had a great time.

I know, because I was one of them.

I’ve beat this drum before, but there’s nothing like a GSP fight in Montreal. No fighter in MMA, bar none, commands fan energy and adulation in their hometown like Mr. St. Pierre does in Montreal.

The crowd was white-hot from the opening bell to the final decision, screaming, chanting and cheering like the drunken Canadian lunatics we were. Think a World Cup final, crossed with a group therapy session, bred with one of those crazy deep-South revivals.

And of course, we booed the living sh*t out of Josh Koscheck.

I didn’t, though. Honest.

I clapped politely when he entered the Bell Centre, while around me people booed, flipped him the bird and showered him with sentiments they probably wouldn’t want repeated in front of their mothers—except that it was a GSP fight, meaning their mothers were likely there as well, booing and cursing right along with them.

I also didn’t partake in the “F*ck You Koscheck!” chant, which I thought was in particularly bad taste.

For Pete’s sake, he’s already getting the living crap beat out of him in front of thousands of people. Isn’t that enough? Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.

Not trying to be a snob here—Kos certainly did everything he could to earn those boos, after all. If you jeered him, I certainly don’t blame you.

For my part, I think being GSP’d is a bad enough fate for any man.

And what a GSP’ing it was.

Yet, amid the absolute adrenaline rush of watching perhaps the best all-around martial artist on planet Earth do his thing, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy for Koscheck.

The man had clearly done his homework. In their first fight, Kos was thoroughly out-wrestled by GSP and he was clearly determined to avoid that fate the second time around. In that regard, he largely succeeded.

He stuffed most of St. Pierre’s take downs, and even managed one of his own in the first round. Amid all the adulation being heaped on GSP, the fact that his wrestling game was largely stifled has been entirely overlooked.

That’s probably because it didn’t make a damn bit of difference. Kos kept the fight on the feet, where GSP battered him almost at will, picking him apart with a technical perfection rarely seen in MMA.

An early victim of this fight was Kos’s orbital bone, shattered by a St. Pierre jab. With each passing minute, the swelling on his face got worse; Koscheck’s vision was further diminished and St. Pierre continued to hone in on the break with hooks and head kicks.

From the 3rd round onwards, and arguably sooner then that, Kos was a desperate man, a broken fighter—looking not to prevail, but simply to survive.

Kos trained hard for this fight for months. He showed up in shape, and with a game plan that gave him the best possible chance of victory.

Kos gave months of his life in training, gave this fight everything he had and what does he gave to show for it? A broken orbital bone, a bloodied face, months of rehab ahead of him and zero chance of another title shot so long as St. Pierre holds the title.

All he can say is that he went the distance. That he was defeated, but he was never beaten. For a fighter as competitive as Kos, that must be a bitter pill to swallow.

Yet, he should hold his head up high. If nothing else, Kos proved what a tough SOB he really is.

He fought almost five full rounds with a broken bone in his face, barely able to see. He could have quit at any point. When the ringside doctor checked on him after the third round, he could easily have taken that “out” and stop the beating with no damage to his pride.

But he didn’t. He stayed in there, took the best shots GSP had to give him and never stopped trying to win the fight, even while 23,000 people jeered and taunted him.

I hope fans remember the true display of heart and grit Koscheck put on Saturday night. I hope that even amidst the scorn and the ridicule, fans aknowledge what a mentally strong fighter Kos really is.

So long derided for being a “princess,” faking injuries and fouls with regularity, Koscheck proved beyond all doubt that in the realm of mental fortitude, Koscheck is truly unshakable.

Most of all, I hope Koscheck can show this fight to his kids and grandkids one day, and do so with pride. For 25 minutes, he danced under those lights with the absolute best in the world, took everything he had to offer, and never backed down.

Most people will go their whole lives never knowing if they measure up to greatness. Koscheck no longer has this uncertainty.

So Kos, here’s to ya. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of you at the sports elite level.

You’ve earned that much.

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