clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Georges St. Pierre: Josh Koscheck Has No Idea What He's in for at UFC 124

MONTREAL -- Georges St. Pierre smiles the smile of a man who knows something the rest of us don't know. Whatever it is, we'll have to wait until Saturday night to find out. Josh Koscheck will, too.

There's a scary thought about GSP: that as good as he is -- and some consider the UFC welterweight champion the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet -- he's just reaching his peak as an athlete. At 29 years old, it's a feasible theory.

St. Pierre surrounds himself with the greatest coaches and training partners he can find, he obsesses on the little details that will take good to great, and he willingly accepts the notion that the brain is the most underrated and underused weapon in fighting.

He's evolved to the point that he's as complete a fighter as exists in the sport, capable of fighting in multiple styles, and because of that variable of the unknown, he thinks challenger Josh Koscheck has no idea what he's in for at UFC 124. The result, he hopes, is a finish, an endpoint that St. Pierre has been stressing for the last several months.

"I was not happy with my last fight," St. Pierre said on Wednesday. "I want to take the guy out. I want to finish Koscheck."

For all of St. Pierre's fight week successes, he's never been known to be particularly forthcoming, as he's often so focused on the fight that his interviews border on the routine. But whether fighting in his hometown has energized him or all of Josh Koscheck's pre-fight chatter has motivated him, it seems that the champion is in a supremely confident state of mind.

Among the several nuggets of interest St. Pierre (20-2) dropped on the media were a few that could be considered a return of volley in the trash-talk game.

First, he cast his own doubts that Koscheck really wanted to stand and trade with him. Then, he said Koscheck only came in at No. 3 on the list of fighters who have trash-talked him. And finally, he said Koscheck was "very easy to manipulate," perhaps suggesting that some of his own words may be rattling around in Koscheck's head.

It seems clear that at least on some level, St. Pierre feels he's won phase one of the war by refusing to engage Koscheck during the taping of the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. And the larger point surrounding it seems to suggest St. Pierre believes he can out-strategize Koscheck in the cage.

Asked whether he ever came close to losing his cool with Koscheck, St. Pierre bristled, saying that would be Koscheck's only chance for victory.

"I'm going to fight smart and methodical," he said. "That's what Koscheck wants. He wants me to lose my temper and fight like an idiot, because that's how he can beat me. I don't think skill-wise, he can beat me. In boxing, the guy who's a better boxer, he wants to box. The guy who's not as good as the boxer, he wants to brawl. Because when you brawl, you flip a coin. That's what he wants me to do. He wants me to go in there and lose my mind and that's exactly not what I'm going to do."

But St. Pierre also warns not to take that stance for a lack of aggression. He simply believes the fight must be contested on his terms.

"I have a lot of tools in my bag," he said. "He can stop one takedown or two, I won't mind. I can knock him out standing up, I can beat him on the floor. I can do whatever I want."

St. Pierre spent much of the last few months tweaking his game to ensure that he finishes fights when given the opportunity. Though he routed Dan Hardy over five rounds in his last title defense in March, he still looks back in anger at the missed opportunities to close out the bout.

In addition to his usual training staff, St. Pierre spent time working with jiu-jitsu master Roger Gracie and boxing trainer extraordinaire Freddie Roach, the former who was charged with ensuring his submission technique was perfect, the latter tasked with improving his punching power.

The Canadian hasn't lost a round in 25 rounds, and ironically, Koscheck was the last man to dent the judges' cards against him. But St. Pierre says he's hardly the same fighter Koscheck faced in 2007, and that his arsenal is much broader than he's given credit for. He says he's used what he's needed in the past, but warns there's plenty more that he's yet to unveil. Maybe Saturday will be the day?

One thing is clear though: St. Pierre put Koscheck on blast as a wannabe tough guy, and someone whose strategy doesn't often jibe with his words.

"He doesn't plan to stand up," St. Pierre said. "He's going to try to put me on the ground, and that's what I train for. He's been talking a lot. He's a very predictable guy. He's very easy to manipulate. I know him very well and he says he wants to stand up and bang? Everybody says that. But when you stand up and bang it's like you flip a coin and it's not the best guy that wins when you do that. It's not a smart way to fight.

"A good fighter doesn't stay in the pocket and bang," St. Pierre continued. "Anderson Silva is not champion because he stays in the pocket and bangs. Shogun Rua is not like that. Frankie Edgar is not like that. I'm not like that, either. Cain Velasquez either. It's a mentally cold game. People forget, fighting is not about courage, it's not about who has the biggest ... That's not what it's about. Fighting is about the technical and mental. A lot of people don't understand that. Me? I know the game and I don't try to portray myself in that way. I don't try to lie to myself."

The great thing about fighting is the truth comes out eventually. For Koscheck and St. Pierre, it will come before around 23,000 fans screaming for their hometown hero. In keeping with the theme, St. Pierre looks at that as just another element that Koscheck's never experienced, just one more thing he can't possibly be ready for.

"What I'm going to live on Saturday, I lived it before but Koscheck never did," he said. "It takes you a little bit off-guard. It's a weird thing. It's pretty crazy. It's an experience I cannot explain, but you need to live it."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting