Monday's "UFC 124 Countdown: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck" took a long look at this Saturday's UFC welterweight championship rematch between champion Georges St. Pierre and No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck. The show also took a look at the fights between Stefan Struve and Sean McCorkle, Joe Stevenson and Mac Danzig and Thiago Alves and John Howard.
We go back to April 2007 and GSP's loss to Matt Serra in his first championship defense. He says he was surrounded by yes men and needed to train with real martial artists. Four months following that loss, he faced Josh Koscheck, a fighter on a five-fight winning streak who was working on his stand-up after being a champion wrestler in college. Koscheck trainer Dave Camarillo calls that Koscheck a "dumb fighter." Koscheck thought St. Pierre was a karate fighter and a kickboxer. St. Pierre says he wanted to put Koscheck on his back in that fight and make him fight from an uncomfortable position.
We see some highlights from the fight. Koscheck admits GSP was the better fighter that night and GSP says that fight really lifted his confidence. We're told GSP hasn't lost a round since beating Koscheck, a stretch of six fights, including three five-round title fights that went the distance.
We go to GSP's fight with Dan Hardy. He says he expected to submit Hardy. After failing on an armbar in the first round, St. Pierre worked on that technique immediately following that fight in the locker room.
We talk about Koscheck's contender fight with Paul Daley in Montreal in May. We get some trash talk highlights from before the fight and Koscheck details some of the in-fight trash talk. We see Daley's post-bell punch and then move to Koscheck coaching against St. Pierre on "The Ultimate Fighter 12."
St. Pierre says he didn't like to be in the same room as Koscheck and Koscheck wanted to get under GSP's skin. He claims GSP doesn't like confrontation. Joe Rogan says Koscheck should be careful what he wishes because a pissed off GSP is something else to deal with.
That's the end of the first segment. Follow us after the jump for the remainder of the recap!
St. Pierre says he doesn't watch team sports, only combat sports and things like track and field, things natural to humans. St. Pierre says the countries that always won wars were the ones with more advanced weaponry. And Royce Gracie won the first UFC because of his jiu-jitsu. He says he thinks he's champion because he's the strongest guy and he can put it all together. The narrator says GSP's greatest weapon is knowledge.
We cut to St. Pierre in New York, where he says he started to train 10 years ago when he couldn't speak English very well (there's gotta be a joke somewhere in that statement). He says he used to drive here in his old Fold. We see him at Renzo Gracie's gym and at Phil Nurse's gym. We also see him with John Danaher. We see a few of the other people he works with. Greg Jackson says decentralized trainer is crucial because that's how you evolve. We see GSP meeting with Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines.
The narrator says like his training, GSP's diet is cutting edge. We see him taking shark cartilage and other various items.
After another break, it's time to move our focus to the challenger.
We go back in time to Koscheck's upbringing from nothing in Waynesburg, Pa., where he was one of the only bi-racial kids in school. He says he's only met his father once and that was when he was 18. He essentially told him off. Koscheck got involved in wrestling at four years old because his grandparents thought he had too much energy. He says through high school he worked to get a scholarship. He got it at Edinboro University. His college wrestling coach says Koscheck was a bit of a loner because he was "such a prick."
He was the national champion at 174-pounds at Edinboro and got a degree in criminal justice. We see his time on "The Ultimate Fighter" and his bad boy persona. Koscheck says he's not in the sport to make friends, he's here to win titles. He likes that he's being counted out against GSP because that's when he proves everybody wrong. He says he went through hell to get where he is today and he wants to win this belt.
After a break, we get a look at the location of the fight: Montreal. Of course, Koscheck antagonized the Montreal crowd following his way over Daley. Koscheck says he plans on backing up his talk. GSP says he probably knows Koscheck better than Koscheck knows himself. Koscheck says he's been working on putting everything together, becoming a mixed martial artist, and that's the difference between now and 2007.
Nurse says GSP's been working on some things that he hasn't displayed yet because the timing has been right. Nurse speculates the timing could be right in this one. St. Pierre says, while laughing, that he doesn't think Koscheck can stop his double-leg takedown. Koscheck admits St. Pierre will probably get a takedown, but he's not just going to lay there. He's going to get up. Camarillo expects Koscheck to be on top. Koscheck says if he gets his hands on GSP, GSP is going to sleep. He says he might lay down next to him after he knocks him out.
GSP says he's a specialist of facing people who trash talk, people in rematches and people who are wrestlers. Koscheck is all three. Koscheck says GSP is going to have to stand in front of him and knock him out, but "I don't think he has the balls to do that." St. Pierre says Koscheck isn't going to be able to keep up with him for five rounds and once he makes that first mistake, he's going to get knocked out or submitted — guaranteed.
"He's going to go to sleep. And you're gonna see 22,000 French-Canadians in the stands go from chanting 'GSP' to absolute silence," Koscheck says.
After a break, we move on to a big heavyweight fight. Well, not big in terms of rankings, but in the size of the competitors. It will be 6-foot-6 Sean McCorkle against 6-foot-11 Stefan Struve.
We hear about both men's wins and then McCorkle's Twitter trash talk. Struve thinks it turns McCorkle on. He adds that when you talk trash like that on professional fighters, you're going to get your ass kicked.
Then, for only the third time in UFC history, two "Ultimate Fighter" winners will square off when Joe Stevenson faces Mac Danzig.
Danzig admits this will be a make-or-break fight for him. He doesn't want to go to a real job and he's more motivated than ever before. And when he feels that way, he doesn't lose. Danzig has lost four-of-five fights.
Stevenson says he loves training again at Greg Jackson's gym. Jackson says improved greatly from his fights with Nate Diaz to Spencer Fisher.
We see highlights of some of Danzig's wins and he says it's going to come down to who wants it more and who wants to be in the UFC more. He says, "at this point, I know I care more." Stevenson's words are simple: "I will beat Mac Danzig."
After our final break, we talk about our final fight: Thiago Alves vs. John Howard.
Joe Rogan says if you are a fan of brutal muay thai kickboxing, this is the fight for you, as both these men specialize in knocking their opponents out.
Howard says he is so happy to fight a stand-up fighter and he hopes Alves will stand with him because he's going to stand with Alves.
Not much frightens Howard after his upbringing in a dangerous area of Boston.
Alves will be Howard's toughest test to date. Alves says he knows he's better than Howard, he just has to go show the world. Alves wants to get a title shot again and he knows he's going to get it. Alves says he can knock any welterweight out.
Howard predicts he'll knock Alves out in the third round and that "it's going to be an unbelievable war."
And that's it! Very solid show tonight. I liked how they took a bit of a look at some of the other fights on the show and didn't base it completely on the main event. If you can catch this show, I highly recommend doing so.