This past Saturday December 12th the MMA world was treated to a display of a fighters discipline and evolution at its absolute finest. We were able to watch a fighter put on a masterpiece of a performance when Georges St. Pierre absolutely dismantled number one contender Josh Koscheck.
Leading up to the fight everyone claimed that St. Pierre would use his wrestling to take the fight to the ground in order to avoid the powerful overhand Josh Koscheck promised that he would land. Nobody would believe that St. Pierre would stand in front of Koscheck for five rounds and make it out without being knocked out. Everyone said St. Pierre played it safe, never took chances and lacked a killer instinct.
Well those people were wrong.
St. Pierre utilized a brilliant boxing skill set that was highlighted by a damaging jab that landed often and early. Freddie Roach, who had coached St. Pierre in his boxing for this fight said he would land a left hook that would end Koscheck’s night. He was wrong however that left hook also landed often with ill intent.
Let’s take a look at the fight after the jump
When I posted this earlier in the year I did not think it would be so soon that it would come back full circle in validation to how important and under utilized the jab can be in MMA. To quote myself from the post aforementioned.
Plain and simple the most effective strike in any strikers arsenal. In MMA and in boxing alike the jab in its purest form is extremely effective and if used correctly lethal. It often gets overlooked when more flashy strikes like uppercuts and spinning back fists are presented at the table, however the jab is often the appetizer at dinner. Its often overlooked and even forgotten but when done properly it enhances the meal and sets the tone for the evening. It wont usually fill you up but most definetely will get you started. The jab has been utilized over and over again in MMA to alter fights, change momentum and even end and win the fight.
In MMA the jab is extremely much more effective in terms of damage then in boxing because of the usage of four ounce gloves. The jab often is the reason for facial bruising, swelling and cuts. A stiff jab can easily break the nose even though it hardly carries any KO power. As we have seen a closed/swollen eye can severely effect the outcome of the fight when it renders the victim basically able to see with only one eye and if a cut is in the right spot blood can seep into the eyes also rendering the victim temporarily blind in one if not both eyes. But the jab isn't solely used for physical damage, its far more then just a simple punch.
Nothing has changed from then til now. The jab is still the most effective strike in all of MMA today. For those of you with short term memory BJ Penn just knocked out Matt Hughes; Penn showed in the 21 seconds of the bout that his jab was to be used to be a range finder before he threw the power punch that ended Hughes night.
What St. Pierre did with it was different.
First thing most people will notice is that St. Pierre seems to lunge in on the jab. This is important for a few reasons. For one it sets up momentum which in return creates power. That power is what causes the break in Koscheck's orbital bone.
Secondly, it utilizes the reach advantage that St. Pierre posseses over his opponent. The lead jab added with the lunge in also makes the punch come with a faster delivery throwing off Koscheck's timing and making it very hard to block.
St. Pierre also sits on the jab as well which would keep his base stable and balanced allowing him to land more effectively as well. The last thing in the clip you may not notice is the feint that St. Pierre uses which throws Koscheck again off balance. Already in the first round a brilliant boxing display from the Champion.
In these two clips we saw what St. Pierre did that really set the tone for his destruction of Koscheck. St. Pierre found his range, stayed away from the overhand right and landed uncontested shots to Koschecks face.
In both clips St. Pierre uses the lunging jab to throw Koscheck off balance and then finishes the two strike combination by throwing his overhand/straight right punch. In both instances he lands the combination sending Koscheck off balance and retreating.
Clearly Josh Koscheck did not train for such an aggressive boxing game from the champion. What makes that so disappointing is that St. Pierre used the same jab just not as tightly thrown against teammate Jon Fitch in another fight GSP dominated over the course of 25 minutes.
St. Pierre does not lack a killer instinct. As Greg Jackson said, St. Pierre was looking for the finish but Josh Koscheck is just a very tough fighter. Whenever Koscheck would attempt to get off his own offense St. Pierre was there to answer questions to whether or not he was a "safe" fighter.
In this clip St. Pierre uses very effective foot movement when he takes a step to his left and swinging his hips to put more emphasis on his strike. He evades the strike and lands a very crisp left hook. This strike was the strike Freddie Roach predicted would end the fight. And one would have to assume with more time training this could very well be a finishing punch.
St. Pierre won this fight based a lot on his speed. He was just too fast for Koscheck to defend. The snap in St. Pierre's jab was tremendous and the speed and efficiency really hurt Koscheck.
In these clips if you watch closely St. Pierre is already through Koschecks guard before you can actually see him clinch up to defend. By the time Koscheck tries blocking St. Pierre's jab is already landing flush. Again, Josh Koscheck is thrown off balance and stunned. And once again St. Pierre is lunging and fully extending which gives him every bit of the advantage in his reach.
What is better then a jab? A double jab. St. Pierre uses it similar to what one would use as a feint. To keep the opponent off balance, second guessing and unable to throw their own strike. St. Pierre throws the initial jab out which opens up Koscheck's guard entirely and the second jab lands flush stunning him and leaves room for the straight right that in this instance does not land flush.
What would a GSP post be without his signature strike? By this time Koscheck has a swollen eye and was completely out of his element and gameplan. He was winging overhands and hoping for the "hail mary" punch to land.
St. Pierre is so technically sound in this strike; changing levels while using his momentum and speed to land an effective lead jab. His body stays perfectly balanced and just like the rest of the clips throws Koscheck backwards stunned and off balance.
Diversity. Simply stated St. Pierre kept his striking so diverse that Koscheck never knew what was coming. As Koscheck's right eye began to swell shut St. Pierre did what was expected and he attacked.
Alot of people say he has no killer instinct. If he didn't he would have coasted to a decision. Instead he started throwing another under utilized strike often forgotten about in MMA, the lead hook.
Again, St. Pierre sets the strike up perfectly without even using his arm. First he uses his reach and stays just within his own range and outside his opponents. He takes a subtle stpe forward and plants his leg distributing his weight forward and throws and lands a lead hook.
Mixing up the striking arsenal makes it so an opponent can never adapt to you within a fight. St. Pierre used a jab, a double jab, many combo's, a superman jab and lastly we see him landing the lead hook. There was little hope that Koscheck could time St. Pierre when he was throwing strikes that used different timing.
One last time, quoting from my original piece about the jab.
Plain And Simple, the jab is not utilized nearly enough in MMA. Sure some fighters have found success without it but really think about all the dangerous BJJ and Wrestling guys adding such a tool to their tool box. Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre has shown us how effective striking can win fights
Not much has changed from then til now, St. Pierre is not just a wrestler or karate practitioner. No, GSP is the definition of a true mixed martial artist.
And of course we come back to the bread and butter of the Champion. The wrestling of St. Pierre is still second to none. While Josh Koscheck showed his wrestling skills by stuffing several takedown attempts and even securing one on the champ, St. Pierre still showed his evolution in our sport by mixing uo his striking and wrestling.
Everytime Josh Koscheck was able to get his balance and feel comfortable enough to start mounting some sort of offense St. Pierre would change levels and explode. This clip in particular shows perfectly how much power he has in his double leg.
UFC 124 was a defining moment for St. Pierre; not because he broke his opponents orbital bone or won a fight were every round could have been argued to be a 10-8 round. Because St. Pierre showed why he is the complete package and why he has been overlooked for so long as being the most dominant champion in our sport. He has outstruck challenges, out grappled and out wrestled them all. He has faced wrestlers, jiu jitsu fighters and strikers alike.
Looks like the welterweight division may have found its greatest champion.