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UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 15, 2011, 7:29 AM

UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck 2

Montreal, Quebec

-This show broke the record attendance for a UFC event at 23,152, which just goes to show the drawing power of GSP in Canada. Well hey, the Canadians always did get behind a Canadian hero like few other countries do, didn’t they? Look at Bret Hart.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: John Makdessi vs Pat Audinwood

I didn’t know much about Makdessi coming in outside of a good reputation for his kickboxing game, while Audinwood had shown so little in his UFC debut against Thiago Tavares that he was equally as unknown a quantity. A coin toss (!) told me Audinwood would win by KO.

Round One begins and Makdessi looks TINY compared to Audinwood, it must be said. Audinwood keeps his distance, circling around on the outside while Makdessi looks patient, then lands with a nice side kick to the body. High kick from Audinwood is blocked and they trade off with some low kicks. Another side kick to the body lands for Makdessi. Audinwood is fighting like a bad version of Dominick Cruz here in that he’s dancing around and all but isn’t really landing much. Spinning backfist misses for Makdessi but an axe kick lands. This guy is flashy! Good low kick from Makdessi and he counters a rush from Audinwood with a triple left hook. Nice! Good right hand follows and then as Audinwood steps in Makdessi meets him with the left again and drops him. Makdessi tries to follow up, but Audinwood does a good job of covering up and kicking him away, then escapes to his feet. Audinwood tries to close the distance now, grabbing a clinch, but he eats another right hand and the debutant breaks off. Less than a minute to go and Makdessi snaps Audinwood’s head back with a jab and then lands the side kick again. Spinning kick misses and allows Audinwood a takedown attempt, but Makdessi stuffs it. Round ends with Makdessi feinting before landing another stiff left hand. Pretty clear round for John Makdessi, 10-9.

2nd round and Makdessi presses the action with some more wild kicks. Audinwood continues to dance around without doing much and takes a wild hook kick from the newcomer. Beautiful spinning back kick from Makdessi and he follows with a right hand that lands clean. Audinwood tries to fire back but Makdessi easily avoids. Heavy combo rocks Audinwood’s world and puts him on wobbly legs for a second but he recovers quickly. Nice leg kick but Audinwood catches it and gets a takedown. Makdessi hits a quick reversal though and escapes right back to his feet. Audinwood is getting CLOWNED here. Stiff jab snaps Audinwood’s head back again. This dude is a sick, sick striker. More left hooks clock Audinwood to end the round. This is a whitewash.

3rd round and Makdessi comes right out throwing his kicks again. Pretty much all of Audinwood’s strikes are coming short too. Superman punch from Audinwood but Makdessi shrugs off any attempt at a clinch. Good right hand from Makdessi but he misses a spinning kick this time. More jabs and kicks land for the Canadian before he lands another hook kick. This is becoming a showcase for this dude’s striking. Couple more jabs land and then another spinning back kick and an axe kick. This is just wild. Less than a minute to go and a jumping spin kick sort-of lands with a glance. That was insane. Seconds to go now and Makdessi continues to own poor Audinwood until the buzzer goes.

Judges have it a 30-27, 30-27, 30-26 shutout for John Makdessi. That was a super-impressive debut with some of the most crazy strikes I can ever remember seeing in an MMA fight, that’s for sure. Whether he develops into something special or ends up as the next Pat Barry remains to be seen, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him fight again!

Welterweight Fight: Ricardo Almeida vs TJ Grant

Almeida had looked a sure-fire title contender at 170lbs until he was derailed by Matt Hughes in August, but despite that I figured he’d still have enough to deal with grappler Grant, who has settled nicely into the role of gatekeeper at Welterweight even if I doubt he’ll ever make a run at the very top level. I was taking Almeida by decision as I thought Grant would have enough to avoid the submission game of the Brazilian.

We begin and Grant pushes forward as Almeida circles on the outside and lands a leg kick. Takedown from Big Dog and he lands in Grant’s butterfly guard. Good defensive job from Grant as Almeida looks to pass but fails and ends up in the butterfly guard again. Couple of nice punches get through for Almeida though. Grant stays active with some strikes from his back and does well to keep full guard, but finally Almeida passes to half-guard. Grant reverses back to full guard and then manages to push off the fence and gets to his feet. Another takedown from Almeida follows though and we’re back to square one. Or two if square one was the stand-up. Grant looks to scramble but gives his head and for a second it looks like Almeida might go for a guillotine, but TJ recognizes it and quickly gets out. Punches from the top from Almeida but he still can’t get out of Grant’s guard. He keeps working though and for a second gets full mount, but a hip escape quickly gives Grant his guard back. More punches from Almeida and he passes back to half-guard. Good elbow from Almeida and he shrugs off a triangle attempt and drops back into the guard. Round ends with Almeida in half-guard. 10-9 Almeida.

Round Two and Almeida uses a lot of footwork before hitting a beautiful double leg to guard. This time he passes into side mount right away, but once again a hip escape gets TJ his guard back. Almeida works with some strikes and moves into half-guard, then slips into side mount. Grant squirms, but this time Almeida manages to keep the dominant position. Grant though slips out again and gets back to guard. Punches from Almeida and he avoids an upkick and gets back to side mount. Full mount almost follows but TJ defends again. This is a really technical ground match. Beautiful reversal puts Grant on his feet and he looks for a takedown of his own, but Almeida stops that and gets on top again for some more ground-and-pound. TJ works back to his feet, but Almeida stays on him and drags him back down. Crowd are lightly booing now but they really shouldn’t be. Good punches from Almeida and he remains in top position. Grant slides back and ends up seated by the fence, so Almeida grabs the head for a guillotine but gives it up to land a pair of knees as TJ stands. Takedown attempt from Almeida is blocked this time and Grant gets on top with some wild punches! Crowd pop big time for that one. TJ stands back up out of the guard and kicks the legs, then drops back into the guard to end the round. 10-9 Almeida despite the late rally.

Between rounds Grant’s cornerman outright tells him he’s down two rounds to none and needs a finish. Almost refreshing to see a guy be so frank with his fighter.

Third round and Almeida throws out some punches before shooting on a single leg. Grant tries to defend but the Brazilian gets him down against the fence and drags him away from it. TJ looks to get to his feet, but Almeida’s having none of that and he works to the back with a body triangle. Grant looks to turn, but Ricardo stays clamped firmly on only for TJ to somehow slip into half-guard. Full guard now for Grant but while his defence has looked excellent he just can’t seem to string any offense together. Solid elbows land for Big Dog from the top. TJ tries to wall-walk to his feet but Almeida keeps dragging him off the fence to prevent it. The Brazilian works into full mount nicely and lands some punches before Grant gives his back. Good elbow from the back for Big Dog and Grant looks out of gas. Really good punches land for Almeida but Grant gets a loose half-guard back. That doesn’t stop the onslaught of elbows though and Grant is now sporting a bloody nose. Full mount for Big Dog again and once more he gets the back, and this time it looks like he might be trying for a triangle from the back, but Grant manages to get free and turns into the guard of the Brazilian. They come back to their feet before he can do anything though, and Almeida gets a takedown to end the fight. Got to be 30-27 for Ricardo Almeida but this was an excellent fight.

Judges indeed have it 30-27 all round for Ricardo Almeida. Grant tried and didn’t give up for a second but he was faced with a far superior grappler here who was also able to get takedowns at will, which never bodes well. If anything TJ did well not to get finished. Good win for Almeida to bounce back from the Hughes loss.

Welterweight Fight: Sean Pierson vs Matthew Riddle

Like Makdessi earlier Pierson was another guy I didn’t know all that much about – so-so record with some good wins but nothing really eye-catching, although he hadn’t lost since 2007 at least. Riddle though is a guy who’s been steadily improving since he debuted in the UFC in 2008 and I couldn’t see him losing to a newcomer here.

Fight begins and they exchange shots right away, and it looks like the striking advantage goes firmly to Pierson as he tags Riddle with some hard shots from the off. Flurry has Riddle stunned and forces him to the clinch, where they exchange knees inside. Riddle looks for the takedown but Pierson is having none of that and he blocks before breaking off. They look to exchange again and this time Riddle throws an awful jumping knee that allows Pierson to counter with a HUGE RIGHT, dropping the TUF veteran hard! Big right hand follows over the top as Riddle rolls and looks for a takedown. Pierson stuffs it and looks for a D’Arce, but Riddle avoids it. Pierson decides to spin to the back instead and begins to land punches and knees to the body. Riddle is in a lot of trouble. He stands, but Pierson suplexes him back down and continues to land shots. Pierson gets one hook in and continues to smash him, then winds up on top in side mount. Good knees to the body again from Pierson and he takes the back again with both hooks this time. Riddle stands to attempt to shake his opponent off, but Pierson pulls him down and then stands when Riddle tries to roll. Riddle looks to strike, but Pierson is just far superior standing and he continues to tag him with shots from the outside. Round ends as Riddle charges forward but continues to eat counters. Awesome round for Sean Pierson and I’d say it was enough for a 10-8 in fact.

Into the 2nd and Riddle comes out swinging, but his punches are falling short and Pierson tags him with some more shots in the exchange. Takedown attempt from Riddle but Pierson sprawls nicely and looks to spin to the back again. Riddle avoids that, but still can’t get the Canadian down, and they come back to their feet. Both men look content to strike now and Pierson lands a solid leg kick. He continues to land the better punches as the crowd begin a loud chant of “Let’s go Pierson!” Riddle lands with a couple of shots, but Pierson comes back with some stiff jabs to back him up. Riddle starts to swing wildly and manages to tag Pierson a couple of times, but he takes a massive risk in grabbing a guillotine and dropping for it, and Pierson slips free and they come back up to standing. One minute to go and Riddle chases him with punches, but Pierson jogs away and looks for a takedown. Riddle stuffs it and gets on top in half-guard, but it looks like the Canadian might be going for a kimura. Pierson scrambles, but Riddle stays on top in butterfly guard and ends the round with some punches. Close round there but I’d lean slightly towards Pierson again, 10-9.

Third and final round and Riddle looks pretty fired up coming in. He comes out swinging wild again but gets popped by a couple of Pierson jabs. Flurry from Riddle but he leaves his chin up and Pierson lands a pair of hard counters again. Both men land leg kicks and then Pierson clocks him with two more stiff jabs as Riddle pushes forward swinging. Riddle looks much fresher but he’s still eating the cleaner punches here. Another trade goes the way of Pierson but Riddle evidently has a pretty stout chin. Good left hand lands for Pierson. Big cut over Pierson’s right eye now but he’s still landing the better shots in my opinion despite Riddle being the aggressor. Crowd are way into this. Another trade-off ends with Pierson landing a hard right. Good leg kick follows for the Canadian. Pierson’s face is very bloody now. One minute to go and they continue to trade punches. Takedown attempt from Riddle but Pierson sprawls and blocks it and it looks like he might be setting up for a Peruvian necktie, but he doesn’t go for it. Riddle stops him from spinning to the back though and it looks like Pierson might be content to ride the round out in this position. Riddle manages to break off with seconds to go though, and they wildly trade before Pierson shoots on the buzzer.

I’ve got this 30-27 Pierson but I could see 29-28 too. Either way it has to be Pierson’s fight unless the Leonard Garcia Rule comes into play! Judges have it 30-27, 30-27, 30-27 for Sean Pierson. Really good fight and it was the sort of thing Dana White creams over on TUF with all the wild swinging from Riddle, but in reality Riddle was outmatched as his cruder striking couldn’t match Pierson’s more technical style and he couldn’t take the Canadian down either. I don’t think Pierson gets that far in the 170lbs division – I’m guessing Jake Ellenberger will murder him in his next fight – but this was a strong debut win for the guy. Riddle should probably bounce back from this a better fighter, as he’s essentially learning on the job in the UFC, but if Zuffa decide to start sending some guys to Strike Force for some development then he’d be one of the top candidates on my list for that.

Middleweight Fight: Rafael Natal vs Jesse Bongfeldt

Brazilian prospect Natal had come into the UFC with a bit of fanfare (from hardcore fans at least) in September after he’d KOd Travis Lutter on a smaller show, but then ended up totally disappointing in a flat showing against TUF alum Rich Attonito. Bongfeldt was another debutant I knew very little about, so I figured Natal would get over the “Octagon shock” that had likely plagued him against Attonito and would likely come out on top.

Fight begins and Natal catches a kick early and goes for a takedown. He gets Bongfeldt down into butterfly guard and looks to pass, but the Canadian goes for a reversal. Natal stays on top, but Bongfeldt escapes to his feet and narrowly avoids a big right hook. He charges forward, but Natal meets him with a nice takedown and lands in half-guard. Quick escape into full guard from Bongfeldt and the action slows down a bit. Couple of shots land for Natal and he looks to pass and takes the back as Bongfeldt rolls, but he can’t get body control and the Canadian turns into the guard. Natal quickly reverses and they come back to their feet before the Brazilian trips Bongfeldt down again. He looks for a potential guillotine and then manages to take the back standing. Nice trip from Natal puts Bongfeldt down and this time both hooks are in. Bongfeldt looks in trouble as Natal almost gets the choke sunk, but he can’t finish it and a mistake allows Jesse to turn into the guard of the Brazilian. Natal looks to go for a leg, but Bongfeldt defends and they come to their feet. Trip attempt from Bongfeldt and he lands on top and gets to full mount! Natal quickly reverses that though, but slips off the back and winds up in guard again. Bongfeldt passes to side mount and then full mount on the buzzer. Pretty frenetic action there. I’d probably go 10-9 Natal but it was close.

Round Two and Bongfeldt quickly pushes forward and decks Natal with a right hand! Big right follows over the top but Natal goes for a leg. Jesse spins free and starts to rain down with punches as Natal rolls, and he ends up pinning Natal in a seated position by the cage before taking mount. Bongfeldt elbows the side of the shoulders before taking the back, but he loses one hook in a scramble and Natal manages to get on top where he goes for a guillotine. He can’t get it and they end up clinched on the fence, but Bongfeldt goes for a takedown. Natal blocks with a kimura attempt, and then grabs the fence to avoid a takedown and earns a warning. They separate and Natal looks exhausted now. He still manages to get a good takedown though and lands in side mount. Bongfelt rolls for an arm, but he has no body control and Natal stays on top and takes the back. Like earlier Bongfeldt defends the choke, so Natal switches to full mount and lands some punches. Bongfeldt attempts to turn, so Natal takes the back again, but this time Bongfeldt reverses free. A wild scramble sees them go down before popping up into the clinch, where the Canadian lands a hard knee to the gut. Takedown from Bongfeldt, but Natal stuffs it and spins onto the back. One hook in for the Brazilian and now Bongfeldt looks gassed, and gives full mount before escaping. He ends up giving his back again though and Natal gets both hooks in and almost gets the choke before the round ends. Another close round for Rafael Natal in my book.

Round Three and really this fight is still in the balance as I could see either round going Bongfeldt’s way with different judges, especially the second. They begin...but Natal’s forgotten his mouthpiece and referee Dan Miragliotta has to call time. They finally get going and both men look gassed as Bongfeldt stuffs a takedown. Couple of sloppy missed punches lead into a clinch where Bongfeldt lands a hard knee and then breaks. Bongfeldt looks a little fresher and he’s the aggressor now, but his punches look pretty bad at this stage. Good leg kick lands though. Natal tries a trip but it’s easily blocked. Another attempt sees Natal literally diving for a leg, but Bongfeldt blocks it again. Holy shit Natal is gassed. Couple of leg kicks land for Bongfeldt and he’s really pushing it now. Punches land and Natal drops to his back, taking some more abuse on the way down. Natal has half-guard but he’s in deep trouble. Full mount for Bongfeldt and he desperately tries to break Natal’s grip on his body. Good punches get through for the Canadian and it looks like he might be able to stop the fight. Natal almost gets a reversal, but Bongfeldt remains on top in half-guard dropping elbows. Natal tries to sweep, but he’s too tired and the Canadian remains on top landing shots. Full mount again with a few seconds on the block, but he can’t finish it off. Bongfeldt’s round but I wouldn’t say enough for a 10-8, so I’d have this 29-28 Natal. Could easily go the other way though.

Judges have it....30-30, 30-30, 30-30 for a draw? Well, it turned out that Bruce Buffer made a fuck-up and the scores were actually 28-28, 28-28 and 29-28 Natal for a majority draw, which makes more sense. In fact that’s one of the better decisions I’ve seen recently as while I would’ve had it 29-28 Natal, you have to ask yourself if the guy taking a beating in the third round REALLY deserves to win the fight. Well, after winning two rounds maybe, so a draw’s probably the right call. This was hardly the most technically proficient match but it was entertaining as hell as both men came out and went balls to the wall, particularly in the first round, so no complaints from me. Another one that probably had Dana creaming in the front row.

Lightweight Fight: Mark Bocek vs Dustin Hazelett

Hazelett’s fall from grace was one of the most shocking things to happen in 2010 in my opinion, as he’d gone from looking like a surefire future title contender in 2008 to returning from injury to get absolutely smashed by Paul Daley and Rick Story, ending with dropping to 155lbs for this fight – a weight where he’d looked completely drained in his only other fight there in 2007. I love Dustin’s style but on paper this was an awful match for him as Bocek is a more natural 155lber and has arguably a better grappling game than McLovin too. I ended up picking Bocek by decision.

Random observation but referee Phillipe Chartier looks like Yves Lavigne on steroids. Round One begins and Bocek immediately closes the distance and gets a single leg trip into Dustin’s guard. Hazelett looks for the rubber guard right away, but Bocek looks calm and he passes into half-guard. Hazelett tries to get full guard back right away and then slaps the rubber guard on again. Bocek is having none of it though and showing his own grappling chops, makes his way into side mount. Good escape from Hazelett to get half-guard back, but Bocek makes him pay with some sharp elbows. Hazelett tries a takedown of his own and then rolls to his back, recovering half-guard again in the process. Good pass from Bocek puts him in full mount though and he immediately looks to lock up a topside triangle. It’s locked in and he rolls to his back, and Hazelett tries to hold on, but eats some elbows and eventually taps out. Crowd blow the roof off for the finish.

Did not expect to see McLovin get tapped in a million years, but that’s the difference between a flashy but relatively new BJJ black belt and a very experienced one with years of top-level competition I guess. Will this be the beginning of a run to the top for Bocek, something he’s threatened to do for a long time? Possibly, but then he has to get past Ben Henderson first which isn’t exactly an easy fight. We shall see!

Middleweight Fight: Dan Miller vs Joe Doerksen

After a horrendously tough run of fights (Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Michael Bisping) Miller was finally able to pick up a win in August over John Salter, and this seemed like another winnable fight for him too as while Doerksen always brings it, to me he seems a little past his best now and I thought Miller had him trumped in all areas.

Fight begins and Miller pushes forward with a right hand to the body. Big swing from Doerksen doesn’t connect cleanly and Miller keeps his distance. Good takedown from the Jersey native and he lands in Doerksen’s butterfly guard. Into half-guard for Miller and he defends a sweep before grabbing a guillotine off a scramble. Doerksen shows he’s learned from the CB Dollaway loss and this time manages to pop his head free as Miller lands on top in half-guard. Back to butterfly guard for Doerksen and then he switches to a closed guard. Couple of solid elbows land for Miller before Doerksen kicks him away and connects with a clean upkick. Miller drops back into the guard though and lands a couple more elbows. Miller stays in the guard doing some ground-and-pound and the round ends in that position. Easy 10-9 Miller even if it wasn’t that entertaining.

2nd round and they exchange a few strikes before Miller hits a takedown. Beautiful sweep by Doerksen puts him on top though and the Canadian lands some good punches that get the crowd excited. Miller manages to hold him off in full guard though and it looks like he might be prepping for a triangle choke. Doerksen scrambles free of the attempt, but it allows Miller up in the process and he tackles the veteran down to guard. Looks like Doerksen might have a bloody nose. He tries to use a kimura to sweep Miller, but Dan blocks it well for a moment, until Doerksen looks like he might have it locked up! Miller seems in trouble, but manages to gut it out and remains on top. Miller works with some ground-and-pound and looks to pass, but the round ends with Doerksen working some elbows from the bottom. Close round but I’d go with Doerksen as he came closer to finishing despite being on the bottom for a while, so 19-19 going into the third.

Round Three and both men swing with right hands before Miller catches a leg and gets the takedown to guard. Couple of elbows open Doerksen’s nose again and there’s a lot of blood coming from there now. Really solid elbows land for Miller before he narrowly avoids a sweep attempt. Looks like Miller might be cut too actually, though I can’t tell from the camera angle. Doerksen’s moustache is red with blood now, urgh! Both men continue to exchange short strikes from inside the guard of Doerksen before Miller uses a reversal attempt to pass to half-guard. Doerksen works full guard back in but he looks a bit tired now too. Less than a minute to go and I’m guessing the fight is going to end here. Seconds left and Miller postures out of a triangle attempt. That’s the fight and I’ve got it 29-28 Dan Miller.

Judges have it a split decision, 29-28 Miller, 29-28 Doerksen and 29-28 for Dan Miller. Don’t see how you could give that fight to Doerksen but whatever, the right guy won in the end. Not the most entertaining fight of all time as it was mainly just Miller working from inside Doerksen’s guard with the odd submission attempt, but it wasn’t like the worst of all time or anything by any means. Miller seems to have settled into the role of gatekeeper at 185lbs now which seems like a good spot for him, too.

Welterweight Fight: Thiago Alves vs John Howard

Didn’t expect Howard to fight someone this high up the ladder after he’d lost his previous fight to Jake Ellenberger, but then I guess Joe Silva was having a hard time finding an opponent for the Pitbull. Alves for his part had looked pretty terrible against Jon Fitch, but the word was that he’d really struggled with the weight cut and coming into this one he’d hooked up with nutrition guru Mike Dolce and looked in far better shape – less like a bodybuilder, more like a professional fighter – and so with his striking skill being far better than Howard’s I saw this as a comfortable win for him.

First round and Alves lands with a glancing leg kick and a straight right hand. They exchange some punches before Howard looks for the takedown, but Thiago stuffs it. Hard leg kick and a right hand follow for the Pitbull and then he clinches and throws Howard to the ground, landing in half-guard. Alves peppers him with some punches and looks to pass, then pins down the right arm to punch the face. Howard scrambles and looks for a leglock, but Thiago’s having none of that and stands back up. They circle off and exchange some more strikes and it looks like Alves is getting the better of it. Leg kick lands for Howard but he eats a hard left counter. HEAVY leg kick lands for Alves and wobbles Howard badly, holy shit did that have some power. Thiago follows with a series of hard knees that seem to have Howard hurt, but he recovers fast. Howard fires back with a leg kick of his own, but it isn’t in the same league as the one Alves landed. Thiago clips him with some more shots before Howard clinches and muscles him into the fence. Doesn’t look like he can get the Pitbull down and they break off. Another chopping leg kick from the Brazilian. Seconds to go and Alves connects with a couple more leg kicks while avoiding the big swinging counters from Howard. 10-9 Alves, very impressive round for him.

Second round begins. They circle around and Pitbull lands a couple of inside leg kicks. Good combo from Howard but he takes another kick. Good leg kick lands for Doomsday. Wild swings from Howard but they don’t really connect cleanly. Vicious leg kick from Alves. He backs Howard up with a couple of jabs and then lands another one to the leg. Combo looks to have him slightly wobbled, but that might be problems with the legs due to the kicks. Head kick glances for the Brazilian. Nice shot from Alves and he picks Howard up and slams him down to half-guard! Whoa, didn’t expect that. Alves works to pass and peppers the body with some punches, but Howard does a good job of getting back to full guard. Just over a minute remaining in the round now. Big flurry from Thiago inside the guard. Good right hand from Alves and he moves into half-guard for a moment. Good job from Howard to get back to guard but he’s taking some solid ground-and-pound here. Nice elbows from Thiago and that’s the round. 10-9 Alves and he doesn’t even look tired going to his corner.

Third round and Thiago opens with a quick combo ending with a leg kick. Howard looks to return fire with a leg kick of his own, but eats a right hand counter and another kick for his efforts. Howard pushes forward swinging and then ducks for a takedown, but Alves blocks it and breaks off. Nice leg kick from Doomsday but Alves backs him up with some strikes. Another good leg kick from Howard. He looks for a combo but Alves avoids it nicely and lands with a couple of counters too. Howard continues to push forward, but he walks into a counter right hand that drops him for a second before he bounces back up and clinches. Pretty fast recovery there but he still looks a little hurt. Alves breaks off and lands with a pair of leg kicks, but Howard keeps on firing back. Guy has heart, you’ve got to give him that. Howard continues to push the action, but he just can’t seem to land cleanly on Alves who clearly has the better technique, landing with a good combination to counter. Both men miss head kicks and then Alves lands a body kick and a head kick before avoiding the return fire. Seconds to go and Alves continues to land on him, including a jumping knee, and Howard just can’t catch him. I’ve got this 30-27 for Alves.

Judges all agree and it’s a unanimous decision for the Pitbull. This was the return of the Thiago Alves we’d seen wreck the likes of Parisyan, Hughes and Koscheck in 2008 as he came in slimmed down and in far better shape than he had for the Fitch fight and basically beat Howard in all facets of the game. His striking looked pinpoint and the takedowns and ground work he used just added to his arsenal. Howard showed heart, but couldn’t deal with Thiago standing and didn’t have much offense at all really. A little one-sided, but I thought this was a fun fight and as a Pitbull fan it was nice to see him return to form so well.

Lightweight Fight: Joe Stevenson vs Mac Danzig

Two TUF winners hooking up here, but then that’s less of a big deal these days so it barely gets mentioned. Wild that just three years ago two TUF winners fighting was an excuse to make a PPV main event (UFC 78, I’m looking at YOU)! This also sounded a little like a KOTC title fight from 2004 or something as both men made their names there. Anyway to me Stevenson’s got the better skills in all areas so I thought this would be the perfect fight for Joe Daddy to get back onto the winning track with, and probably Danzig’s swansong in the UFC to boot.

Round One and both men press the action, seemingly looking to strike. Danzig’s Justin Bieber hairdo is hilarious, by the way. Front kick from Danzig is answered by a jab from Stevenson. Stevenson takes the center of the cage now while Danzig circles on the outside. Neither man’s landed anything significant just yet. Leg kick lands from Joe Daddy and he follows with a solid jab and a body shot. Left hook from Stevenson and he’s beginning to chase forward now. Quick clinch ends with a knee from Danzig. Right hand backs Mac up and Joe really begins to come in swinging. He pushes forward again, but walks right into a BEAUTIFUL COUNTER LEFT from Danzig and GOES DOWN AND OUT FACE FIRST!~!

Holy shit, did not expect that finish at all, particularly when you consider Danzig had never shown KO power in his whole career while Joe Daddy always seemed to have a strong chin. Replay shows the shot connected absolutely perfectly though, beautiful timing. Stevenson walked right into it. Just goes to show that if you hit the guy on the perfect spot with the right shot, they’ll go down and out. Biggest win of Mac’s career? You betcha.

Lightweight Fight: Jim Miller vs Charles Oliveira

This was probably the fight I was most looking forward to on the card outside of the main event, as Miller had put together a fantastic run – 7-1 since his UFC debut – while Oliveira had looked phenomenal in his wins over Darren Elkins and Efrain Escudero. I couldn’t pick a winner here but figured if the fight went the distance Miller would probably have his hand raised, while if it were finished by KO or submission then Oliveira would probably be the victor.

We begin and Oliveira throws a high kick right away that Miller deflects. Single leg attempt from the Brazilian is stuffed. Another head kick is blocked but a leg kick lands, and Oliveira follows with another high kick but Miller gets a takedown. Oliveira grabs the head to attempt a guillotine, but Miller looks fine and works into half-guard. The Brazilian goes for a kimura and then gets to full guard, where he continues to work his hips to look for submissions. Triangle attempt follows but Miller easily postures out. Good elbow from Miller but Oliveira almost gets an armbar. Jim does a good job of avoiding though so Oliveira transitions to a kneebar attempt...but leaves his own leg open in the process and Miller locks up a kneebar of his own and FORCES THE TAPOUT!~!

Man, that was an AWESOME submission. One of the best of the year by far. Not as nasty looking as Carlos Eduardo Rocha’s kneebar from UFC 122, but this one was slicker as Miller countered a kneebar attempt from Oliveira right into one of his own. Amazing stuff. I guess as everyone was so high on Oliveira’s submission game (myself included) Miller’s own BJJ black belt got a bit overlooked and in the end he made everyone eat some crow. For me Jim is definitely one of the best 155lbers in the world right now – possibly top five even in terms of talent – and I think 2011 is the year where he’ll really prove that. Two sick finishes in a row now on this card.

Heavyweight Fight: Stefan Struve vs Sean McCorkle

Naturally everyone was complaining that this was second from the top, but hey, it wasn’t like Zuffa were promoting it as the “co-main event” or anything – this was clearly a one-fight card from a selling standpoint. This was somewhat hard to pick as McCorkle’s only exposure was his submission win over a past-his-prime Mark Hunt, and while Struve had looked good at times (vs. Paul Buentello, vs. Chase Gormley) he’d also looked terrible at others (vs. Roy Nelson, vs. Junior Dos Santos). I ended up taking Struve in the end, mainly based on having more UFC experience. Hard to believe that Struve is only 22, also. So much potential there.

First round gets underway and they circle before Struve clips him with a right hand. McCorkle quickly responds with a slam and passes into half-guard. He looks for a kimura on the left arm and has it cranked up behind the back, but the fence allows Struve some breathing space and he manages to escape, although McCorkle remains in side mount. Scramble from Struve puts him back in guard though and McCorkle looks slower now, throwing some crude, flailing punches. Struve looks for an armbar but it doesn’t look all that deep, and McCorkle postures free. Struve uses good wrist control from the bottom and lands a couple of clean shots, and then the crowd start chanting for GSP one fight early. Ha! McCorkle tries a can opener to open the guard, but Struve locks up a kimura from the bottom and uses it as a sweep, landing in full mount! Big pop from the crowd and Struve OPENS UP with a flurry that causes McCorkle to roll to his side, and referee Yves Lavigne stops it there.

Pretty impressive win for Struve as he weathered an early storm to take over and smash McCorkle in what was a short and entertaining fight. Like I said before the sky would appear to be the limit for Struve and he has all the time in the world to develop, too.

UFC World Welterweight Title: Georges St-Pierre vs Josh Koscheck

This was built as one of the biggest fights of 2010 (probably fourth in fact behind Lesnar/Velasquez, Lesnar/Carwin and Rampage/Rashad) and obviously they had a lot of exposure through TUF 12 as well, but to me the “feud” felt very one-sided as GSP hadn’t seemed fazed by any of Koscheck’s antics. Despite a lot of fans seeing Koscheck as a big threat to St-Pierre’s crown too, I wasn’t buying it, as GSP pretty much whitewashed him in their first fight and despite a couple of highlight reel KO’s since (Hazelett, Yoshida, Trigg) I didn’t think Koscheck had actually improved all that much, particularly in his striking where he still tends to throw telegraphed jab/overhand right combos. With GSP looking better and better every time he fights I thought he’d keep this one on the feet and use his superior striking to knock Koscheck out, making every Canadian fan in the building happy in the process.

Crowd give GSP pretty much the biggest babyface pop you’ll ever hear in the UFC while Koscheck gets absolutely booed out of the building. The crowd really hate this guy. He even refuses to touch gloves, just like a proper heel.

And here we go! They come right out and GSP pops him with a stiff jab right off the bat. Another jab lands for the champ and then he shoots and takes Koscheck down. Koscheck immediately uses the fence to get up though and breaks off. Another jab from Georges connects and he follows with a double jab into a right hand as the crowd begin the “ole ole ole” chants. Koscheck’s right eye looks marked up already from the jabs. Takedown attempt from St-Pierre but this time Kos stuffs it and clips him with a right on the way out. GSP goes right back to landing the jab over and over and following with the right hand on a couple of occasions too. As I suspected it doesn’t look like Koscheck’s got an answer for this in his striking arsenal. GSP looks to switch things up with another takedown, but again Koscheck manages to defend it. Couple of wild swings miss for Koscheck and he eats a few more stiff jabs. Looks like Kos is wincing. Head kick just glances for the champion. St-Pierre is just eating him up with the jab here. One minute to go in the round and Koscheck looks for a takedown, but GSP works to defend. Koscheck keeps driving forward though and finally manages to connect his hands on a double leg to get St-Pierre down. Thankfully Joe Rogan does not suggest that this might “steal the round” for Koscheck. Round ends in GSP’s guard but it’s an easy round in the books for the champion, 10-9.

Koscheck’s right eye looks in a MESS already, all cut up and swollen. They come into the 2nd and the crowd begin a deafening “GSP!” chant as the champ gets right back to landing the jab and the inside leg kick. Superman jab lands to the body. Koscheck is pretty much reduced to throwing the overhand right and it’s only been a round and a half. More jabs have Koscheck’s eye practically closed. Beautiful leg kick from St-Pierre. He’s doing an amazing job of gauging the distance too as Koscheck just can’t seem to land on him at all. Nice superman punch lands right to the eye for the champion. This is the best use of the jab I’ve seen in MMA since BJ Penn against Sean Sherk I think. Body kick lands for GSP and he avoids the attempt from Koscheck at grabbing it for a takedown. Big one-two wobbles the challenger’s legs. Another hard combo lands but GSP refuses to get too wild and continues with his same gameplan. Superman punch-leg kick combo lands. Finally Koscheck catches St-Pierre coming in with an uppercut, but it doesn’t really faze the Canadian. More jabs and double jabs from GSP and that’s the round. 10-9 St-Pierre and Koscheck’s eye looks like HELL.

Between rounds we get an absolutely SICK visual from Koscheck’s corner as Leon Tabbs tries to get the swelling on his eye down and it looks like something moves under his skin. Looks like a broken orbital bone to me.

Third round and GSP jabs him again and then lands a right hand to follow. Koscheck is beginning to look lost in there, being picked apart by a far superior striker. Takedown attempt from GSP but Koscheck blocks it and they end up clinched. Koscheck manages to force GSP back into the fence, but GSP quickly turns it back around and they exchange knees to the thighs. GSP drops for a takedown but again Kos blocks it. Finally they break off and GSP lands the stiff jab instantly. More jabs from the champion and they tie up again and exchange some knees before breaking. Nice inside leg kick by GSP, followed by another jab. Seriously, I am in awe of Georges St-Pierre. Less than a minute to go and Koscheck just doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do, lunging for a takedown that GSP sidesteps like a matador. Round ends with GSP continuing to land. This is a total shutout. 10-9 GSP.

Between rounds the doctor checks Koscheck’s eye and it looks like he’s going to stop the fight, which HORRIFIES Joe Rogan who rants and raves about getting the quack out of there. Well, that’s bullshit, if Koscheck can’t see or has a broken eye socket then the doctor needs to stop the fight for the safety of the fighter. You can’t just throw out the idea of safety if a guy is seriously hurt or can’t see. How Rogan can argue that “he’s fine” I don’t fucking know if he’s only got one eye to see out of. Somehow the doctor decides to let it go on. Insane. I would’ve stopped the fight there.

Fourth round and Koscheck comes out swinging, but GSP jabs him and lands the inside leg kick again. Takedown attempt from St-Pierre and this time he gets it, taking the back too as Koscheck stands. GSP muscles him down and so Koscheck rolls for a leglock, but St-Pierre’s having none of it and he spins out and takes the back standing again where he lands a knee to the bad eye. Kos manages to turn back into him and they end up clinched on the fence. Referee Herb Dean calls a break as they slow down, and for Koscheck it’s back to square one as he eats more jabs. A couple of Koscheck’s swings are getting through, but nothing significant. Left hand clearly hurts the challenger and he slips to the ground after another exchange. Two minutes to go now. Beautiful left hook connects for GSP. Sick double jab snaps Koscheck’s head back. GSP is just teeing off with the jab and left hook now and it continues until the round ends. 10-9 GSP.

Koscheck looks in serious pain in his corner, knocking the ice off his eye and constantly wincing as it’s clearly agonizing for him. His corner ought to consider throwing in the towel, but no dice. Fifth round and I’m amazed the doctor hasn’t called a stop to this. GSP opens with the jab and a left hook before shrugging off a takedown. Wild overhand right misses for the challenger and GSP continues to fire off the jab. Left hook wobbles Kos’s legs but he recovers fast. It does him no good though as he eats another series of jabs. Big right hook lands for the champion as Koscheck clearly couldn’t see it coming. They clinch again and this time we get a close-up of Kos’s face, the dude is clearly in pain. Takedown from St-Pierre and he dumps Kos on his head when he stands. Good job from Koscheck of working to his feet again, but GSP stays on him, forcing him into the fence. GSP breaks off with thirty seconds to go and Koscheck misses an awful spinning kick. GSP backs him up with more shots – including another super-stiff jab – and that’s the fight. Incredible performance as per usual from St-Pierre.

All three judges have it 50-45 for St-Pierre, giving him his third five-round shutout in a row. Amazing stuff really even if he didn’t manage to put Koscheck away. If anything, a knockout would’ve been more merciful for the challenger, who ended up walking away with a badly broken orbital bone and will be on the shelf for some time. I suspected coming in that GSP would have the superior stand-up, and I was proven right in that, as the tone was set from the very first jab. St-Pierre’s striking was light years beyond Koscheck’s and the challenger looked lost in there once he seemed to realize one of his haymakers wasn’t going to connect. This was GSP’s fifth straight title defense, for those wondering, meaning he’s equalled Matt Hughes’s record at Welterweight and can break it when he fights Jake Shields in a couple of weeks. Where he goes if that happens I’m not sure, but I personally hope he stays at 170lbs and continues to dominate as unlike some I don’t see the problem with that at all. The guy is a phenom and it’s an honour to be able to watch him compete.

-Highlight reel finishes the night off.

Final Thoughts....

I thought this was one of the best UFC shows of 2010 even if it didn’t quite match up to the best two of the year (116 and 117) due to a lot of the prelims not having exciting finishes, and the lack of a real classic fight. Best fight on the card is probably Pierson-Riddle, but the obvious highlight as long as you’re a GSP fan is the main event, as he once again proved exactly why he’s the best 170lbs fighter in the world and probably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world too. Throw in one of the best submissions of the year (Miller-Oliveira), one of the best knockouts (Danzig-Stevenson), and a handful of other fun bouts (Struve-McCorkle, Alves-Howard, Natal-Bongfeldt) and you’ve got a pretty easy thumbs up. High recommendation for UFC 124.

Best Fight: Pierson-Riddle
Worst Fight: Miller-Doerksen

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Coming Soon....

UFC: 125-128, Fight Night 23, Versus 3
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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