Dana White announced Thursday that the winner of the UFC 113 welterweight showdown between Paul Daley and Josh Koscheck will be next in line for a chance to challenge Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight championship. Friday, White upped the ante even more by placing the winner opposite St-Pierre as coaches on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter.
While these developments add another layer of interest to an already anticipated contest, neither are the opponent people want to see opposite GSP later this year. In both cases, it’s “been there, done that,” and we didn’t buy any t-shirts. Pushing the next appearance of the French-Canadian superstar back to December doesn’t help either.
Though no title was at stake, St-Pierre has already faced and beaten Koscheck. It was their meeting at UFC 74 where the current champion showed off what are now his well-known wrestling talents, beating the former All-American at his own game en route to a Unanimous Decision win.
While Koscheck has added solid striking to his arsenal since then, he’s also been dominated by Thiago Alves, a fighter St-Pierre had no problems dispatching at UFC 100 last July. Each fight is different and MMA math is about as reliable as television psychics, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone outside of the American Kickboxing Academy who believes Koscheck has improved enough to up-end St-Pierre.
In Daley, you have a Dan Hardy doppelganger; British, quick with the quips, fast, lethal hands and absolutely no wrestling to speak of whatsoever. Though “Semtex” has been adamant all week about improvements to his ground game since being submitted on CBS a few years back, we’ve seen decorated collegiate wrestlers dumped on their backs over-and-over against GSP. Improvements or not, Daley would be in for a long night of working off his back, just like Hardy two months ago in New Jersey.
White and the UFC need to find a challenger for their beloved welterweight champion, and at present, one of these two men is the best fit. Of the fighters who haven’t been beaten by St-Pierre in championship matches, they’re the cream of the crop. The problem is that there is a pink elephant in the corner of the room named Jake Shields that carries far more interest than either of these matchups could provide.
The impending free agent and current Strikeforce middleweight champion is a top 5 welterweight as well, and upped his asking price last month by dominating Dan Henderson for four-out-of-five rounds in Nashville. He’s also said on numerous occasions that he would like to test himself against the best in the world, and right now, that man is Georges St-Pierre.
Even St-Pierre has climbed aboard the Jake Shields bandwagon of late, telling Rogers Sportsnet, “As a proud champion, I want to fight the best and Jake Shields is the best right now.”
Of course, Shields can’t do anything until his contract with Strikeforce expires, and the UFC has to move ahead with their plans. That means the winner of this weekend’s heated battle between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley earns an opportunity to face GSP.
The champ will call the winner the toughest challenge of his career, Dana White will do the same, and by the time the fight actually rolls around, Jake Shields will be waiting in the wings for the winner.
Except that wait has been stretched out to an indefinite period now with today’s TUF 12 coaching announcement. Should Shields do as many in the MMA community believe is inevitable and make his way to the UFC, the 31-year-old will certainly want to remain active. While fights with the likes of Jon Fitch or Thiago Alves would be a great way to introduce the Strikeforce middleweight champion to the UFC crowd, they’re also dangerous encounters that could kill any momentum the Cesar Gracie student would bring with him.
But the timing of having Shields coach opposite GSP on Season 12 just doesn’t work; the show begins taping soon, and Shields is still contractually bound to Strikeforce. So instead of the fight that both the fighters and the fans want to see, we’re going to get a repeat of a battle we’ve already seen.
And we’re going to have to wait eight months to see it.