UFC 124: Ten Things We Learned

UFC 124

photo by Josh Hedges/UFC.com

The UFC set an attendance and gate record in Montreal, and Georges St. Pierre set the record straight for arch rival Josh Koscheck. UFC 124 hit every mark, and gave us a whole lot to talk about moving forward.

Jab St-Pierre

The first strike St. Pierre threw was a stiff left jab, one that landed right under Koscheck’s right eye and set the tone for the entire night. Over and over with piston-like precision, St. Pierre lands the jab in the same place, forcing Koscheck’s eye closed by the end of the first round.

For 25 minutes, the welterweight champion put on a clinic against his verbose foe, connecting at will and taking almost no damage in the process. Koscheck was like a student continually trying to solve the same math problem only to get stuck at the same place each time.

See You in Toronto?

Coming off the biggest event in UFC history, the timing would be right for St. Pierre to meet Jake Shields in the main event of the recently announced event in Toronto, a show that will nearly triple Saturday night’s attendance number.

The biggest star in the biggest market for the biggest show in the company’s history makes perfect sense. Shields remains the lone welterweight contender who we haven’t seen picked apart by St. Pierre, so while almost everyone would bet against him at this moment, the element of intrigue is still there.

While most first-time locations get mid-level events, we saw the UFC pull out all the stops for Ahu Dhabi last year (two title fights) and they should do the same in Toronto in April. This is their first foray into one of the biggest markets in North America, and it should be a major show.

No one is more major in Canada than Georges St. Pierre.

Kudos to Koscheck

For a guy who has never beaten a top 5 fighter, Koscheck has done exceptionally well for himself, and others hoping to do the same should take note.

He’s worked his ass off to improve in the cage, and while it didn’t show last night, he has proven it throughout his climb to this point. More importantly, he’s turned himself into the ultimate heel and elevated himself to headliner status in the process.

After getting tagged early and often, Koscheck could have picked up his ball and gone home on Saturday night, but he didn’t; he stepped out after every round and took another five minutes of punishment. That alone is worthy of a round of applause.

Struve Silences McCorkle

Sean McCorkle went all out on the Internet, hyping his pay-per-view debut with Stefan Struve and taking more than a couple pot shots at the Dutch heavyweight. Struve said he would do his talking in the cage, and after enduring an early scare, he did just that.

McCorkle got a quick, early takedown and worked for a kimura almost instantaneously. While it looked dangerous, Struve maintained composure, worked his way out, and eventually hit a sweep that landed him on top of his American opponent. From there, Struve wasted little time working for the finish.

The freakishly tall fighter landed a torrent of heavy shots as McCorkle covered up, leaving the referee little choice but to step in and wave off the bout. With the win, Struve moves to 5-2 in the Octagon and puts himself in a similar position to Brendan Schaub; not quite ready for the big boys, as his earlier losses to Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson indicate, but too good for the fresh and expired meat in the heavyweight ranks.

With seven UFC fights already under his belt and paired with a big heart and solid all-around skills, Struve has a very bright future.

Jim Miller Makes a Statement

Every time I talk to Jim Miller, we laugh about how he keeps racking up wins without getting a real bump up in competition. He tells me how much he hates winning decisions and wants to face the elite of the lightweight division, and we both agree that a statement victory will speed up the recognition process.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Miller.

The New Jersey native forced up-and-comer Charles Oliveira to submit just prior to the two-minute mark of the opening round, locking on a nasty looking kneebar to give the Brazilian his first professional loss. Miller exploded with emotion after the win, and had shared his thoughts with Joe Silva and Dana White after the bout as well, asking for his long-overdue opportunity.

With an impressive first-round submission pushing his winning streak to six, Miller has definitely positioned himself near the top of the list for lightweight title shots in 2011.