Josh Koscheck, GSP’s opponent for his 16th professional fight (10th in UFC) was an NCAA Division I Champion in wrestling and was considered at the time of this fight the best wrestler in the UFC. Koscheck expanded his abilities, joining the AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) back in ’06 to make himself a dangerous striker as well. His record of 9-1 at the time of this fight reflects that all-around ability.
Georges St-Pierre had something to prove with this fight. After coming off an embarrassing loss to Matt Serra, St-Pierre needed to refocus and return to his dominant ways to regain the welterweight crown.
The fight went the distance with St-Pierre winning by unanimous decision. The first round saw St-Pierre take down Koscheck, but not accomplishing much on the ground. Koscheck escaped by grabbing St-Pierre’s left leg and standing up. While holding St-Pierre’s leg, Koscheck showed why he’s a strong wrestler by explosively taking GSP to the ground. But as with GSP previously, Koscheck accomplished little afterward.
The second round was all St-Pierre. GSP had Koscheck on his back most of the round and spent what time he wasn’t hitting Koscheck with fists and elbows trying to submit Koscheck with a kimura. Unfortunately for GSP, he didn’t have the leverage to succeed in his attempts.
Like the second round, St-Pierre dominated the third. Koscheck was on the receiving end of superman punches and leg kicks that got through his defense. When Koscheck saw an opening for a take down, he took advantage and got GSP’s left leg in the air as he did in the first round. But the result of the take down attempt was quite different. St-Pierre defended in spectacular fashion and reversed it. GSP spent the rest of the round on top of Koscheck, raining blows down on him with better effectiveness than in the first two rounds (although not enough to knock Koscheck out). The round ended just as St-Pierre moved out of Koscheck’s guard into a leg lock.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck video:
Georges St-Pierre (14-2-0) vs. Matt Hughes (UFC 79 Nemesis, Dec. 29, 2007):
In a rubber match, which determined the interim welterweight champion (belt-holder Matt Serra was out indefinitely at the time with a herniated disc in his lower back), GSP faced Matt Hughes. Hughes bounced back from his previous beating at the hands of St-Pierre to take out Chris Lytle by unanimous decision at UFC 68. Many felt that Hughes was past his prime when they saw St-Pierre beat him so easily at UFC 65, 13 months previous; in some observers’ eyes, this match would determine if that were true.
St-Pierre took this fight on 30 days’ notice. Originally it was to be Hughes vs. Serra for the welterweight title, but, as stated previously, Serra was out with an injury. St-Pierre didn’t mind the short time frame as he jumped at the chance to face Matt Hughes for a third time.
With the submission (arm bar) at the end of the second round, St-Pierre proved that Hughes was in decline (he was 34 at the time) and that he himself was the greatest welterweight in the UFC. St-Pierre dominated Hughes throughout the fight spending almost all of the two rounds mounted or on Hughes’ back. St-Pierre finished Hughes by moving from an attempted kimura into an arm bar to which Hughes verbally tapped out.
Georges St-Pierre (15-2-0) vs. Matt Serra (UFC 83 Serra vs. St-Pierre II, Apr. 19, 2008):
The rematch between GSP and Matt Serra that everyone wanted to see in order to prove that St-Pierre’s loss of the belt to Serra back at UFC 69 (April 2007) was either a fluke or showed that Serra belonged amongst the elite in the welterweight division happened in this, St-Pierre’s 18th professional fight (12th in the UFC).
Serra recovered from his back injury and was out to prove most observers wrong (a majority thought his win vs. St-Pierre was an anomaly).
Serra was no match for St-Pierre the second time around. The first fight he got lucky, tagging St-Pierre with a combination, but this time St-Pierre didn’t let the opportunity manifest itself. St-Pierre took down Serra almost immediately after the fight commenced and spent most of the remainder of the fight in Serra’s guard, half-guard or on his back.
After about a minute into the second round, when both fighters were on their feet, it was easy to see that Serra was exhausted (he had his hands down, leaving his head unprotected). Spending all of his time defending against St-Pierre and trying to escape St-Pierre’s mounts took away all his energy and when GSP took him down again, he hadn’t much strength left to defend himself. St-Pierre repeatedly kneed Serra in the ribs while Serra was in turtle position until Referee Yves Lavigne stopped the fight. GSP became welterweight champion for the second time with the win.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra II video:
Georges St-Pierre (16-2-0) vs. Jon Fitch (UFC 87 Seek and Destroy, Aug. 9, 2008):
GSP’s next opponent was wrestler, kick-boxer, and jujitsu black belt Jon Fitch. At the time of this fight, Fitch hadn’t lost since a KO by Brazilian Wilson Gouveia back in 2002 [almost 6 years previous, amassing a 16-0 record (18-2 overall)]. Since he joined the UFC in 2005, he had an 8-fight win streak (tying the record set by Royce Gracie for most consecutive wins in the UFC, later to be beaten by Anderson Silva), beating the likes of Brock Larson, Josh Burkman, and Diego Sanchez.
In Fitch, St-Pierre fought a combatant that stood taller and had a similar reach (most of St-Pierre’s fights were with shorter opponents). Fitch fought both in the light-heavyweight and middleweight divisions, so welterweight was the lightest weight he had carried. As with St-Pierre, it had shown to be an advantage to be the bigger fighter.
GSP’s title defense went well. The first round was all St-Pierre as he took Fitch down at will and even passed Fitch’s guard late in the round (the first time Fitch’s guard had been passed while fighting in the UFC). Fitch was lucky to survive as GSP dropped him with a straight right hand half way through round one then proceeded to pummel the American for the rest of the round.
The second round was an even affair with both fighters exchanging punches (St-Pierre added in two spinning back kicks as well, both of which connected). St-Pierre made an attempt at a take down, but Fitch nullified it with a good defense. What was most impressive was Fitch’s recovery from the first round. To be on his feet exchanging punches with St-Pierre after the punishment he took was nothing less than spectacular.
The third round saw St-Pierre start with a bang. When Fitch went for a jab, St-Pierre countered with a right, flooring the American. St-Pierre took Fitch’s back and had one arm in for a choke, but Fitch, who seemed like he had super human recovery skills, broke the hold and mounted St-Pierre. It didn’t take St-Pierre long to counter (it’s rare to see St-Pierre long in the guard, if at all). Fitch managed to stand and the two returned to boxing. After failing in another take-down attempt, St-Pierre tagged Fitch with a straight right, then a knee to the head, then a kick to the head, then another knee to down the American. GSP followed in with multiple strikes, but again Fitch survived until the horn to end the round.
The fourth round was uneventful, as the two fighters exchanged punches on their feet for four and a half minutes until Fitch went for St-Pierre’s leg in a failed take-down attempt, of which St-Pierre countered and tried a leg lock, but the horn sounded before it could be applied fully.
The last round found only one take down with St-Pierre doing the taking. St-Pierre applied fists and elbows, but with little enthusiasm as it seemed both fighters were tired. After the horn sounded it was announced a unanimous decision in St-Pierre’s favor and it became his first title defense.
Georges St-Pierre (17-2-0) vs. BJ Penn (UFC 94 – St-Pierre vs. Penn 2, Jan. 31, 2009):
Five months after defeating Fitch in his first title defense, St-Pierre faced the Lightweight Champion BJ Penn. The rematch (they faced each other in UFC 58) was to be heralded as one of the greatest events in UFC history as Penn, with a victory, would be the first fighter in UFC history to hold belts in two different weight classes simultaneously. Penn was busy after the loss to St-Pierre back in November ’06. First he fought Matt Hughes, replacing the injured St-Pierre, for the welterweight title. Penn beat Hughes the last time they met (UFC 46), taking the welterweight crown from the future Hall of Famer, but this time was not a repeat performance. Hughes beat Penn by TKO in the third round.
After the Hughes fight, Penn decided to go down to his usual weight and fight in the lightweight division. After beating Jens Pulver in a fight that concluded The Ultimate Fighter 5, Penn was to fight Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk, but Sherk lost his belt due to steroid use. Penn fought Joe Stevenson for the open title and won in the second round with a rear naked choke submission. Penn then defended the title against the disgraced Sherk in the third round by TKO.
It seemed Penn was in top form entering the fight with St-Pierre, but after the fight was finished, it was easy to see why GSP was, and still is, the dominant welterweight in the UFC. The beating St-Pierre put on Penn was similar to the one he put on Hughes. The first round was uneventful as both fighters just exchanged punches and kicks without causing much damage.
The second round was a whole different story. St-Pierre took Penn down and wore the 30 year old out with repeated elbows and fists. The third and fourth rounds were repeats of the first, but as each minute passed, St-Pierre found it easier and easier to pass Penn’s guard and inflict more and more damage. Penn’s corner stopped the fight before the fifth round started due to Penn being too confused and exhausted. It was St-Pierre’s second successful title defense.