MONTREAL — Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre administered some Canadian justice Saturday night, laying a clinical beating on trash-talking American Josh Koscheck at UFC 124.
The mixed martial arts fight went the distance with St-Pierre winning 50-45 on all three judges’ card.
The 29-year-old from Montreal carved up Koscheck’s face with his jab and punished his legs with kicks before a delirious crowd at the Bell Centre.
Tired of Koscheck’s lip and childish antics during their time as coaches on the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, 5-1 favourite St-Pierre (21-2) had promised “the bully will get bullied.”
And he delivered, although he did not achieve his goal of a stoppage in his fifth successful title defence.
The animated capacity crowd, which started chanting “GSP!” during the co-main event, still loved it.
“I didn’t reach my goal tonight. My goal was to take him out but he was very tough,” said St-Pierre, who paid tribute to Koscheck for coming to Montreal to fight.
The 33-year-old Koscheck (17-5) was game but was beaten to the punch all night, especially after his right eye was all but battered closed.
Koscheck called St-Pierre “a true champion” and finally won some cheers for thanking Montreal for putting on a great show.
In May at UFC 113 in Montreal, Koscheck had dissed both St-Pierre and the Montreal Canadiens, prompting UFC president Dana White this week to say an entire country was rooting for Koscheck to get his ass kicked.
The UFC made a point on fight night to show a clip from the reality TV show of Koscheck saying he didn’t like losing, especially to “a French guy.”
St-Pierre won a decision over Koscheck when they met at UFC 74 in August 2007 and has not lost a round since.
Koscheck smiled as he came in to thundering boos and the pulsating beat of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground.”
The champion might have well have come in on a white horse. But St-Pierre, looking all-business, entered to a billowing tsunami of cheers and French hip-hop.
At the stroke of midnight ET, it was finally time to fight. And the Bell Centre was rocking.
Koscheck declined to touch gloves before the fight.
St-Pierre took Koscheck down early but the challenger fought his way back up. Then St-Pierre began successfully working the jab. Koscheck fought off two more takedown and took GSP down as the round ended.
The crowd roared between rounds when a video screen showed a cut and swelling below Koscheck’s right eye.
In the second, the crowd sang “Ole, Ole, Ole” and GSP kept throwing the jab as Koscheck’s eye began to close.
The chants got ruder as the round wore on. St-Pierre controlled the round with punches and kicks, using the jab like a scalpel.
Koscheck’s face was a road map of bruises and knots after the second round, while St-Pierre looked fresh as a daisy.
A GSP takedown failed in the third and they clinched at the fence. Every St-Pierre punch was cheered.
The doctor took a long look at Kocheck’s eye after the third.
St-Pierre scored a big takedown in the fourth but Koscheck got up quickly as the standup battle continued.
It was more of the same in the fifth, with the champion snapping out his jab and scoring a takedown.
The two shook hands and embraced after the fight.
In the co-main event, six-foot-11 Dutch heavyweight Stefan (Skyscraper) Struve stopped six-foot-seven Sean (Big Sexy) McCorkle via TKO at 3:55 of the first round.
McCorkle (10-1) took Struve down first and had him in some distress with a kimura attempt at the fence but the Dutchman escaped and reversed position to get into mount, from where he battered McCorkle from above.
Struve (25-4), upset at some of McCorkle’s pre-fight comments, seemingly couldn’t wait to fight. He stripped off his hat and T-shirt en route to the cage.
But the two made nice in the cage afterwards.
Canadian fighters went 3-2 with one draw on the undercard with John (The Bull) Makdessi and Sean Pierson winning their debuts and Jesse (The Water) Bongfeldt leaving his first trip to the Octagon with a draw.
Lightweight Mark Bocek of Woodbridge, Ont., put on a quick jiu-jitsu clinic as he spoiled Dustin Hazelett’s debut at 155 pounds. Bocek (9-3) took Hazelett (14-7) down within 20 seconds and then neatly rolled him into a triangle, forcing him to tap at 2:33 of the first round.
After improving his UFC record to 5-3, Bocek called out Australian George Sotiropoulous for a fight in Toronto.
On the main card, powerful welterweight Thiago Alves used his Muay Thai skills to win a unanimous 30-37 decision over John (Doomsday) Howard. A superior striker, the bigger Alves (23-6) knocked Howard (14-6) down in the third.
In a battle of past Ultimate Fighter winners, Mac Danzig knocked out Joe (Daddy) Stevenson with a precise counter left to the chin as Stevenson attempted an uppercut.
Stevenson (36-12) fell face first and Danzig (21-8-1) threw two hammer-fists before the referee rushed in at 1:54 of the first round.
“Hit the jaw, the guy goes out,” said Danzig.
Jim Miller (19-2) upset rising lightweight star Charles Oliveira (14-1), forcing him to submit to a knee bar at 1:59 of the first round.
The 21-year-old Brazilian, the youngest fighter on the UFC books, landed on his back early and tried a variety of submissions. He was looking for a leg hold of his own before he was caught.
Miller felt he had been overlooked going into the fight.
“I just wanted to go out there and prove a point,” said Miller, whose brother Dan also won on the night.
The cheers started for the Canadian fighters from the get-go, with Montreal lightweight Makdessi getting the love first as he dominated Pat (Awesomely Awesome) Audinwood (9-2-1).
Despite giving up four inches in height and eight in reach, the five-foot-eight Makdessi (8-0) never stopped moving forward and convincingly won by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).
Pierson, a 34-year-old Toronto welterweight, won an entertaining slugfest over Matt Riddle. The former account manager at Dell Computers dropped Riddle (5-2) in the first but the American rallied in the second and the third was a standup war that left both men bloody.
Pierson (11-4) turned pro in 1999 and had quit on his UFC dream several times to focus on his day job and family.
Bongfeldt, a hard-nosed middleweight from Kenora, Ont., used an overpowering third round to gain a majority draw with Rafael Natal. Two judges scored it 28-28 and the third awarded it 29-28 to Natal.
Natal (12-3-1) had more technique while Bongfeldt (15-4-1) had the clear edge in power.
Welterweight T.J. Grant of Cole Harbour, N.S., (16-5) had his hands full with Ricardo (Big Dog) Almeida (13-4), losing a 30-27 unanimous decision in a disappointing performance that saw Grant controlled and punished on the ground.
Veteran Winnipeg middleweight Joe Doerksen (46-14) lost a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) to Dan Miller (13-4, with one no contest) in another bout contested mainly on the ground.
Doerksen was the only Canuck to win at UFC 113 when Canadians went 1-7.
Next up for the UFC in Canada is Toronto on April 30 at Rogers Centre. UFC officials spent the week escorting Ontario officials and showing them the ropes at the show — the organization’s fourth in Montreal.
UFC officials expected a record North American MMA crowd of 23,000-plus Saturday.
UFC 83 attendance in Montreal in April 2008 was 20,011, which broke the then North American MMA record of 19,049, set at UFC 68 on March 3, 2007, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The Montreal Canadiens usually draw 21,000-plus to home games at the Bell Centre.
The UFC also anticipated a world record MMA gate in excess of the current UFC record of US$5,397,300 from UFC 66 in Las Vegas, which featured a rematch between Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell and Tito (The Huntington Beach Bad Boy) Ortiz.
Tickets for the Montreal show ranged from $75 to $600.