LAS VEGAS -- He may be made in Canada, but Montreal scrapper Georges St. Pierre is the new darling of American fight fans.
The 26-year-old entered yesterday's weigh-in at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre to thunderous applause from the 5,000 fans who attended the event.
The former welterweight champ takes on Josh Koscheck tonight in his first scrap since suffering a humiliating defeat at the fists of 10-to-one underdog Matt Serra.
If popularity had any bearing on the judge's scorecard, St. Pierre would win by unanimous decision.
But St. Pierre, who despite a record of 13-and-two has had his mental fortitude called into question by fighters, pundits and even Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, says he wants to leave nothing to the judges.
"'Josh, I'm sorry, you're in my way and you're going to have to go down," St. Pierre told fans over the big screen coming in and tipping the scales at a perfect 170 lbs.
Koscheck, who was booed every time his face appeared on the mammoth monitors, continued questioning St. Pierre's mental game.
"He has a thin heart," said Koscheck, a decorated college wrestler with a record of 11-and-one.
"He's a tin man."
The two will be the co main event for tonight's UFC 74:Respect at Mandalay Bay.
UFC hall-of-famer Randy Couture, the only other fighter to receive an ovation that rivaled St.Pierre's, will also put his heavyweight title on the line against Gabriel (Napao) Gonzaga.
Gonzaga, fresh from his knockout-of-the-year win over Mirko (Cro-Cop) Filipovic, is the odds-on favourite to beat the 44-year-old Couture.
Couture came out of retirement earlier this year and beat Tim Sylvia to take the belt.
The card also features Canadian middleweight Patrick (the Predator) Cote who will put his ten-and-four record on the line against popular The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Kendall (Spider) Grove.
At yesterday's boisterous weigh-ins, Toronto's Kevin Gillespie and wife Krystal, waved a Canadian flag as Georges St. Pierre was introduced.