Georges St. Pierre defends his welterweight title against Josh Koscheck in Montreal on Saturday night as the main event of UFC 124. We've enlisted the help of three MMA "experts" — MMA star Thiago Alves, who has faced both fighters, Showdown Joe Ferraro of Sportsnet, and our own Neil Springer — to break down the matchup and give their views of what could go down at the Bell Centre.
Describe Josh as a fighter
Showdown: His striking is top notch. Explosive right hand. A dangerous threat to George St. Pierre.
Alves: Josh is a tough competitor. He's a very skilled athlete, which has been proven in every fight, he gets better and better. He's not the kind of guy who's going to give up, especially with a wrestling mentality. He's a really, tough guy.
Describe GSP as a fighter
Showdown: At the moment he's the perfect mixed martial artists. He is the prototypical definition ... if there was ever an Oxford or a Webster's dictionary definition of what a mixed-martial artist should be ... it would be Georges St. Pierre.
Alves: GSP is the champion. He's been the champion for a while and he knows what he's capable of and I think he's in a very comfortable position right now, and another thing about GSP is his strategies are always perfect.
What makes Josh so dangerous?
Showdown: He's a good wrestler. Maybe George is better for mixed martial arts but Josh is a far more decorated wrestler and the danger is that Josh, now, is far more well-rounded than when they fought the last time.
Alves: His determination, his will to win. I think that is one of the biggest things at this level. At this level everyone has the same sort of skill but what goes through your mind, how bad you want to win, makes the difference.
What makes GSP so dangerous?
Showdown: His mind. His brain. His strategy. The ways he goes into fights. People continue to match wits with other fighters but George's goal is to take the fight to where his opponent is the weakest.
Alves: Everything the guy throws at you. When you're not prepared, or when you're not on your best game, is going to be hard to deal with. Georges is a complete fighter and he knows exactly what he's doing all the time and that's what makes him so dangerous.
Josh's best move...
Showdown: His right hook: it's fast, it's explosive. He uses it off the fake of a take down. He'll fake like he's taking a guy down, a guy drops his hands to try and stop the take down and wham, here comes the overhand right hook. So, definitely his right hand is a danger.
Springer: With Koscheck it should be his wrestling. But it's hard to say because the transitions of GSP make everything difficult no matter how good you are as an athlete, wrestler or pure striker. It's hard to say one move but I would say wrestling in general.
GSP's best move...
Showdown: The ability to take the fight wherever he wants to. To take the fight wherever his opponent is the weakest and then work from there.
Springer: Georges St. Pierre's biggest strength is not any one element, it's the ability to blend all those elements...but the way his mind works is his best tool. He's able to think things through.
Showdown: Georges St. Pierre. He's pound for pound one of the best fighters in the sport. He dominates his division and Josh isn't in that top 10 list, yet.
Alves: At this level everyone has the same set of skills but it's about how you perform. If GSP performs better, he's going to be the winner and if Koscheck performs better he's going to be the winner. So, it's about who wants it more and who is more prepared.
Springer: I think you have to put your money on St. Pierre but if history has shown anything, no matter how good one guy is, it's how good he is on that night.
How can Josh win?
Showdown: Just play his game. All he has to do is worry about Georges St. Pierre and not the reaction of the fans. He's going to have a good fight on his hands and, you never know, he can pull off a victory any time.
Springer: I think he'll win it by being smarter, which is going to be tough, in terms of technique. Maybe he shocks the world if he lands the big-right hand and drops him or wobbles him or hurts him and puts him away. He could but if he is going to win I think it will likely be by a decision.
How can Georges win?
Showdown: Take Josh where he is the weakest. Forget the wrestling and keep it standing. Work your stand up and just punish him every time he makes a mistake.
Springer: I think Georges can win the fight any way he wants. Koscheck is very tricky to submit... but St. Pierre is just that good on the ground that he could submit him.
What can we expect to see?
Showdown: I see a stand up war. I see Georges avoiding a take down at all costs and only using the take down to shock and awe Josh. It's going to be a stand up fight and then look for George St. Pierre to take him down to the ground and really suck the will to win out of him.
Springer: I think we're going to see a competitive fight. A lot of people aren't giving Koscheck the credit he deserves from the first fight. .people tend to forget how close that first fight was... he missed on a single-leg take down attempt and wound up on his back as a result. Had he gotten that take down, he probably would've won the fight.
Showdown: I'm going to go with Georges St. Pierre by a unanimous judges decision.
Springer: I hate making predictions. I predict a St. Pierre decision.
Alves: I'm really just concentrating on my own next fight.