A funny thing happened on Georges St. Pierre’s way to stardom.
The promising UFC welterweight champion, who'd taken the sport by storm in dethroning Matt Hughes, was embarrassed as a -600 favorite against Matt Serra this April at UFC 69. Serra scored multiple punches early and eventually ended the fight on the mat in the first round, walking away with St. Pierre’s title and a big payday as a +500 underdog.
St. Pierre will attemp to get back on the right path at this Saturday's UFC 74: Respect. But in order to reclaim his position in the welterweight division, St. Pierre must go through Josh Koscheck.
“It’s hard to tell how a guy bounces back from a devastating loss like St. Pierre's KO loss to Matt Serra,” says prominent mixed martial arts linesmaker Joey Oddessa. “Koscheck is a really tough comeback bout for St. Pierre.”
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Most sportsbooks now have St. Pierre as a -260 favorite for this weekend’s fight, but he has been bet down as low as -210 at some places due to money on Koscheck at +200.
Koscheck is a young, hungry fighter and a product of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, just like Serra. He isn’t as polished in stand-up striking as St. Pierre but the former NCAA Division I champion wrestler and four-time All-American has arguably the best take-down and mat game in the sport.
“I don’t believe Josh Koscheck is what any would call a tune-up bout to get (St. Pierre) back on track,” says Oddessa. “Koscheck is one of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers in MMA today and has been steadily improving.”
UFC bettors can be assured that St. Pierre won’t be taking his opponent lightly like he did Serra. The Quebec native told reporters following his loss that he wasn’t focused on Serra and was distracted by issues outside the cage.
Since then, St. Pierre has overhauled both his management and his training camp and has used his title loss as fuel for his upcoming bout with Koscheck.
"It's not even the old Georges St. Pierre who's going to show up. It's a brand-new version, a brand-new, better version,” he told The Canadian Press. “I will never let this thing happen again, I will never let my personal life get into my job. I learned a big life lesson, I will come back stronger for it."
Oddessa, however, isn’t a big fan of excuses when it comes to setting lines or wagering on MMA. He has a strong feeling that the standard three-round bout befits Koscheck’s strength rather than five-round title fights. The linesmaker believes the underdog has a good chance to ride out a win by decision, much like in his last two UFC fights.
“Koscheck has a legitimate chance at pulling off an upset here. The big unknown is how St. Pierre will rebound from the loss,” says Oddessa. “If St. Pierre is not aggressive and Koscheck scores some takedowns, they may be enough on the judges scorecards after three rounds.”
Fight fans can watch this weekend’s action live this Saturday on pay per view. The nine-bout card begins at 10 p.m. ET at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.