Gregory Payan / AP
Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 | 11 p.m.
There’s no question Georges St. Pierre has figured out how to win fights as a mixed martial artist.
Now he’s trying to figure out how to finish more of them.
St. Pierre (20-2) has been as dominant as any fighter in the sport during his nine-year professional career — not leaving much to criticize in the process.
If there is one criticism it’s that the welterweight champion has lost his desire to finish fights as of late. Three of his last four wins have come by way of decision, despite the fact he had two extra rounds of time to finish his opponent in each.
It’s a criticism St. Pierre says he’s ready to challenge in his next fight, a title bout and rematch against Josh Koscheck (15-4) on Dec. 11 in Montreal, Quebec.
“I want to finish fights,” St. Pierre said. “I want the killer instinct. If I have the chance to finish the fight, I’m going to take it.”
Of course, it’s not uncommon for a fighter to promise a finish during the week he’s scheduled to headline a UFC event.
But St. Pierre’s interest in finishing more fights appears to be genuine, as evidenced by the fact he sought out highly regarded boxing trainer Freddie Roach earlier this year.
St. Pierre’s strength has always been in his wrestling and he’s typically looked at striking as a way to make his takedowns harder to defend.
After working with Roach, who trains eight-time world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, St. Pierre says he’s developed a striking style focused more on knocking an opponent out.
“I’ve been working a lot in punching power,” St. Pierre said. “A lot of the mechanics I was doing was wrong and (Roach) corrected me. In my first fight with Josh, when I was striking, it was to set up my takedowns. This time, it will be to knock him out.”
No one has been more willing to bring up St. Pierre’s recent run of conservatism than Koscheck, who referred to him as a boring fighter and a boring person when the two coached against one another on the reality series “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Koscheck is well aware of St. Pierre’s work with Roach but isn’t all too convinced that will be enough to change his style.
“I know how Georges St. Pierre wants to fight,” Koscheck said. “Regardless of who he trains with, his game plan is to use his speed, get inside and try to take me down.”
Koscheck was also less than intimidated by a prediction made by Roach in earlier reports that St. Pierre would win by knockout in the second round. Roach’s predictions have become famous in boxing for their accuracy.
“My mom predicts a second round knockout for me,” Koscheck said.
Although Koscheck doesn’t expect it to happen, a less-conservative form of St. Pierre would be a welcome sight for any fans who have become restless with his recent style.
St. Pierre started his career with five straight stoppage wins and had memorable finishes against the likes of Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk and Matt Hughes en route to winning the welterweight title.
Some critics say he’s never been the same, however, since suffering a first-round TKO loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in April 2007.
Since that loss, St. Pierre is undefeated but has perhaps relied more on his wrestling than before.
Whether St. Pierre and Greg Jackson, the man he trusts to write his game plans, have something aggressive in mind for Koscheck won’t be revealed until Dec. 11.
According to Koscheck, maybe St. Pierre really is learning more ways to finish fights in his training.
But learning how to finish a fight and actually taking the risk of going for it are two different things.
“Is he going to be a boring Greg Jackson fighter?” said Koscheck. “Or is he going to have the balls to stand and go toe-to-toe with me?”