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Saturday, December 11, 2010
Updated: December 12, 10:30 AM ET
Who's next for Georges St. Pierre?

By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com

MONTREAL -- What now?

After the brutal beating that Georges St. Pierre put on Josh Koscheck at the Bell Centre, there is no need for a third performance.

This beating was far worse than the one that Koscheck suffered at the hands of St. Pierre in August 2007. At least during that fight, Koscheck won a round.

He didn't sniff a 10-point round Saturday night at UFC 124.

For five rounds, St. Pierre (21-2-0) repeatedly punched Koscheck in the face. He constantly delivered left kicks that often landed just above Koscheck's left knee.

From the opening round 'til the final horn, there was never a doubt that Koscheck (17-5-0) wouldn't deliver the knockout he had guaranteed before the fight. There was even less of a possibility that he'd leave UFC 124 as welterweight champion.

The only positive Koscheck took from his lopsided -- 50-45, 50-45, 50-45 -- loss was that he went the distance. That Koscheck was able to go the full five rounds took some luster off St. Pierre's win.

"I wanted to finish him with a knockout or submission," St. Pierre told ESPN.com. "He's very tough. He's very good. He's very tough.

"My punches didn't land on his chin the way I wanted. It was a good fight, an entertaining fight, but I wanted to finish him."

St. Pierre might have come up short in his final goal, but he likely KO'd all hope that any welterweight might have of claiming the 170-pound title belt.

There are many talented welterweights, but St. Pierre is the total package. The boxing skills he displayed -- a straight, accurate left jab, a sharp right hook and above-average footwork -- make it more problematic for opponents to stand with him.

This wasn't the same St. Pierre who easily took Dan Hardy, regarded as one of the better striking welterweights in UFC, to the ground over and over during their bout in March. Had St. Pierre mastered the jab he displayed against Koscheck sooner, the Hardy fight would have looked much different.

Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves failed to put a dent in St. Pierre's armor. And does anyone really think Jake Shields, who has limited stand-up skills, will pose much of a threat?

So what are UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva to do?

UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva remains the most-talked-about opponent for St. Pierre. But Silva has a Feb. 5 date with Vitor Belfort, and a few more middleweights are waiting in the wings for their shot at the title.

A long-awaited showdown between St. Pierre and Silva at least would serve to settle the oft-discussed pound-for-pound best mixed martial artist in the world.

And with the performance St. Pierre delivered before 23,152 of his most passionate fans -- the largest MMA crowd in North American history -- a fight with Silva makes more sense than ever.

"That's obvious," White told ESPN.com. "I truly believe it's my job to give the people fights they want to see.

"We'll see what happens."

As for Koscheck: His future is in limbo. As long as St. Pierre is champion, it is highly unlikely he will get another title shot.

There are intriguing fights for Koscheck at 170 pounds, but none that will make fans or UFC clamor to see him in the cage with St. Pierre again.

Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.