The welterweights were in action at the UFC on FOX 3: "Diaz vs. Miller" event going down tonight (Sat., May 5, 2012) in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as Johny Hendricks looked to earn a title shot (supposedly) against Josh Koscheck.
UFC President Dana White was quoted as saying Hendricks could earn a 170-pound championship fight if he were to emerge victorious in impressive fashion over "Kos," something that couldn't necessarily be said for Koscheck.
Never mind, though, because while it was a fun fight that went all three rounds, neither fight was altogether impressive, or not in the sense you would assume would warrant a title shot. Hendricks worked hard to come away with the split decision victory by scores of 29-28, 28-29, 29-28.
"That is one tough dude," Hendricks said in the post-fight interview. "I hit him with everything I had. Hats off to him, he's one tough guy."
There's no doubt abut that. Koscheck didn't agree with the decision, however, visibly shaking his head on camera. Any of you Maniacs agree?
Koscheck opened the fight with a strong front kick, setting up the early pace. A lot of pawing and kicking from the outside. That is until Koscheck moved in and landed a shot that appeared to catch Hendricks in the eye. Perhaps he was poked. Perhaps not. Either way, it was bothering him and "Kos" took advantage by pouncing with big punches.
"Big Rig," as game as they come, battled through the adversity and landed a few heavy shots of his own. Then he shot in and earned a takedown for good measure. They battled against the fence but the referee felt a stalemate occurred and separated the two.
Once they reset, Hendricks was winging the big left hand and hoping to land the kill shot clean. He couldn't do so, however, and they went back to exchanging shots.
By the time the first round was over, both men were battered but looked ready to dish out some more punishment after the short recess.
Sure enough, the heavy leather was back in force at the start of the second with Hendricks pushing hard with that left hand. Maybe a little too hard, actually, as Koscheck took advantage of a slip to take back control near the cage.
Shortly after, Hendricks reversed position and they went to another stalemate. It took longer for the referee to separate them but he did so eventually.
Not long after, straight punches were flying down the pipe from both fighters. Aggression was the name of the game and they both looked like pros. At this point a pop up from the UFC showed that Hendricks had the advantage in strikes, 57-25.
It sure seemed like "Kos" was doing better than that.
Hendricks tried the old "late takedown FTW" strategy but Koscheck defended until the horn sounded. Despite the stats, this one felt close headed into the final frame.
Instead of standing and trading for long to open the third, Koscheck decided to use his wrestling game to try to take control of the fight. This strategy was met with boisterous booing and the referee decided he didn't like it either, so he reset them.
And they went right back to banging it out.
This, of course, got the crowd hot again, as the two just started unloading. The damage was starting to show, too, with Koscheck's eye blowing up and Hendricks breathing heavy while staring at the clock.
Just two minutes to go.
Koscheck again worked his wrestling and landed a takedown. He worked hard to pass and almost got full mount a few times but Hendricks' defense was too good.
Or, more poignantly, his survival instinct.
The fight ended with a whimper but it was a solid slugfest and lived up to its billing. Ultimately, Hendricks probably won't earn a title shot on it but he's maybe only one win away now.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com has live ongoing coverage of the UFC on FOX 3 event with blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action right here.