UFC 157, which is headlined by Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche in the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's fight later tonight (Feb. 23, 2013), is a much anticipated mixed martial arts (MMA) card that features many well-established fighters.
Josh Koscheck and Robbie Lawler will open the pay-per-view (PPV) main card this evening at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. And fight fans can expect fireworks from their Welterweight showdown.
Koscheck has been in the UFC for what seems like forever, with his first appearance coming all the way back in 2005 after a stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Across a span of 21 UFC fights, he has allotted nine finishes, four by submission and five by (technical) knockout. His bread and butter has always been his wrestling, but he's also had a tendency to throw heavy leather.
I'm going to be honest right now and say that usually the only time a Koscheck fight is exciting is when it is kept standing. So, what then makes me believe his fight with Lawler will be exciting? Well, I think "Ruthless" will give him a very stiff challenge in getting the fight to the ground.
For most of Lawler's career, he has been known as a fighter similar to Koscheck. With an affiliation to Pat Militech's once-great camp, he was always known to be a high-level wrestler (or at least train with some) and it's something he's used very well throughout his career. He doesn't use it so much to get opponents down and control them, but rather to keep it in his preferred phase of MMA: Striking.
Lawler's list of career victories is littered with knockouts and TKOs, stacking up 16 of them in his 19 career victories. Lawler's striking has never been the polished kind you'd expect from even a mid-level MMA fighter, but he's used his hard-nosed swing for the fences approach to brutal effectiveness for much of his career.
This fight will come down to a number of things, all of which lead me to believe it'll take home the unlikely "Fight of the Night" bonus. Koscheck is known to be a pretty cocky guy in and out of the cage, and that'll probably lead to him standing with Lawler for extended periods of time. From there, each man packs a heavy punch, and it'll be a war of attrition to see who can connect cleaner.
An added component to this fight is the prospect that either man can be cut after a loss here, whether its real or imagined. That's because a loss for either man here would put them on a two fight skid. And with company president Dana White claiming there are over more than 100 too many fighters on the roster, they'd better be ready to make their claim for a continued roster spot with the promotion.
Both men are not cheap.
Ultimately, I expect Lawler to put on a fight that some might find surprising when you consider his heavy underdog status. A long layoff for "Kos" may leave him at a disadvantage, and with that, Lawler can make this his kind of fight, a battle of heavy hitters. Lawler has seen it all at this point, and he should know how to at least compete with Koscheck in the wrestling department.
I expect this fight to be an all out rock 'em, sock 'em display, contested hotly on the feet, bringing fans to their feet and themselves a hefty "Fight of the Night' bonus.