Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
MMAmania's Brian Hemminger takes a look back at last night's UFC 157 main card-opening bout between Robbie Lawler and Josh Koscheck. What helped make Lawler's Octagon return a surprisingly successful one? Find out below
Two long-time veterans got the pay-per-view started right last night (Feb. 23, 2013) as Robbie Lawler returned to the Octagon against Josh Koscheck in the opening bout of the UFC 157 main card in Anaheim, California.
Koscheck was very heavily favored, especially since it had been nearly 10 years since Lawler fought at welterweight and he had not exactly been experiencing much success in his recent Strikeforce run.
That all changed, however, after the "Ruthless" fighter landed with his powerful fists, which are always an X-factor to completely change the tide of a fight.
After a brief opening exchange on the feet, Lawler started to press the action trying to land those powerful fists, but Koscheck was having none of it as he ducked down and shot in for a takedown, dumping the former H.I.T. Squad fighter on his back.
Smartly, Lawler maneuvered himself closer to the fence and worked his way back to his feet, but that didn't stop Koscheck from repeatedly trying to put him back on the canvas as both men waged a war of attrition along the cage in the clinch.
Just when the bout seemed it might become a grueling affair, Lawler landed a good short strike. Koscheck tried to drop down for a takedown but Lawler sprawled and then started unloading right hands on the turtled TUF season one alum, connecting with some big right hands that were unanswered and forcing the referee to jump in an put a stop to the action in one of the biggest surprises of the evening.
For Josh Koscheck, he had the right idea taking Lawler down early on and working for takedowns along the fence, but he didn't quit execute the gameplan to perfection and it cost him. His first takedown came easily because Lawler was trying to knock his head off and pressing forward in open space. Once he got back to his feet, Koscheck should have backed off and waited for Lawler to give him another easy double leg, but instead he got stuck in the clinch against a fighter with very dangerous power, which he couldn't dodge nearly as easily up close. When "Kos" got tagged with a big shot, the fight was as good as over.
Some are speculating Koscheck will join his former teammate Jon Fitch in the unemployment line, but I doubt it. He's done some great things for UFC throughout the years and I think he'll end up fighting someone like Martin Kampmann, Jorge Santiago or perhaps someone further down the food chain like Seth Baczynski.
For Robbie Lawler, this was damn impressive. He looked sharp in the opening exchange of the fight and he didn't get frustrated or disheartened after being taken down in the first 30 seconds of the bout. Instead, he remained composed, worked to get back to his feet and went right back to defending takedowns along the fence. When an opportunity presented itself for him to blast Koscheck with repeated blows, he took it and connected with a series of right hands which had "Kos" in serious trouble.
While the bout may have been stopped a punch or two early, there was no way Lawler wasn't going to finish the fight in the next five seconds anyways so there really shouldn't be too any people complaining. Koscheck wasn't even fighting back at that point.