Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
Josh Koscheck used timely takedowns and some solid clinch work to take a very close split decision over Mike Pierce in the third main card fight at UFC 143. Pierce arguably landed more strikes and looked to be the more effective fighter for large portions of the fight, but Kos showed off his octagon experience by picking his spots well in his 20th trip to the cage. The crowd booed the decision, which led to Koscheck flipping them off in his post-fight interview.
Pierce took approximately 10 seconds before he shot in for a takedown. He was unsuccessful, but managed to rough Koscheck up against the cage for a while. As the finally separated, Pierce landed an uppercut and right. Pierce looked for a takedown again, but the two battled in the clinch instead. They finally opened up with 90 seconds left in the round, with both fighters landing bombs. Pierce managed to scoop a leg late, but was again unable to get Kos to the ground.
Pierce started the second where he ended the first, with a single leg. Koscheck escaped, but ate a Pierce combination in the clinch. Pierce landed consistently with his jab, but ended up with a cut up in his hairline from an accidental headbutt. Pierce continued to bully Koscheck in the clinch, and Kos didn't really have an answer. Finally it's Koscheck's turn to shoot in for a takedown, and he was successful the very first time. Pierce got up quickly though. The round ended uneventfully.
Both fighters were more than happy to exchange early in the third, with neither guy gaining much of an advantage. Pierce finally got a trip takedown, but Kos got up immediately. They spent an extended amount of time in the clinch, exchanging knees while referee Herb Dean asked them to work. Koscheck attempted another takedown halfway through the round, but Pierce fought him off until Dean separated them. Koscheck inadvertantly poked Pierce in the eye, but Dean didn't take a point. Kos finally found a bit of success with his hands late, and managed to get a double leg takedown with 30 seconds to go. Pierce popped up and landed a spinning elbow to close out the fight.
This was Koscheck's twentieth bout in the UFC, and he was coming off a knockout win over UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Pierce was 5-2 in the UFC entering this fight, with his last win coming over Paul Bradley at UFC on Fox.