At UFC on Fox 3, Welterweight wrestlers meet as Josh Koscheck (17-5; 15-5 UFC) faces Johny Hendricks (12-1; 7-1 UFC). This is the semi-main event of the evening and the third of four bouts on the Fox card. According to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, Koscheck is currently the #6 ranked Welterweight in the world, with Hendricks one spot above him at #5. The Fox card begins Saturday, May 5 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, with prelims starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Fuel TV.
This is an interesting fight for a number of reasons. First up, Dana White announced this week that Johny Hendricks will move into the #1 contender status with a win here (though he'll likely have to wait for the Carlos Condit vs. GSP fight). You also have a great story at play with two very similar fighters at very different points in their careers. Hendricks is on a red-hot streak right now, coming off a spectacular KO win over Jon Fitch. Koscheck meanwhile is coming off a narrow win that made many question if he is winding up his MMA career. Add in a bit of a personal story as Hendricks's big win came at the expense of Koscheck's former teammate Fitch, and you have a great fight.
How do these two stack up?
Hendricks: 28 years old | 5'9" | 69" reach
Koscheck: 34 years old | 5'10" | 73" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Johny Hendricks made a huge UFC debut back in 2009 when he knocked out Amir Sadollah in just 29 seconds. After that, he sort of faded away from the PPV stage, with most of his subsequent fights taking place on the prelims. In those fights, he quietly put together an impressive 5-1 record before being invited back to the main card for a big UFC 141 showdown with consistent top contender Jon Fitch. In just 12 seconds, Hendricks KO'd Fitch, immediately proving himself as a true contender at Welterweight. With a strong wrestling base and dynamite in his hands, Hendricks is a serious force.
Like Hendricks, Josh Koscheck is a highly credentialed wrestler. And like Hendricks, he's used some powerful KO's to rise up the ranks. But where Hendricks is surging, Koscheck is fading. In 2010, Kos challenged Georges St. Pierre for the Welterweight title. He was beaten badly in that fight, suffering a broken orbital bone that kept him out of action for 9 months. He came back with a win over the nearly retired Matt Hughes, but it was his UFC 143 performance against Mike Pierce that turned heads, and not in a good way. Koscheck had tremendous problems with Pierce, and through he took the split decision win, it was a fight that many felt showed his days at the top were done. He has a lot to prove, and if he wants to remain relevant, he needs this win badly.
Why should you care?
Even if you don't like the Koscheck persona (and, I admit, I don't), this is a moment that transcends that image. He's suddenly in the role of veteran trying to hold back the new guard that is so desperately trying to take his spot. Can he do it, or will Hendricks violently knock him aside? I want to know.
More UFC on Fox 3 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.