Josh Koscheck welcomes Robbie Lawler back to the octagon in the night’s opening bout on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 157. Koscheck is 3-2 over his last five fights but has been out of action since suffering a loss to Johny Hendricks in May. Lawler returns to the UFC for the first time since 2004 and he is 2-3 over his last five. He comes in off a decision loss to Lorenz Larkin in July.
Fight Breakdown- Both men are heavy, heavy hitters with the ability to end the fight at any moment. That could lead to a lot of fireworks as punches will be thrown with tons of power. However, both men have strong chins and are very durable, so a knockout of either would be a small surprise, though anything is certainly possible in a fight. Koscheck holds the advantage in the fight and is a huge favorite in this fight due to his wrestling. Koscheck has super quick takedowns and he shoots for them faster than many in the sport. Lawler has shown difficulty in fighting when he is planted on his back.
Koscheck, though, can at times go with a different gameplan than an obvious one to win, and if he does not stick with trying to take Lawler down, Lawler can make the fight tough for him. Lawler mixes his strikes well with punches, knees and kicks, and he will take air looking for flying knees. Koscheck tends to look for the overhand right, and when he misses, he leaves himself open for counters, and that is where Lawler could look to attack. Koscheck should look to keep Lawler off guard by circling and using kicks and jabs, something that Koscheck is good at.
Conditioning will be key as Lawler makes the cut back down to 170 pounds after spending the last eight-plus years as a middleweight. The weight cut could take some out of Lawler, and Koscheck has excellent conditioning and will be able to go 100-percent for all 15 minutes. Lawler does have a history of fading late in fights and Koscheck should be able to take over the fight in the latter stages if he can avoid Lawler’s power. Koscheck is as dangerous as it comes in all facets of a fight and he will drag Lawler into deep waters.
Why It Matters- Koscheck wants to get back into the title picture and move up in the rankings, where he is currently ranked eighth. He came up short in challenging Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship, and while he may not get another shot while St. Pierre is still champion, Koscheck remains one of the toughest fights at 170 pounds, and he can easily play the spoiler role for anyone looking to break into the title picture.
For Lawler, he is looking to make an impact in his return to the UFC from Strikeforce. He left the octagon on a sour note with back-to-back losses to Nick Diaz and the late Evan Tanner, but he is still as dangerous as they come, with 16 knockouts and a style that makes him deserve the nickname ‘Ruthless’. This is the chance for Lawler to prove on the big stage once again, at just the ripe old age of 30, that he has plenty left in his gas tank and the ability to make a charge once again into title contention.