In a battle between former NCAA Division I wrestling champions, Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck showed off their stand up prowess in a fifteen minute war of attrition.
In the end, it was Hendricks who was given the edge on the scorecards with a narrow split decision victory.
Koscheck started the bout implementing his kick game to fend off the power punching of Hendricks. It worked to start, but Hendricks quickly found a home for his powerful left hand as he repeatedly tagged Koscheck during the exchanges. Koscheck countered nicely with his right hand, but it appeared that he was behind early after the first round was in the books.
Hendricks continued to throw his looping left hand to start the second, doubling and even tripling up with his punching attack from the left side. Koscheck’s right eye continued to swell as he battled in the pocket and fought off the takedown attempts of Hendricks. Koscheck managed to put Hendricks on the cage, landing short elbows and knees inside as the round wound down. Another takedown attempt by Hendricks closed out a second round that could have went either way.
Koscheck turned it on in the third, shooting for an early takedown, but the action was stopped and restarted after a stall against the cage. Koscheck reset and landed with a nice power combination of punches as Hendricks continued to try to find the mark with his left hand. Koscheck secured a takedown later in the round and went to work on passing the guard of Hendricks, staying busy with short, grinding strikes from the top. He managed to posture up and land a flurry of left hands from the top to close out the final round.
Both fighters celebrated their performance after the bell sounded on a very close fight, but it was Hendricks that was celebrating after being announced as the winner by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
The victory gives Hendricks (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) his fourth straight win in the octagon and moves him one step closer to a title shot.