Josh Koscheck (17-7, 15-7 UFC) vs. Tyron Woodley (11-2, 1-1 UFC), at UFC 167
A solid addition to the main card, this fight will determine who will be the welterweight divisions resident heavy handed wrestler going forward. Will it be a changing of the guard or will the veteran Koscheck reestablish himself near the top of the division?
Josh Koscheck is the last remaining member of the 1st season of “The Ultimate Fighter” to hang onto a spot in the division’s top 10 rankings (depending on the source). He’s had all but 2 of his career fights in the Octagon and overall has done quite well earning a TUF coaching gig, a 5 fight win streak, a title shot, and 5 “of the night” bonuses and only recently has Josh lost 2 in a row for the 1st time. Koscheck came into the UFC a decorated NCAA wrestler (D I Champ) and quickly built on that foundation by finishing 4 of his 1st 6 opponents, 2 with strikes and 2 with submissions. At his peak Koscheck is strong as hell, in great cardiovascular condition, a remarkably effective wrestler with a great double leg, and has a dangerously powerful right hand. He has become reasonably well rounded, winning 6 by (T) KO, 6 by submission, and 7 by decision and is tough to submit having only been submitted once after being kneed in the face in the last round of a fight he was dominating way back in 2005. This submission defense has been important being that Josh was and is a wrestler. After a relatively long and active UFC career it will be interesting to see how much Josh has left in the tank with regards to his desire and ability to win big fights. Josh has seen and beat just about every type of fighter out there and with most of his losses being to the division’s elite fighters he has nothing to be ashamed of. However, he has struggled, win or lose, in his last 3 fights and to predict how he will look in this fight is tough.
Like Koscheck, Woodley has been in the bigger shows in all of his pro fights but his first 2. Also like Koscheck, Tyron was an NCAA division 1 wrestling standout (2x All American) before entering MMA, though not as decorated as Josh. Tyron hooked up with American Top Team and entered his 1st pro MMA fight in 2009 with a good degree of hype. He did not disappoint, going undefeated his 1st 10 fights and using his expanded skill set to rack up 4 wins with submissions and 2 with his punches facing progressively better competition along the way. Tyron failed in his attempt to capture the vacant Strikeforce WW title but the silver linings were twofold, he and Nate Marquardt put on a classic title fight, and he was headed to the UFC his very next fight. He has had 2 fights since then and has looked equal parts impressive and underwhelming with a big KO win and a boring decision loss. Tyron has all the skills he needs now to make a run at the top 10 but he’s in the big show now and he has to bring his best every time out, mentally and physically.
Two similar fighters at different points in their careers make for a difficult prediction. At 35 I don’t think Josh Koscheck is far enough removed from his physical prime to wash out of the UFC and after losing 2 in a row for the 1st time ever I would be surprised to see him lose a 3rd consecutive fight. I do think Woodley is the physically stronger fighter nowadays but he has been hittable and since power is usually the last thing to leave an aging fighter, Josh Koscheck will be getting the win here, KO’ing Woodley in the 2nd round.