Victory didn't come easily for Josh Koscheck against Mike Pierce at UFC 143.
Then again, when has the chase of a championship belt in any sport ever been anything other than trying of heart and spirit?
Kos needed every ounce of determination in his big, bulky body to survive a surprisingly close brawl with the man so aptly named "Battle Troll." The two welterweights spent the bulk of the fight either pressing up against each other and battling for position or trading blows on their feet. Each got in his fair share of jarring jabs, with Pierce punching a slow stream of blood out of Koscheck's nose.
In the end, the slim disparity in takedowns proved to be enough to tip the judges' scales in Kos' favor, with Kos being awarded the split-decision victory. Koscheck managed to get Pierce to the mat twice, while Pierce registered just one takedown of his own.
Pierce deserves tremendous credit for proving to be such a stiff test for the heavily-favored Koscheck, though, ultimately, it's Koscheck who clearly benefits most. As much of a moral victory as Pierce earned on Saturday night, he won't be the one who moves up the ranks of the welterweight division.
That climb, of course, belongs to Koscheck, who figures to be close to another shot at the welterweight title after Georges St-Pierre finally returns to the Octagon to take on new interim champ Carlos Condit. Koscheck has already lost twice to GSP, though he'll undoubtedly hope that the third time will be a beltworthy charm.
That is, assuming Condit doesn't get in the way of the trifecta.