Now that UFC 144 is in the books, the most exciting welterweight matchup since Jake Ellenberger defeated Diego Sanchez at UFC on Fuel TV, will take place on May 5 at UFC on Fox 3 when former No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck takes on up-and-comer Johny Hendricks.
Koscheck is coming off his second win after losing to current welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre. While his performance against Mike Pierce was less than inspiring, he did do enough to score the "W" in the judges eyes.
He is also still riding the waves of his Knockout of the Night performance against former UFC champion and Hall of Famer Matt Hughes at UFC 135. Needless to say, Koscheck is on the road back to redemption, and on the short list of title contenders.
But Johny Hendricks is just the man to spoil those dreams, and he's being given the opportunity to prove his knockout of Jon Fitch was no fluke because he's the real deal.
Hendricks, like Koscheck, holds a split decision win over Mike Perice, but it is his Knockout of the Night over the aforementioned Fitch that is still fresh in everyone's minds.
Aside from dropping a decision loss to Rick Story back at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale, Hendricks has been on a tear since entering the UFC, scoring four (T)KOs, three inside the first round.
By no means will this be an easy fight for Hendricks. In some ways Koscheck is an even harder matchup than Fitch was, as Koscheck can not only wrestle and drive the fight into deep waters, but he brings one-punch knockout power as well.
Who will become the next No. 1 contender?
But Koscheck has been knocked out before, and it is possible he will be looking to play it safe against someone like Hendricks, so as not to repeat the events of UFC 95 where he was knocked out by Paulo Thiago.
So Koscheck will look to use his wrestling and experience to dictate the fight. Unfortunately, Hendricks is an evenly matched opponent in the takedown department and will look to stuff everyone of Koscheck's attempts to take it to the ground.
Hendricks hasn't had the best of luck when it comes to the judges. Yes, he only has one loss, but he's had a couple close calls with his split-decision win over Pierce and a majority decision over T.J. Grant at UFC 113.
But he's also finished four of his nine opponents inside the Octagon, and there is no doubt he will be looking to make Koscheck number five of 10, for an even .500 KO batting average.
Look for Koscheck to use his experience and cardio to carry him through this fight for a decision victory, but keep a closer eye of Hendricks pulling the upset and ending this fight in the blink of an eye as he makes his claim to face interim UFC welterweight champion Carlos Condit before GSP returns to action.
I'd also look for Condit to be avoiding this fight under the guise of "waiting it out for GSP." But that's just one reporter's opinion.
And that's the bottom line.