Johny Hendricks, the 12-1 fighter, is preparing for an important battle with a UFC stalwart. Bigg Rigg is riding a lot of momentum after scoring an electric one-punch K.O. of highly-ranked Jon Fitch. His rapidly rising fanbase is eager to see the tobacco dipping star battle again. His next bout will be an important measuring tool to see how capable he is.
Standing in his way is the division bad boy Josh Koscheck. Kos, who is a friend and training partner of Fitch, is looking to regain his place as a top contender and vie for another title shot. In addition to being a vital encounter for the rankings of the welterweight division, this will be a faceoff between two of the most accomplished wrestlers in the sport.
Johny won 165-pound NCAA titles for Oklahoma State University in 2005, 2006 and went 56-0 in 2007 before losing in the national finals. Koscheck won a title in 2001 for Edinboro University at 174 pounds with an impressive record of 42-0.
While this appears to be an exciting matchup of two fighters with proven athleticism and esteemed wrestling pedigree, there is a caveat. The 17-5 Koscheck employs an illegal and dangerous tactic for which he has never been punished. His penchant for intentionally pawing his fingers at the eyes of his opponents and throwing punches with extended fingers has tarnished many of his wins. Sadly, the audience of cheated of seeing who the deserving winner really is.
Kos recently won a split decision victory over Mike Pierce. As per usual, he was raking his fingers around Mike's eyes for most of the fight. On two distinct occasions, he did it severely enough that the referee stopped the fight to allow Pierce to recover. The problem is that it can often take days to fully recover from eye trauma.
Koscheck won the fight via decision: 29-28 on two of the three cards. A single-point reduction would have changed the result to a draw. Had two points been taken, Pierce would have won.
In his dramatic confrontation with Anthony Johnson, Koscheck also utilized several eye rakes to measure distance and disrupt the timing of Johnson. Johnson mentioned post-fight that he suffered two significant eye pokes (Round 2 at 4:16 and Round 2 at 3:50) that inhibited his ability to compete. These were definite momentum-shifting acts that helped Koscheck win.
Fans want to see an honest result. A soccer team that wins because of diving or a hockey team that wins because they have illegally injured a star player taints the legitimacy of the game. Referees and athletic commissions are required to take action to preserve the integrity of the sport. So far, they have been reticent to do so.
Dana White has not suspended nor publicly warned Josh, no referee has ever taken a point away, and Keith Kizer has defended his referee's decisions to not take away any points. Despite their silence, video evidence does not lie. The sport is being defrauded.
Watch for yourself on May 5th to see how many times Koscheck throws an open-fingered left jab at Bigg Rigg's face. Keep in mind, just one of those rakes could severely limit anyone's ability to see and fight effectively.
Kos is always a potential title contender and has proven himself to be a talented fighter. Hendricks amazed people with a great win over Fitch and has the world watching to see what he will do next. But a larger question should be, will Bigg Rigg be afforded an opportunity to compete fairly or will the referees continue to turn a blind eye to an obvious infraction?