Josh Koscheck returns to the Octagon for the first time since May to welcome Robbie Lawler back to the organization and division.
Koscheck dropped a split decision to Johny Hendricks back at UFC on FOX: Diaz vs. Miller. The win would have elevated him back into title contention. Now he will try to get things going once again in 2013.
Lawler will be back inside the Octagon for the first time since UFC 50 back in 2004. He has dropped three of his last four bouts, but will hope a return to 170 pounds will give him a fresh start as the calendar turns.
This is how the battle between the two hard-throwing welterweights stacks up.
Both of these men love to look for the knockout. They have complete faith in their power and it shows in their combined 21 knockout victories.
Koscheck throws his overhand right without a care. He swings the punch hoping it connects—rarely does he set it up with combinations, and that is why it doesn't often find its mark.
Lawler, on the other hand, is more technical on his feet. He will throw combinations and vary the target. He loves to work the body when close and then go for the head. He is not as careless as Koscheck. That is the major reason he gets the nod in this category.
If the welterweights remain on their feet for 15 minutes, the edge has to go to Lawler. Technically speaking, he is much more sound offensively and defensively than Koscheck.
When Koscheck feels like he is in danger, he can always fall back to his wrestling. He has one of the best shots in the division.
Lawler is a decent wrestler in his own right, but he's not at the level of Koscheck.
Koscheck is a four-time NCAA All-American. We have seen him utilize that pedigree to great success inside the cage throughout his career. If he begins to feel outmatched on the feet, expect him to start looking to take the fight to the ground.
He is the better wrestler in the cage without question or debate.
This fight will most likely be contested on the feet. However, the fight will hit the ground if Koscheck feels threatened on the feet, and that is a real possibility.
Once on the mat, it becomes a toss-up.
Lawler will have to find the submission off his back, but he is capable of pulling it off. Lawler has the knowledge and abilities to submit Koscheck—it's just unlikely.
Koscheck will be hard to stop from top position. His control is outstanding. Against an inferior grappler, he should have no problem keeping Lawler's back on the mat and out of trouble. He can also soften Lawler up with ground-and-pound.
There is not a high chance this fight will end by submission. However, should it go that route, Koscheck is more likely to make Lawler tap than the other way around.
Lawler's X-Factor: Keep the Fight Standing
Lawler must keep the fight on the feet. That is what it boils down to.
If he allows Koscheck to use his wrestling to put him on the mat, his chances to claim a win drop drastically. He must keep the fight standing to give himself a shot at winning his return bout.
Koscheck's willingness to exchange is a big opportunity for Lawler to find that home run. One shot is all it takes. It can change everything.
Koscheck's X-Factor: Athleticism
Koscheck may be 35 years old, but he is still a very good athlete. He will have the speed and athleticism advantage over Lawler.
On the feet, he has to move. Koscheck must get in and out before Lawler has a chance to counter. Should Koscheck want to take him down, his explosive shot will be a key factor.
He cannot allow Lawler to walk him down and close the distance. Koscheck should want the space to use his athleticism.
Koscheck will try to stand in the first round but quickly realize the power that Lawler possesses. After tasting a shot from Lawler, he will fall back on his wrestling and begin to take him down for the remainder of the fight.
There is no reason for Koscheck to risk standing when he is head and shoulders above Lawler in the grappling department. He will want the most sure path to victory to start his 2013 off right.
Lawler will try to stop Koscheck and force him to stand, but he will not be able to avoid the inevitable.
What could look like an exciting stand-up battle on paper will quickly become a one-sided grappling match. Koscheck will get his hand raised in a clean sweep of the scorecards.
Prediction: Koscheck defeats Lawler by unanimous decision