Lawler makes his UFC return by dropping back to the welterweight division. Koscheck returns to the Octagon after an extended period away from the cage following a loss to Johny Hendricks in May 2012. The two veterans are attempting to make one last run at the title.
This is one of the most interesting fights on the card, and one that has a chance to collect a post-fight bonus check.
Here is how the welterweight action breaks down heading into UFC 157.
Robbie Lawler is one fighter who loves a good ol' fashioned brawl. What separates him from the mediocre is that he does employ technique in his stand-up battles.
Koscheck, on the other hand, abandons technique a lot of the time and only seeks to utilize his overhand right. That is the difference and why Lawler has the advantage on the feet.
Each fighter has good power and could conceivably end the fight with one blow.
Lawler attacks the body and the head. He lets the knockout come naturally. If this fight is contested on the feet, then that gives him a big edge. He varies his attack enough and takes what is open to him. This will force Koscheck to defend strikes on two levels and allow Lawler to score points.
If, or perhaps when, Koscheck realizes it is not smart to stand with Lawler, he will look to take the fight to the mat.
There is no debate in this category. Koscheck is the better grappler.
His athleticism has been on display numerous times throughout his career. His shot is explosive and he drives all the way through his opponent. That will make it hard for Lawler to defend.
It is possible that Lawler can defend the takedown, but over the course of 15 minutes, the takedowns should come easier for Koscheck. He will eventually get Lawler on his back.
Each of these fighters has knowledge of submissions, but neither actively seek them out. They prefer to end the fight with their fists.
The edge in this category is largely determined by who should be in better position to utilize their submission game in the fight, and that is Koscheck.
If he gets the takedown, the fight will be in his realm. There are not many better at maintaining position on the ground than him, and that gives him the clear advantage here. Position before submission.
Lawler is not known for submitting people off his back. Do not look for Koscheck to be threatened while on top, and as Lawler tries to get back to his feet, that will also give Koscheck the chance to take his back.
Lawler's X-Factor: Defend the Takedown
Lawler enters the fight with the edge on the feet, and he should know that if he finds success on the feet that Koscheck will go to his roots. He'll need to be prepared for that.
If he can keep the fight on the feet, he has a very good chance to win this fight by stoppage or a judges' decision.
Koscheck's X-Factor: Be Smart
We have seen Koscheck want to prove a point and stand and trade before. That is not very smart against the likes of Lawler.
He should play it safe and take Lawler down.
Koscheck should be able to dictate where this fight takes place, and he should make sure that it happens on the canvas as much as possible.
Koscheck merely has to minimize his mistakes, and standing for an extended period of time is one of the biggest he can make against Lawler.
Koscheck has been fighting better competition than Lawler in recent fights and is still one of the better 170-pound fighters in the world. An added level of interest is how Lawler will handle the weight cut back to welterweight.
If Koscheck uses his wrestling, then he should have no problem taking a decision.
Lawler will be reduced to having the proverbial "puncher's chance" in this fight.
What could be seen as a potential Fight of the Night will quickly be turned in to a wrestling clinic by Koscheck. It will turn some fans off, but most will realize that it is the smartest path for Koscheck to take against Lawler and respect the decision.
Prediction: Koscheck defeats Lawler by unanimous decision.