After losing his title fight with Georges St-Pierre at UFC 124, many wondered what was left for Josh Koscheck in the welterweight division, but now, after his loss to Robbie Lawler, there is really only one option left.
While Koscheck didn’t look overly bad during UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., he was ultimately unable to keep Lawler from landing heavy shots from the top, prompting Herb Dean to stop the fight in the very first frame.
Koscheck has now lost three of his last five bouts, and with GSP still ruling the roost as the undisputed champion, Koscheck looks to be the official gatekeeper of the division.
He proved to be a good litmus test for Johny Hendricks, who will test himself next against Carlos Condit, and should he win there, will go on to fight for the title.
At 35 years of age, Koscheck still has some time left in one of the deeper divisions in the sport, possessing good wrestling and a brutal right hand.
But baring a huge upset loss between GSP and Nick Diaz, Koscheck doesn’t look to be in line for a title shot anytime in the future, sooner or later.
He could secure exciting fights with Nick Diaz, Martin Kampmann, Dan Hardy and perhaps even Carlos Condit, but unless he reinvents himself or moves either up to middleweight or down to lightweight, he won’t be able to make a convincing argument for title contention in a division that has seen him defeated on two different occasions by the champion.
In his loss to Lawler, he fought in nearly the exact same way that he does in all his fights; looking to throw his right hand while pushing for takedowns.
It’s a formula that has proven to be just as successful as it is predictable, and when Lawler turned the tables, he got caught in a bad position against a fighter who knows how to finish.
Perhaps it was simply a matter of hubris, but many—perhaps even Koscheck himself—discounted Lawler outright, and now, he enjoys a kind of rebirth in the UFC while Koscheck tumbles down the rankings.
For a man who started off in the sport as a wrestler only, he saw the kind of success that had many pointing his direction when examples of a “complete” mixed martial artist were called for.
As of late, he has seemed all too comfortable returning to earlier form, but with some leg kicks and a right hand thrown in.
That’s not nearly enough for the welterweight division, and as we learned Saturday night, he isn’t the only fighter at 170 with heavy hands.
Given the fact that friend and former stable-mate Jon Fitch just got handed his walking papers, fans of Koscheck find themselves hoping he can reinvest himself toward becoming the most dynamic fighter he can be.
Because as it stands now, even gatekeeper status isn’t enough to ensure a long-term position in the UFC.