UFC 157: February 23, 2012 Honda Center in Anaheim, California UFC Welterweight Contender Josh Koscheck (-325) Profile: A semifinalist on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter as a middleweight before making a successful transition to welterweight in the UFC, Josh Koscheck (17-6) has amassed a 15-6 record in his nine years in the organization with his dominant wrestling style and evolved stand-up. In years past, it was his elite and smothering wrestling that would leave opponents in his wake. In the last few years though, the 35-year-old Koscheck has developed decent stand-up and displayed genuine knockout power. Granted, this has left Koscheck headhunting. In the last three years, Koscheck has only lost to arguably the top two welterweights on the planet, champion Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title after a stint coaching on The Ultimate Fighter followed by a controversial split decision against top contender Johny Hendricks. UFC Welterweight Contender Robbie Lawler (+250) Profile: Robbie Lawler (19-9, 1 NC) got his start fighting for Pat Miletich in the infamous Miletich Fighting Systems team out of Iowa at the turn of the century. Lawler was billed as the wunderkind of the group, a 19-year-old prospect with fists of dynamite and the attitude of Matt Hughes. In the early days of the UFC, he went 4-3 between 2002 and 2004 with key wins over Chris Lytle and Tiki Goshen but equally notable losses to Evan Tanner and Nick Diaz. He then left to blaze his own trail outside the promotion for nearly a decade, winning the Elite XC middleweight title and moving on to Strikeforce to become a perennial contender for the 185-pound crown. The 30-year-old veteran is now back in the UFC following the end of Strikeforce and out to prove his 3-5 record in his last eight bouts is not indicative of this stage of his career. Lawler’s endless gas tank, explosive punching power and savvy craftiness should serve him well in another UFC run back at welterweight. Opening UFC 157 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Koscheck a solid -325 favorite (bet $325 to win $100) while Lawler opened as a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250) at 5Dimes sportsbook. This is an intriguing matchup between two big welterweights who are each fully capable of landing one big punch to instantly end the bout. Koscheck is fighting his way back toward the top of the MMAOB MMA Fighter Rankings, currently sitting as the No. 8 welterweight, despite coming off a tough loss to Hendricks. He ended the Hall of Fame career of Hughes with a stunning first-round knockout following his loss to GSP and remains a top contender for the belt. Meanwhile, Lawler gained a ton of MMA experience by the age of 30 with six more bouts than Koscheck even though he is five years younger. Coincidentally, Lawler saw his first run in the UFC end the year before Koscheck started his career in the organization with TUF. While Koscheck has definitely fought more elite welterweights recently, Lawler is a very dangerous striker who is back at the weight class where he started and has the experience to make this a tough battle for him.
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