UFC welterweight contender Josh Koscheck took home an impressive submission victory over fast-rising prospect Anthony Johnson Saturday at UFC 106 in Las Vegas, but it was a painful victory for the American Kickboxing Academy product.
During the co-main event bout, Johnson threw a knee towards Koscheck’s face while he was on his knees. Koscheck was able to deflect it, though Johnson had already accidentally thumbed him in his left eye as he grasped at his grounded opponent.
The crowd booed as Koscheck pawed at his left eye and replays in the arena showed his left arm absorbing the brunt of the blow. However, the replays didn’t show the eye poke prior to the thrown knee.
Referee Mario Yamasaki immediately stepped in because of the knee -- an illegal maneuver as Koscheck was considered downed at the time -- and brought the ringside physician in to inspect the fighter’s eye.
Koscheck said he had no intention of quitting, despite telling Yamasaki he could not see.
“I was like, ‘Hey, just give me the time, it will be fine.’ I knew I could continue, I just needed the time,” said the 2001 NCAA Div. I wrestling champion. “When you get eye-poked, it just gets blurry and I wanted to make sure I was prepared to go back in and fight.”
Even though the blow was blocked, a point was deducted from Johnson and the fight resumed.
The second round saw a pair of pokes to Johnson’s eyes, the latter being more severe than the first. Johnson tried to fight back, but Koscheck was too much. Koscheck capped off a dominating performance with a rear naked-choke that forced Johnson to tap out with just 13 seconds left in the second frame.
In his post-fight comments, Koscheck questioned the decision to give British striker Dan Hardy first crack at champion Georges St. Pierre’s title in early 2010. Hardy, sitting ringside, mocked Koscheck with fake tears as he pleaded his case in the Octagon. Later, Koscheck had resigned to the fact that the St. Pierre-Hardy bout had already been locked up.
“I’m not the guy who’s going to be fighting for the title next, Hardy’s going to be fighting -- they already made the decision -- so for me, I’m just going to sit back and watch the fight and enjoy it and keep training and keep letting my performances tell me if I’m the No. 1 contender or not,” Koscheck told Sherdog.com. “You know, I’m just going to let my fights speak for me and maybe just shut my mouth up for once.”