UFC Fight Night Breakdown

Koscheck vs. Yoshida

Dec 10, 2008
For anyone who doubts the power of MMA to unify the masses, simply look at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night “Fight for the Troops” benefit show airing on SpikeTV. What other sport could bring together latte-sipping literati and Budweiser-pounding brewmeisters all in the name of supporting our fallen and wounded soldiers?

So while the focus is rightly on the fine folks who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure I can sit behind a keyboard and make blithe comments about big dudes in short shorts, there is some quality MMA to mouth off about and I can’t pass up that opportunity.

In other words, put down the latte and/or Budweiser and read up on the exploits of MMA’s favorite heel while engaging in a serious debate on just how “Quick” Mike Swick really is. All that and more brought to you by a paranoia-inducing diet of Red Bulls and raw sugar. Try it sometime.

Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Josh “Kos” Koscheck Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’10/170 lbs.
Age: 31
Hometown: Waynesburg, Pa.
Fighting out of: Fresno, Calif.
Record: 11-3

The stakes: After going big and going home in a short-notice bout against Thiago Alves that left his body every shade of the blue and purple color spectrum, Koscheck’s welterweight title aspirations are in serious danger. Rebuilding his status as an elite contender is all Koscheck can do in the mean time, and taking out the upstart Yoshida would be a good start.

At this point, it’s the only start Koscheck can afford to make unless he’s planning on taking a vacation in the preliminary portion of upcoming UFC cards. Considering Koscheck has more heel heat than Mike Tyson at a couple’s therapy session, it won’t take much for that imposed vacation to happen.

The breakdown: While Koscheck’s love affair with striking clearly cost him his bout with Alves, it may save his golden-tressed dome against Yoshida, whose savvy submission game and penchant for creating scrambles make him a dangerous proposition for Koscheck’s still-suspect grappling game.

As long as Koscheck can impose his will on the feet and keep Yoshida at arm’s length, he is at a distinct advantage. What remains to be seen is if the short turnaround time from the Alves loss and Yoshida’s canny clinch throws blow up Koscheck’s hopes like that botched volcano from your third grade science fair.

Yoshiyuki “Zenko” Yoshida Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’11/170 lbs.
Age: 34
Hometown: Kashiwa, Japan
Fighting out of: Tokyo
Record: 10-2

The stakes: Already one of the welterweight division’s premier prospects thanks to a skull-crushing showing at the Cage Force welterweight tournament, Yoshida became an MMA folk hero after choking War “Jon Koppenhaver” Machine into unconsciousness. With his people’s champion status cemented, Yoshida now has a chance to launch his welterweight contender status at Koscheck’s expense. With no clear contender lined up behind Thiago Alves, Yoshida could easily walk away from this bout next in line for a title shot. That, or Yoshida gets to play Hideki Irabu to Koscheck’s major league average hitter.

The breakdown: If Yoshida is going to have any chance of stopping Koscheck, it starts with keeping the boisterous one from turning this into a midweek wrestling meet. That means closing the pocket in a hurry, as the bulk of Koscheck’s wrestling game is predicated on landing quicksilver single- and double-legs. From there, Yoshida can use his strong judo background while mixing in his nasty clinch game to stifle Koscheck.

This fight boils down to Yoshida’s ability to get in Koscheck’s grill and maul him from bell to bell. Luckily, Yoshida’s flesh-flaying elbows and old-school judo style make him more than up to the task. Whether or not he can get past Koscheck’s barrage of power punches and technical takedowns is another story.

* * *

The bottom line: As much as Koscheck’s prodigious physical talents have made him an MMA phenom, the struggle to grasp the multiple facets of MMA in a limited period of time have come to the fore with alarming regularity. Whether it be his inability to alter a failing game plan or a troubling propensity for getting himself in trouble on the mat, Koscheck just doesn’t have the polish in his game that other top-flight contenders enjoy.

That will haunt him yet again Wednesday. Koscheck’s loopy boxing style will lead to Yoshida going straight to the clinch and turning this into a close-quarters clash where the Japanese fighter’s elbows end up serving as scalpels. A surprisingly flat Koscheck, likely not aided by his brief respite between fights, goes down via TKO early in the second round.
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