The main card is well underway in Las Vegas as UFC 143 continues toward the big main event of Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit for the interim Welterweight Championship. The main event was originally scheduled to pit Stockton's own Diaz against the seemingly unbeatable Georges St. Pierre, but St. Pierre revealed in December that he had an ACL injury that would keep him out of action for 10 months. The winner of Diaz-Condit on Saturday night will later meet St. Pierre to duke it out for the undisputed title.
In other California welterweight fighting news, the polarizing Josh Koscheck, fighting out of Fresno, faced off against Mike Pierce. Koscheck stated that he wanted to use Pierce as a stepping stone to get back into title contention, while Pierce was hoping to gain some consideration of his own in the weight class with a win.
Koscheck came into the fight looking in possibly the best shape I've ever seen him. He looked extremely lean, particularly in comparison to the beefy Pierce. The first round involved a mix of Pierce clinching Koscheck against the cage and some standup. Koscheck appeared to take slightly more punishment from trading blows and was able to prevent any sort of takedown against the cage, but Pierce controlled the pace of the first round a bit more than did Kos.
In the opening minute of the second round, Pierce again pressed the issue, but as they stood and traded blows, an inadvertent headbutt by Koscheck opened up a cut on Pierce's hairline, which immediately started to bleed. About halfway through the round, Koscheck received a warning for having open hands, with referee Herb Dean telling him to watch his fingers. Seconds later, Koscheck grabbed the first successful takedown of the fight with a double-leg. After the second round, Dean again spoke to Koscheck about the fingers. Pierce looked winded in his corner after the round and appeared to be bleeding quite a bit from the hairline cut.
Pierce grabbed a single-leg in the opening minute of the final round and got his own takedown, but Kos was quickly back to his feet. After some more clinching against the cage, both fighters began trading blows in earnest, with Koscheck landing solid shots and a good combo, but Pierce landed just as many shots to the head of his own, throwing in a Muay Thai clinch and knee to the body for good measure. Koscheck, sure enough, poked Pierce in the eye inadvertently due to his fingers being out and Dean once again took him to task, giving him a final warning. Kos once again shot in hard with a double-leg and got another takedown in the final 0:30. Pierce landed a spinning elbow just before time expired and the fight went to the judges. Pierce appeared to have taken more visible damage throughout the fight but it was extremely close in all respects, with both fighters very evenly matched.
The judges scored the fight 29-28 Pierce, 29-28 Koscheck and 29-28 Koscheck, giving him the win by split decision. One of the closer fights in recent memory and probably not impressive enough of a win to get him back in the welterweight title picture immediately.
Other results from the main card, in less-than-thrilling fights:
For complete coverage and results of UFC 143: Diaz Vs. Condit, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For all news and information regarding UFC 143 and mixed martial arts, please visit Bloody Elbow and SB Nation's dedicated MMA hub.