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UFC 106 Preview: Anthony Johnson vs. Josh Koscheck

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Anthony Johnson is an exciting prospect at welterweight. In a fairly talent-rich division, he's captured the attention of many observers because of his rare blend of size, athleticism and striking ability. This 25-year-old Georgia native has decided to take this opportunity for a big fight at UFC 106 to show that he is ready to compete with the elite in the welterweight division. There has been some discussion on various MMA message boards questioning whether or not Zuffa should continue to bring him along at a more moderate pace. The consensus seems to be that the decision to put him in this fight is justified and the he is ready for his first crack at an A-list welterweight fighter. A.J.'s biggest hurdle could prove to be the scales. However, his camp contends that they'll have him in peak condition and that making the welterweight limit should be no problem. Johnson has a professional record of 8-2 with six wins coming by way of knockout and no wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 70.1%.

Josh Koscheck gained fame from his participation as a contestant on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He stood out even amongst a very solid group of talent from that season. This 31-year-old fighter is an explosive wrestler, as evidenced by his NCAA collegiate record of 145-23 at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where he was a three time All-American. Josh has taken those grappling skills and has successfully implemented them into his MMA game to become a contender in one of the sport's toughest divisions. Under the tutelage of the coaches at AKA, Josh has also developed into a fairly good striker. As long as Koscheck doesn't overly rely on his striking skills I think that he has a chance to score a big win on Saturday night, moving a step closer to a rematch with world champion Georges St. Pierre. Koscheck has a professional record of 13-4 with four wins coming by way of knockout and four wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 71.4%.

This is a quick turnaround for both fighters. Johnson is coming off a first round knockout of Yushiyuki Yoshida in October while Koscheck is coming off of a knockout victory of Frank Trigg in September. It's been mentioned many times before that Anthony Johnson is a gigantic welterweight and that he has had problems making weight. I think that this could potentially be a significant factor in the fight. He says that his team has the situation under control and that he'll have no problems making weight for this event. I tend to believe him, but he'll need every advantage he can get in this fight and fatigue could come into play if he's struggled with the weight cut. Also, I think you'll see a very cautious, respectful approach from Koscheck in this one. He undoubtedly knows Johnson's striking prowess and I'm thinking that he'll do everything in his power to formulate a gameplan to effectively deal with it. I think that it's very possible that Anthony Johnson could become a great MMA fighter. I'm just not sure that he's quite ready for this particular matchup yet. Johnson has the power to put any welterweight to sleep, but I foresee Koscheck landing takedowns and using them to set up some effective ground and pound. My prediction: Josh Koscheck by stoppage in the 2nd. How do you see this one going?