Weight class: Welterweight
Result: Orion Cosce def. Matt Dixon via TKO (strikes) – round 3, 4:42
Summary: Although you can easily accuse me of being too liberal when it comes to awarding A’s in this column, seldom will you ever see me hand out an A+.
First-round finishes may be the gold standard that Dana White has imprinted into the program (as it’s obviously his show to do so), but – as a fight analyst who tries to be objective – the short nights at the office ultimately tell me very little about how things will work out in the big picture. For that reason, experiences like accrued fight time or having to overcome adversity speaks much louder to me.
In this fight, Orion Cosce, who came in as the biggest underdog on the card opposite Matt Dixon, demonstrated all of those things.
Even though Dixon has experience in both boxing and muay Thai, the 24-year-old prospect from Oklahoma came out strong, leaning on the deceptively capable offensive wrestling chops that served him well on the regional scene. Dixon was able to score two takedowns and land some hard shots in transition to win the first round, but – akin to Kenneth Cross’ effort earlier in the evening – Dixon began to tire come the second round.
By the middle of the contest, Cosce (who had some wrestling experience himself) was able to make the adjustments that Urijah Faber was calling for in the corner, weathering the wrestling storm and pulling away in the strikes landed department down the stretch. And despite Cosce prematurely motioning for a fist bump to end the round (something I felt the UFC president unfairly reamed him for post-fight), the elder Cosce brother came out with more energy and urgency than his counterpart, reversing Dixon’s takedown efforts in order to score his own.
Once on the floor, Cosce relentlessly went to work with both submissions and strikes until earning a stoppage, showing no comfort or attempt to seek shelter by going to the scorecards. Cosce seemed to take White’s gassing and quitting accusations to heart, and who could blame him given that the fighter’s story, as well as his entire pre-fight promo package, was based around the fact that neither he nor his brother has yet to quit through adversity.
Nevertheless, I hope that those comments don’t unfairly interfere with Cosce’s psyche heading into his next fight, as I believe that his action-friendly style is aggressive enough to please the masses. Although they’re coming off losses, I wouldn’t hate it if the UFC matchmakers paired Cosce up with either Rhys McKee or Anthony Ivy, who both deserve full-camp opportunities.