Josh Koscheck (17-5) vs. Johny Hendricks (12-1)
An intriguing welterweight booking features two fighters with similar skillsets as the former title challenger Koscheck looks to return to the championship mix against the fast-rising phenomenon Hendricks.
Koscheck, 34, a UFC staple since emerging as a finalist on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2005, recently underwent drastic changes in his camp.
Following a closely contested split-decision win over Mike Pierce this past February, Koscheck parted ways with his longtime team at the American Kickboxing Academy, establishing his new training grounds at Dethrone Base Camp in Fresno, Calif.
A former NCAA Division I standout, Koscheck has earned victories over the likes of Matt Hughes, Paul Daley, Anthony Johnson, Chris Lytle and Diego Sanchez, while dropping two fights to welterweight juggernaut Georges St. Pierre, a decision against Thiago Alves in 2008 and a flash knockout at the hands of Paulo Thiago in 2009.
After initially making a splash in the UFC, Koscheck was thought to be a one-dimensional machine, relying entirely on his solid wrestling base to dictate fights. However, Koscheck has earned his share of knockout victories over the years as he has developed thunderous power in his big right hand.
Despite getting up there in age, the Pennsylvania native is likely in the best shape of his career and his fighting IQ is at an all-time high. After spending years with the same coaches and teammates, Koscheck's recent changes could positively influence his performance.
Even though he's no longer affiliated with the team, Koscheck looks to right a wrong for the American Kickboxing Academy as he hopes to avenge his good friend Jon Fitch's 12-second knockout loss to Hendricks this past December.
Hendricks, 28, an NCAA Division I champion, Big 12 champion and four-time All-American, shocked the world by dismantling the perennial contender Fitch in emphatic fashion.
With his lone blemish coming against Rick Story in an arduous back-and-forth battle in December 2010, Hendricks' campaign has seen him notch quality wins over contenders Amir Sadollah, T.J. Grant, Charlie Brenneman and Pierce.
In a matchup of two men armed with extensive foundations in wrestling and heavy firepower, the younger Hendricks could have the edge.
Riding the momentum of one of the most shocking victories of 2011, Hendricks will need to fall back on his wrestling, while tagging Koscheck with the most significant strikes over the course of 15 minutes to prevail via decision on judges' scorecards.
Verdict: Hendricks via decision