Johny Hendricks managed to get the better of Josh Koscheck over three rounds tonight at UFC On FOX 3, but it was close with the judges rendering a split decision verdict.

Unfortunately Hendricks suffered an early eye poke in the first round, but the referee didn’t see it so he had to fight through it.

Koscheck wasn’t in the mood to go easy on him though and he got him up against the fence and blasted away with some heavy strikes. Hendricks is able to hit him with an uppercut though that eases the pressure on him.

Hendricks moves forward and lands another uppercut and attempts a takedown, but he’s only half successful as Koscheck does a good job of keeping his balance and somewhat stuffing the attempt. Hendricks settles for pressing him up against the cage and landing some knee strikes to his opponent’s thighs until the referee finally breaks them.

Later in the round Hendricks lands a solid combo on Koscheck and it appears to have hurt his nose as he seems to be touching it gingerly to check for damage and is occasionally wincing. In the final seconds he retaliates with a spinning backfist, but Hendricks is unphased.

The second round was fairly close, but Hendricks was landing the heavier blows and Koscheck was continuing to wince at times and was now sporting swelling around his right eye.

Still, there was all to play for in the final round and there was some more urgency from both men in the early stand-up exchanges in the final five minutes.

Again Hendricks was slightly edging it, matching Koscheck’s searching jabs with heavy blows in return. They start to trade toe-to-toe and both manage to connect at times, but the real telling blow is a big knee from Hendricks which hurts Koscheck and forces him to shoot for a takedown up against the cage.

He successfully takes Hendricks legs out from under him and plants him on the mat with a couple of minutes to go. From there he’s able to get half-guard and begins to work some ground and pound, landing some solid shots to the ribs of Hendricks in particular.

Its a good spell of control for Koscheck, and may just have swung the round in his favor, but he’s not able to really posture up and land the kind of blows neccessary to bring an end to the fight before the final bell and so this one will be decided by the judges.

It’s a close one, but it’s Hendricks who’s given the nod by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).

Hendricks is elated and leaps up and down after the verdict is announced, while Koscheck, who’s sporting significant swelling and bruising around his right eye and forehead looks dejected.

So Hendricks adds another big name victim to his resume, and following on from a KO win over Jon Fitch he’s now placed himself firmly in the title hunt at 170lbs.

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