By Ray Hamill — After waiting almost an entire year, Humboldt County’s Orion Cosce will return to the MMA cage next week when he makes his much-anticipated UFC debut.
Cosce will fight Philip Rowe in a welterweight showdown in Las Vegas on Saturday as part of the preliminary card for the big Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland fight night.
Cosce, who secured a UFC contract in August of last year, was originally scheduled to make his UFC debut in November, but was forced to pull out of the planned fight because of injury.
He is, however, fully fit again and looking forward to next week’s big fight.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “It’s going great. I feel great. I’m back to full strength and I’m going to be looking my best in this fight.”
And that’s saying something for the former Hoopa High wrestler, who has impressed since turning pro in 2018, winning all seven of his fights.
The more experienced Rowe is 31 years old and has a record of 7-3 in the pro ranks.
At 6-foot-3, he’s also four inches taller than Cosce, although the Humboldt County native doesn’t see that as a problem.
“I expect him to come out and try to use his reach, but that’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” Cosce said.
None of Cosce’s fights have gone the distance, and he expects that trend to continue against Rowe.
“I just want to finish the fight,” he said. “If it’s the first, second or third round, I don’t care, I just want to finish it.”
Cosce earned his UFC contract with a big third-round TKO win over Matt Dixon at the Dana White Contender Series last summer.
He has had to wait longer than expected to finally make his UFC debut, but is glad for the opportunity.
“I’m just excited to be fighting,” he said. “Whether it’s a UFC debut or a championship fight, I’m just excited to fight.”
His younger brother Louis also earned a UFC contract last August and would go on to debut in November, suffering his first loss in the pro ranks against Sasha Palatnikov.
Louis, who is 7-1, is expected back in the cage later this year.
Rowe, meanwhile, is 0-1 in the UFC and has not won a fight in almost two years since defeating Leon Shahbazyan in the Contender Series.
He has lost three straight fights since then, including his UFC debut against Gabe Green and a pair of grappling bouts.
Next Saturday’s fight will be available on ESPN Plus.