By Ray Hamill — Orion and Louis Cosce have been inspiring each other for about as long as either brother can remember, and that continued to be the case on Saturday as Humboldt County claimed an historic UFC victory.
Older brother Orion won an unanimous decision in a welterweight showdown against Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha at UFC 277 in Dallas, becoming the first North Coast fighter to taste victory on the biggest MMA stage of all.
And younger brother Louis — who also is a UFC fighter — was right there playing his part and inspiring his elder sibling to victory.
It appeared to work, with Orion growing stronger as the fight went on and clinching a narrow victory — all three judges scored the fight 29-28 — with a big third round.
The former Hoopa High wrestler, who is affiliated with the Lost Boys gym in Arcata, dominated the final round thanks to his superior wrestling, and once he got Mathetha to the ground, there was no way back for his opponent.
“We knew what that guy had to do to win, and we knew what we had to do to win,” Cosce’s trainer Brian Wilson said. “It was no secret. It was really just about implementing our game plan.”
Orion appeared very at ease and comfortable before the fight and had a smile on his face when entering the arena.
And that composure showed in the third round with the fight going down to the wire.
“I wish I could have got to finish the fight, but I’m happy I got my first UFC victory,” Orion said. “It doesn’t really matter how I won, I’m just grateful I got the win.”
He also paid tribute to his entire corner for all they did to help him get back into the fight after a second round that appeared to go Mathetha’s way.
The victory is a landmark one for local MMA.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Wilson said. “Seeing him from where he started to where he is now and seeing him develop as a fighter and overcoming the adversity he had to overcome.”
With the win, Cosce improved to 8-1 as a pro fighter and 1-1 in UFC fights, and he is hoping for quick return to the cage, possibly joining Louis on a UFC card on September 17.
“I’m waiting on them to let me know what’s next,” he said. “I’ll take the next few days to recover and hopefully I can hop on that UFC card with Louis.”