It was a weekend like no other for local MMA.
On Saturday afternoon, Orion Cosce became the first Humboldt County fighter to win at a UFC event, defeating Mike “Blood Diamond” Mathetha in a welterweight showdown at UFC 277 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The fight went the distance and a strong showing by Cosce in the third and final round made the difference, with all three judges giving him an unanimous win on identical 29-28 scores.
The win was also the second for a local pro MMA fighter this weekend, with former Eureka High wrestler Tyson Miller defeating Emmanueli Adzch on a first-round TKO in a Legacy Fighting Alliance in Commerce, CA, on Friday night.
Cosce’s win is a particularly noteworthy one for MMA in Humboldt County, as the sport continues to grow in popularity locally.
He is not the first fighter born in Humboldt County to win at a UFC event, but he is the first to do so after taking up the sport in the area and he becomes the first locally affiliated fighter to do so.
And the win came almost exactly one year to the day since Cosce lost his UFC debut, which was the last time he fought.
On Saturday, there was little to separate the two fighters through the opening two rounds, although Mathetha appeared to get the better of exchanges with some big knocks in the second round.
Cosce, however, controlled round three with his superior wrestling skills and the late surge clearly swayed the judges.
With the win, the 28-year-old Cosce improved to 1-1 in the UFC and 8-1 as a pro, while Mathetha, who is a kick boxing specialist, dropped to 0-2 in the UFC and 3-2 as a pro.
Humboldt born Nate Quarry won multiple UFC fights between 2005 and 2010, but he never competed in sports locally and did not take up MMA until several years after he left the area for Oregon.
Cosce, who is a former Hoopa High wrestler, got his start in MMA at the Lost Boys gym in Arcata and is still affiliated with the Lost Boys and regularly trains with them.
His brother Louis, who is also a pro UFC fighter, was in his corner in Dallas, along with local trainer Brian Wilson of the Lost Boys gym.
Miller, meanwhile, improved to 4-0 as a pro with his victory on Friday night.
Miller, who fights out of the Institute of Combat in Arcata, ended his fight in the opening round, the third time he has done so in four pro fights.
We’ll have more on both fighters in the coming days.