Koscheck (19-8) was driven backwards by an early right. And referee Herb Dean hovered over the fighters as Woodley battered Koscheck on the ground later in the first round. But the veteran hung on — briefly.
Woodley (12-2) ended it brutally, crumpling Koscheck with a right to the chin and then hitting him with another on the way down. It earned him $50,000 for KO of the night.
Russian flyweight Ali (Puncher) Bagautinov won his 10th straight via a 29-28, 29-8, 30-27 decision over seventh-ranked Tim Elliott (10-4-1). Bagautinov (12-2) landed a lot of punches but had to fight off a second-round guillotine from the unorthodox and durable Elliott, who was not afraid to absorb several strikes to land one of his own.
The undercard featured more perspiration than inspiration although lightweight Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone and welterweight Rick (The Horror) Story were on their game.
Cerrone (21-6 with one no contest) used his striking superiority to batter Evan Dunham (14-5) before submitting him in the second round. Cerrone, ranked No. 10 among 155-pound contenders, stuffed Dunham’s takedowns and then scored one of his own before locking in a triangle choke at three minutes 49 seconds of the second round.
Both men needed a victory, having each lost two of their last three bouts. Cerrone picked up $50,000 for submission of the night.
Story (16-8) dominated with punishing strikes and leg kicks en route to a unanimous 30-27 decision over Brian (Bad Boy) Ebersole (50-16-1 with one no contest). Ebersole, his chest hair shaved into an arrow pointing upwards, made as if Story wasn’t hurting him but clearly took a lot of punishment.
Ebersole later said he has been fighting through back pain in recent bouts.
Brazilian middleweight Thales Leites used his grappling skills to have his way with Ed (Short Fuse) Herman (21-9 with one no contest) on the ground and win a unanimous 30-27 decision in a gruelling bout.
Leites (22-4) is now 2-0 in his second stint with the UFC, faring poorly in a 2009 title shot to Anderson Silva at UFC 97 in Montreal in his first go-round.
Bantamweight Sergio (The Phenom) Pettis (10-0), the younger brother of lightweight champion Anthony (Showtime) Pettis, won his UFC debut via a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision over a hard-nosed Will Campuzano (13-5).
Welterweight Jason (The Kansas City Bandit) High (19-4) won a unanimous 29-28 decision over UFC newcomer Anthony (The Recipe) Lapsley (25-6 with two no contests) in a fight contested mainly on the ground.
Mexican bantamweight Erik (Goyito) Perez looked impressive in earning a unanimous 30-27 decision over Edwin (El Feroz) Figueroa in a spirited scrap.
For Perez (14-5), it was a return to the win column after a loss to Takeya Mizugaki in August snapped a run of eight straight victories. Figueroa (9-4), who has now lost three straight, earned points for making it through the three rounds. He said later his knee “popped out” in the second round.
Light-heavyweight Gian Villante (11-4) posted his first UFC win with a TKO over (Donnybrook) Cody Donovan at 1:22 of the first round to open the card.