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Justin Lawrence floors John Cofer with head-kick KO

LAS VEGAS – Justin Lawrence looked every bit the first pick of “The Ultimate Fighter: Live.”

After outclassing fellow “TUF” cast member John Cofer for two rounds, he delivered a highlight-reel knockout via head kick in the third.

The bout took place at The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. It opened the main card on FX after a preliminary card that aired on FUEL TV and streamed on Facebook.

Initially, Lawrence’s crisp kicking got him planted on the mat. Cofer caught a side kick to open the fight and scooted them to the cage. Lawrence recovered to his feet and repaid the favor by catching a kick of his own and getting the takedown. But he wanted the fight on its feet.

Cofer charged aggressively and landed a stiff punch that wobbled Lawrence. But as the first round progressed, Lawrence began to take charge of the striking rhythm by keeping Cofer off balance, punching when Cofer kicked and kicking when punched. Lawrence worked better from the inside, and in subsequent charges, he found Cofer with a counter left.

In the second, Cofer continued to be aggressive in closing the distance. Another spinning kick allowed him to suplex Lawrence and take the back. But Lawrence wiggled free, stood and delivered a thudding right hand before settling in to guard.

The third frame had barely started when Lawrence followed a one-two with a right high kick that caught the circling Cofer’s jaw. Cofer was out before he hit the canvas, which prompted an immediate wave-off at the 0:19 mark of the round.

“My coaches told me to quit going straight back at the end of the first,” Lawrence said afterward. “The second round, I started seeing more openings. (Coach) Eric Del Fierro said, ‘high kick,’ I saw it, and I threw it.”

After falling short in quarterfinals of “TUF: Live” against finalist Mike Chiesa, Lawrence (4-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) improves his professional ledger to 4-0.

Cofer (7-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) sees a four-fight win streak snapped following a loss in the opening round of the reality show.





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