Eric Koch did everything but put Dustin Poirier out cold with a triangle choke in the thrilling opening round of their featherweight bout Saturday night.
But not only did Poirier manage to escape in the nick of time, but he rallied to win both a sensational round one and a solid fight in a divisional top-10 battle at UFC 164 which lived up to the hype.
Poirier won via unanimous decision on scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 29-27.
After breaking out of the early triangle, Poirier turned the round around with a huge right hand which landed flush on the jaw and dropped Koch to the mat. Poirier got a deep choke late in the round, but Koch was saved by the horn.
Round two was a 10-8 round on two scorecards, which Poirier dominated both in the standup and on the ground. Koch came out of it with a bloody nose and a cut below his right eye.
Koch won round three and spent much of the final minute working for submissions, but it wasn't enough for the Milwaukee fighter to win in front of his hometown crowd.
"I can't lie, I was close to going out," said Poirier. "He had that in tight. I found myself almost about to go out. But I just willed myself and knew i had to turn it around from there."
Poirier (13-4), an American Top Team Fighter, won for the second time in his past three fights. Koch (13-3) has dropped two in a row.