"It feels good to be back fighting. It’s what I like to do
and I enjoy getting in front of the people and putting on a show." - Josh Koscheck
Josh Koscheck doesn’t seem to be the type for New Year’s resolutions, and while he doesn’t describe it as such, his mantra for 2012 definitely has that feel to it.
“My saying this year is that I can do anything for 15 minutes,” said the longtime welterweight contender. “15 minutes of life is a very short period of time, and I truly believe I can do anything for 15 minutes. When I’m old and looking back at this I’m gonna say ‘I was a crazy dude, getting in there and fighting somebody, what the hell was I thinking?’ (Laughs) But right now, I’m young, I still got a lot of fight left in me, and I think I’m in a good place in life. And when you feel like you’re in a good place in life, good things happen to you.”
Koscheck’s optimism is well-placed. This time last year, he was coming off a five round championship loss to Georges St-Pierre that left him with a broken orbital bone. But after healing up and knocking out UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes last September, he put himself right back into contention heading into this weekend’s bout against always tough Mike Pierce, a fighter who surprised many by calling Koscheck out for the fight. “Kos” wasn’t surprised though, claiming that making noise on Twitter was the only way Pierce would get a big fight, and grudgingly, he admits the Portland native isn’t bad at the trash talk game he’s mastered.
“He’s doing a good job, I guess, for a young lad,” smirked Koscheck. “I just want to fight, and obviously nobody in the weight class would step up, so I guess I gotta fight this guy and put him in his place.”
Fighting’s the fun part for Koscheck, one of the UFC’s most active competitors, with 19 Octagon bouts already under his belt. After Saturday night, he’ll be just six away from tying Tito Ortiz’ record for most UFC fights, a remarkable accomplishment in itself for the 34-year old, but not the one he’s truly after.
“The belt’s always the important thing,” he said. “That’s what I want, but hopefully they make the winner of the (Nick) Diaz-(Carlos) Condit fight fight one more time because Georges is gonna be out for quite a while. So hopefully I get a crack at that interim title and hopefully I’ll smack whoever has that belt around and then me and Georges can get a chance to fight again.”
After going 0-2 against GSP in their first two outings, a third bout seems to be a distant prospect for the Pennsylvania native, but hope is part of the motivation process in any sport, and it helps keep him moving forward. If it doesn’t happen, will Koscheck be trudging up to Montreal when he’s 75, still looking for redemption?
“The first time he outwrestled me, the second time he cracked me the eye with a jab and I couldn’t see for 25 minutes, and I tried to tough it out just to give the fans what they paid for and I tried to win the fight regardless,” said Koscheck. “So I definitely think we have some unfinished business, but I hope I’m not 75 and still taking my walker or wheelchair up to Canada to get Georges to fight. Who knows? Hopefully, we can just settle it when we’re 75 by playing cards or doing wheelchair races if I don’t get another opportunity with him.”
There is pressing business before that though, and plenty of intriguing matchups for Koscheck at 170 pounds, beginning with Pierce in Las Vegas. That’s enough for him to put his body through more weeks of suffering to get the payoff on fight night, especially after a 2011 campaign that saw him compete just once.
“It feels good to be back fighting,” he said. “It’s what I like to do and I enjoy getting in front of the people and putting on a show. It’s better to be fighting than it is to be training. The training aspect of it is dead awful. It seems like Groundhog Day every single day. I get up in the morning at 10:40, I eat my cup of oatmeal, red cup, white spoon, half a cup of oatmeal, put honey on it, get my protein shake, get my towel, put my stuff in my training bag and walk out the door and drive to training. I do my training for two hours, come home, get my eggs, get my chicken, take an hour nap, and right back to the training at seven o’clock. I come home after that, eat, and go to bed. The training aspect of it sucks, but I enjoy the fighting aspect way more and I can’t wait to get in there and fight.”
Yet despite that monotony, Koscheck hasn’t strayed from Northern California and his relationship with the AKA Fight Team, the squad that has been with him from the start.
“There’s that old saying, if it’s not broke, why fix it?” he said. “I’ve been pretty content where I’m at, and the only reason I’m still where I’m at is because of the training partners I have. I really believe that those guys are the guys that got me here, and if you have guys of the caliber that I have to train with every day, those are the guys that have been there and have made me as successful as I am.”
This is true, but when it comes down to it, Koscheck is the one that has to make that walk to the Octagon, something that he revels in while others get frozen under the bright lights. What separates him from the pack?
“I think a lot of it comes from my background and how I’ve grown up and what I expect from myself as a person,” he said. “I think I definitely like going out there and putting pressure on myself and competing at the highest level, and it’s one of the things I’ve said throughout my career – I’m fighting in front of millions of people; why would I want to go out there and get embarrassed, when you can go out there and put on a show and succeed? Obviously not every fight in my career has always went my way – I’ve lost some and I’ve won some. And the good thing is that I’ve won more than I’ve lost. (Laughs) So I’m in a good place in life and I’m in a position where I don’t need to fight. I fight because I like it and because I want to fight and because I still have a lot to prove. Financially, I can probably stop fighting and be fine with it and worry about my gyms, and my apartments, and about the rentals that I have, and stuff like that, and be cool and just scale back my lifestyle. But I live a certain lifestyle that I’ve become accustomed to, and I love to do, so why not fight? It’s an easy way to make a lot of money.”
Being content could equate to losing some of that hunger that got you to the top before though. Koscheck doesn’t believe that’s the case with him.
“Just being content doesn’t mean I don’t want more,” he said. “More money is always good, more wins are always good. At the end of the day, it’s all about being content, and putting yourself in a position to go out there and relax and have fun with it. If I’m not having fun in this sport, by God, I’m gonna be looking for a new job. This sport takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, and if I’m not having fun with it, why put yourself through the misery.”
Why indeed? But after the rigors of training, the endless interviews, and everything else, Koscheck has 15 minutes to punch Mike Pierce in the face. And like he said, he can do anything for 15 minutes.
“If I can’t beat Mike Pierce, I better consider finding a new career or just fighting for paychecks. I gotta put it on him and prove a point to this young guy and all the young guys that think they’re gonna call me out.”