Former welterweight title challenger believes he’ll get another shot at belt
From his time on the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter” up to his run as one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world, Josh Koscheck has forged his own path and found success on his own terms.
His confidence, blended with a unique brand of self-aware arrogance, has forced MMA fans to choose on which side of the line to stand. Fans either love him or hate him. But regardless of the emotions he may illicit from the MMA community, his resume speaks for itself.
Throughout his career, the former NCAA Division I wrestling champion has operated with an anytime/anywhere mentality as he has worked his way up the divisional ladder. Since signing on with the UFC in 2005, Koscheck has stepped up to face every challenge presented to him. And when he squares off with fellow contender Johny Hendricks on Saturday at UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller in New Jersey, it will be his 21st outing under the UFC banner.
Whether or not a victory over Hendricks will put him into position for another title shot doesn’t matter to Koscheck because just like every other obstacle in his life, he will find his own way through.
“It doesn’t matter to me who I fight,” Koscheck told HeavyMMA. “Obviously at some point in my career I want to get back to a title shot. But I don’t care who I fight. Just put someone in front of me and I’ll beat them up. At some point I’ll have cleared everybody out and they’ll have to give me a title shot. I’m not worried about that right now. The most important thing for me when it is all said and done is to have my bank account full.”
When looking at the matchup between Koscheck and Hendricks, the similarities are difficult to ignore. Both have outstanding wrestling credentials and one-shot knockout potential in their hands. This style has brought excitement into the wrestle-heavy welterweight division, and while Koscheck was one of the first fighters in the weight class to put the unique mixture of skills on display, he’s modest about taking credit.
“I guess you could say I’ve had something to do with it,” Koscheck said. “But realistically there are always going to be younger guys coming into the sport. They are going to learn how to wrestle and learn how to strike. Fighters are getting better because the sport has been around for a while now. I think the sport is growing and we are getting to see a lot of new talent that is coming into the division or into the UFC in general.”
There have been a lot of changes over the course of his seven years with the organization. Just as the welterweight division he’s always called home is experiencing a shake-up due to the rise of new contenders, on the personal side of things, Koscheck has done some realigning of his own.
Following his victory over Mike Pierce in February, Koscheck announced he was parting ways with Javier Mendez and the crew at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., and would now be training at his own facility in Fresno, where he has lived and owned businesses for several years. The media attention surrounding the split with Mendez grabbed headlines, but whenever the stresses of his career begin to creep up, Koscheck turns to the skies and puts the outside world on mute.
“Flying is something I enjoy and it’s like my little get-away,” Koscheck said. “It’s been a hobby of mine now for about a year or so. I travel a lot in California and it’s nice to get into a plane rather than a car. It takes me 50 minutes to get from Fresno to L.A., and where I used to drive to San Jose, now it’s like a 25 minute flight. Even San Francisco is 35 minutes in the air. It’s really easy to just get in a plane and go. When you are in the air and you are flying, you don’t think about anything other than what’s going on around you. It’s kind of like a training session for your brain. It gives me peace and relaxation.”