For Josh Koscheck, Sometimes Being A Bad Ass Fighter Isn’t Enough
In the storied sports history of Montreal, the city has seen many hometown heroes face-off with heated rivals and hated opponents.
Saturday night, a UFC title clash will be added to the list, as Georges St-Pierre defends his welterweight title against Josh Koscheck. Despite the long list of visitors who have drawn the ire of the passionate fans in La Belle Province, the challenger has continued his climb up the list ofunpopular figures over the last year, and he could earn the top spot if he leaves town with the belt around his waist.
Koscheck expects to do both on Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be a great event and I know that they opened up more seats, so there is going to be probably 23,000 people there, which is going to be crazy,” said the 31-year-old challenger of the chance to face the champion in his own backyard. “The roof is going to blow off the place when I come out, but the place is going to go silent when I knock St-Pierre out. It’s going to be a fun event for me, and it’s going to be a sad event for a lot of French-Canadians.”
Across every division, there are fighters with solid winning streaks overlooked when a place in the spotlight opens up because they’re lacking that je ne sais quoi, and the welterweight division is no different.
Koscheck’s teammate Jon Fitch has a longer winning streak against higher-profile opponents, but it is the outspoken and easily marketed member of American Kickboxing Academy who was given the first second chance against St-Pierre. More than anyone, Koscheck embodies the dichotomy between results and marketability that dictates which fighters will receive high-profile opportunities inside the Octagon. It’s a strategy he thinks more fighters should consider as they come onto the biggest stage of them all.
“I think it’s important for these young guys coming into this sport to either have a character or just be plain bad-ass fighters, but sometimes being a bad-ass fighter isn’t enough. If you look at the WWE, they’ve done it for years – building characters and storylines – and I think that’s a big part of our sport. If we had more guys in there with personality, I think you would see a lot more fans tuning in to watch them fight.”
No one knows the power of a persona more than Koscheck.
From the day he walked into The Ultimate Fighter house on the ground-breaking first season of the Spike TV staple, Koscheck has earned a fair amount of attention for his way with words, particularly the biting ones. While he’s evolved into a complete mixed martial artist, his polarizing persona remains the main subject when conversations turn in Koscheck’s direction, and the welterweight contender breaks down the duality expertly.
“People let reality TV interfere with their perception, and for myself, I think a lot of people judge the book before they read it. I’ve done very well with my personality and been able to prosper financially off being the so-called bad boy, and it seems like everyone always tunes in to see [me] fight, and that will be the same case [Saturday night.]
“[The fans] know that I always come to fight, regardless of how much crap I talk, and people will tune in because there is just that it factor; they either want to see me get my ass kicked or they want to see me win.”
Most of the rabid fans who will fill the Bell Centre to capacity on Saturday night will be hoping for the former, just as the passionate supporters of Les Canadiens have rooted against the other five members of the NHL’s “Original Six” and every opponent of “le bleu, blanc et rouge” over their illustrious history.
But tucked away quietly, in seats throughout the arena or watching at home and in bars around the world, there will be those who wish for the latter, and the torrent of trash talk a Koscheck win would produce. As for the man who inspires these opposing opinions, the Pennsylvania native puts it as only he can.
“I don’t really care what people’s opinions are about me, because I know the people around me that care about me and truly love me. I’m not in this sport to make friends; I’m here to make money and win titles and that’s the opportunity I have on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to it.”
So are we.