Former welterweight title challenger goes after third straight
Josh Koscheck knows his fight on Saturday is a huge one when it comes to welterweight title contention. And that would be a big deal if he had gold on the brain. But he doesn't.
Koscheck has battled through a rocky patch in his career to get to this point – the co-main event against fellow wrestling standout Johny Hendricks at UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller. But he believes he has come out even stronger on the other side of a split from his longtime training home at American Kickboxing Academy – and that, he thinks, may be an advantage not just on Saturday, but in extending his career.
"I know there's a lot riding on this fight – I think for both of us," Koscheck said on a UFC on Fox media call last week. "The winner goes on to a nice path toward the title shot, and the loser goes who knows where. So there's a lot at stake for this fight, and I'm ready to roll. ... I'm not worried about a title shot right now. I'm worried about getting up in New Jersey, making weight and fighting on May 5."
Koscheck (17-5, 15-5 UFC) is coming off a win over Mike Pierce, though it wasn't the kind of performance that had many people wowed. Koscheck even admitted after the split decision victory at UFC 143 that he had a hard time getting motivated for the fight. And perhaps that was owed to his break from AKA in San Jose, Calif., in favor of his own gym, Dethrone Base Camp in his home of Fresno. It was a quiet split that Koscheck seemed to sneak in under the radar during fight week for the Pierce bout.
But after the fact, he says the camp for Hendricks (12-1, 7-1 UFC) has been a good one with the distractions of his AKA breakup out of the way.
"I've got a lot of changes, but I have a couple of the guys from San Jose coming in and out and this whole camp has had a lot of new training partners," Koscheck said. "It's been a good training camp – probably one of the better training camps that I've had in a while, and the focus has been 100 percent me."
Koscheck also seemed to go above and beyond in his preparation for Hendricks' wrestling. Though Koscheck is a four-time NCAA Division I All-American and a national champion wrestler, Hendricks also is a four-time All-American – but with two national titles, and from a school with a much stronger wrestling pedigree in Oklahoma State.
"I have had new striking coaches, personal time and personal attention with those types of coaches," Koscheck said of his camp. "And I hired Alan Fried as my wrestling coach. He's one of the former greats in wrestling and a former Oklahoma State guy – and probably one of the best wrestlers to come out of there. So I think that I've got a lot of good people around me and a lot of people that actually care."
And to go with those people who "actually care," Koscheck has cut down on his commute, which was in the neighborhood of 150 miles each way between his Fresno home and San Jose.
"It’s good to finally, after eight years, to never have to travel and just stay at home and do my training right here in Fresno," Koscheck said. "I’m in a great place, and I can’t wait to fight May 5 and show that I made the right decision and have the right training partners and the right coaches."
Those coaches, Koscheck said, still will include Bob Cook from AKA on Saturday, as well as Dave Camarillo. But the way Koscheck is talking, none of them may matter.
He has just one thing on his mind, and that's getting a win on Saturday in New Jersey, regardless of how it has to happen.
"I don't care where the fight takes place – I just know I'm going to win," Koscheck said. "If it's on the ground, whatever. If it's standing up, whatever."