Josh Koscheck is one of the most polarizing fighters on the UFC roster.
The former contestant on season one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) has transitioned from being an insanely decorated collegiate wrestler at Edinboro University to a mixed martial arts star in less than three years.
Along the way he's made a few friends and enemies -- inside and outside the Octagon.
Love him or hate him, Koscheck is now knocking on the door for a shot at the welterweight crown in the very near future.
Standing in his way, however, is the former 170-pound champion, Georges St. Pierre, this Saturday, August 25, at UFC 74: "Respect."
UFCmania (www.ufcmania.com) got a chance to chat with Kos prior to him leaving for "Sin City." And he sounds ready to once again turn the division on it's head like he did against Diego Sanchez at UFC 69 back in April.
And he couldn't care less if you like it or not.
UFCmania: What's up Josh? Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us here at UFCmania.com. What's going on right now?
Josh Koscheck: No problem. Thanks for the opportunity. Training is pretty much done -- I've put a good three months in for this fight. I went in today for a light workout with one of my training partners. I'm going to go back tonight to get my lungs open with a little cardio and that's about it. I'm feeling great and I'm ready to fly out to Vegas tomorrow provided I don't miss my plane.
UFCmania: You're coming off of a big win at UFC 69 over Diego Sanchez. How's life been different since that fight?
Josh Koscheck: It really hasn't been different because I've been in training camp all year. I really don't do other things outside of training, my clothing company and some of the other things I have to do. So I haven't really had the opportunity to do much like travel or anything like that. I've been training ever since the New Year. I went straight back to training right after the Diego fight.
UFCmania: Considering the volatile history between you and Sanchez did that win feel better than some of the others?
Josh Koscheck: It felt good. It felt real good to avenge a loss and that's one of the biggest things as a fighter you want to do. As a fighter if you have a loss you always want to beat that other guy and show yourself that you have improved. That win shows that I'm an improving fighter and I definitely proved to myself that I could beat him. So it was a good win and a good feeling.
UFCmania: It was later revealed that he had a serious staph infection going into the fight. Is that an excuse or do you feel you beat the "real" Diego at 100 percent that night?
Josh Koscheck: Well, everyone always has excuses when they lose fights. Just look at Georges St. Pierre – he made all those retarded excuses about not training right and all of the other stuff when he lost to Matt Serra. If you lose it's time to man-up, admit it and take responsibility for your loss. You didn't win that day – too bad. Don't make excuses about it.
UFCmania: The feud is obviously not over yet. Are there plans for a rematch anytime soon if maybe things don't go your way this weekend or is it too early to even think about?
Josh Koscheck: Well, things are going to go my way this weekend. I'm not really focused on anything else other than what is on my plate right now. And that's Georges St. Pierre. All I'm thinking about right now is flying out to Vegas tomorrow and resting up for this fight. I'm not looking ahead or past Georges for the next few days at least.
UFCmania: Real quick ... what are your thoughts on the upcoming fight between Sanchez and your American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) training partner, Jon Fitch?
Josh Koscheck: You know, Diego is in a lot of trouble. I train with Jon Fitch on a regular basis at AKA and he's an absolute animal. He's the man. Fitch is going to smash Diego Sanchez. I think it's going to be an easy fight for Fitch.
UFCmania: It was clear that you had a specific gameplan for Sanchez that clearly paid off. Any clues as to what 'exciting strategy' you have in store for St. Pierre?
Josh Koscheck: Absolutely, tune in on Saturday night and watch. That's all I can say. People will get to see the gameplan that we've put together for Georges and it's going to be something exciting, something different. It's definitely something that fans have not yet seen from me — that's all I'm going to say right now. Talk to me after the fight if you want all the specifics.
UFCmania: Tell us how the training is going for St. Pierre. Are you drilling anything different?
Josh Koscheck: I don't train for specific fighters. I just train to fight. And that's every aspect of the game.
UFCmania: St. Pierre has earned a reputation -- fair or not -- of being "mentally weak" despite his obvious physical talents and abilities. Is there any way to exploit that? Or do you see any advantage to knowing that coming into this fight?
Josh Koscheck: Fighters have ups and downs in training and during fights — same goes during their careers. I'm never going to take a fight lightly and I'm certainly not going to take Georges St. Pierre lightly. I'm prepared to fight the best Georges St. Pierre ever. That's the mental state where I'm at right now. I'm going to do what I did in training and what I have prepared for during the last three months.
UFCmania: What was the thinking behind the "no heart/weak chin" comment? Is that just fight hype or do you really believe that?
Josh Koscheck: If you need a sports psychologist you definitely have some loose screws. And I think that Georges doesn't have the heart that he thinks he does. He relies a lot on his athletic ability to get him out of trouble and make up for what he lacks in terms of heart. I'm definitely going to test his heart. Don't get me wrong, Georges St. Pierre is a nice guy, but fuck, I'm a nice guy, too. I want to whoop his ass. It's business — this is my career and my livelihood on the line. I'm trying to hurt that fool.
UFCmania: What did you think of his loss to Serra at UFC 69?
Josh Koscheck: It was exciting because it shows that anyone in the welterweight division — whether it's the number one, two, three, four or five guy — can win on any given night. It's cool to see that down the line anything can happen. Serra did that and showed what mixed martial arts is all about.
UFCmania: Matt Hughes recently had a prediction on your upcoming fight and some choice words about Josh Koscheck (I read him this line). Thoughts?
Josh Koscheck: Matt Hughes is on drugs, man. I'll probably kick Matt Hughes in the neck (more on Hughes later).
UFCmania: Are you more concerned with winning fights or pleasing the crowd?
Josh Koscheck: The crowd can suck my ass because I'm going to get booed no matter what I do during a fight. It's often a bunch of drunks in the stands who don't understand the technique and aspects of mixed martial arts. These people just want to see knockouts. So when fans here can understand — like Japanese crowds do — the importance of takedowns and passing guard and nuances like that then maybe I'll care. My job is to win fights. That's what it's about if you want to get to the belt — bottom line. It's bullshit that all the guys who fight exciting fights get asked to come back. I've seen tons of guys lose exciting fights and they are not in the UFC anymore ... they're nowhere to be found.
UFCmania: Have you ever thought about fighting at 155 pounds? Is that even possible for you since you competed in college at 174 pounds?
Josh Koscheck: Mid-training camp I walk around at about 196 pounds. Right now I'm at about 184 pounds. Fighting at 155 pounds would be out of the question.
UFCmania: Do you regret not going to the Olympics and possibly putting a ribbon on your illustrious wrestling career?
Josh Koscheck: No, absolutely not. I believe that you make decisions in life and you can't regret them. I made a good decision to go and fight, which was actually a financial decision. I really didn't know much about fighting until about 2004 when I first got into it. Now, this is the last fight on my UFC contract and I'm in a good spot. This is a big fight for me.
UFCmania: This is really the last fight on your contract? Do you plan to renegotiate?
Josh Koscheck: I believe so ... three years or nine fights. Of course, but I'm focused on Georges St. Pierre right now. We'll figure out all that stuff after the fight.
UFCmania: If you weren't fighting, what would you be doing? Would you still be wrestling or coaching?
Josh Koscheck: I have some real estate ventures and this clothing company is something that I have been thinking about for as long as I can remember. I'd probably just be focusing on those two things.
UFCmania: Tell us about MAR Clothing ... what's that all about?
Josh Koscheck: MAR Clothing is something that I have been interested in since I was a kid. Now it's just starting to pound out, you know? I've got some shoes coming over from China, which will be here tomorrow, and we're just taking the business one day at a time. In addition to the clothing, we have skateboards coming, board shorts and all kinds of stuff planned.
UFCmania: Is that your company or just a line you have with MAR?
Josh Koscheck: It's 100 percent my company — I started it on a piece of scrap paper and now it's for real. It's something that is fun and interesting. It's kind of like my UFC career: It started from nothing to now I'm at a point where I know everything about it. It is also something to fall back on. I can't fight forever.
UFCmania: What does Mar stand for?
Josh Koscheck: Leave a mark or blemish. In Spanish it means beach by the ocean.
UFCmania: If you were allowed to punch the face of anyone in the UFC who would it be?
Josh Koscheck: Chris Leben. Why not? He's a punk ... always running his mouth about something and then he gets his ass kicked.
UFCmania: I spoke with Terry Martin last week (coming soon) and he's confident that he is going to hurt Leben real bad when the two meet at UFC Fight Night 11 next month.
Josh Koscheck: That's pretty awesome. I want to definitely see him get his ass kicked because he pussed out against one of my training partners, Mike Swick. That was going to be a main event on Spike television and Leben didn't want to fight him because he was scared. I hope Terry Martin does kick his ass. He's got real heavy hands and it's probably a worse match up for Leben than Swick.
UFCmania: If you could only fight one more time -- forever -- and you could fight anybody in the world of MMA, past or present, who would you like to fight?
Josh Koscheck: I'd like to shut Matt Hughes up. Now you've got me thinking about him (laughs). I mean me and Hughes have been cool but he's always been arrogant and cocky. People who think I'm arrogant and cocky have to look at Matt Hughes — he's ten times worse.
UFCmania: Would that fight turn into a wrestling match?
Josh Koscheck: Not at all. It would be me picking him apart, punching and kicking him whenever I want. He can't take me down, come on. What was he, a one-time All American? And if we did wrestle I'd beat him by 15 points, easy.
UFCmania: Did the experience on season one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) help our hurt your career?
Josh Koscheck: Being on The Ultimate Fighter was cool because it helped me begin to develop a complete game. I knew from that experience that I need to step it up and learn more about mixed martial arts.
UFCmania: Finally, you get this question all the time, but I'm going to go with a new angle. Between Jon Fitch and Mike Swick, who is the tougher match up for Josh Koscheck. Not necessarily the better fighter, but the dude who you think stylistically would give you more problems?
Josh Koscheck: Definitely Jon Fitch. He's real tough. Now Mike Swick is a tough dude, too. These guys are both tough and present different problems. Mike Swick is long, tall and really tough on his feet. On the ground Swick probably isn't at my level. On the feet he's phenomenal. Now Jon Fitch is so well-rounded — he's tough everywhere. I don't want to disrespect either one of these guys because they're my training partners and a very big reason that I am successful. We train our asses off together. Both of those guys are tough. I just think that right now Jon Fitch is a little bit above Mike but not that far.
UFCmania: Okay Josh, we're almost done. Just want to do some quick word association. I'm going to say something and you just give me the first thing that comes to mind.
Josh Koscheck: Um ... okay.
UFCmania: Diego Sanchez
Josh Koscheck: Punk!
UFCmania: Lay n' Pray
Josh Koscheck: Gay
UFCmania: Blonde or brunette
Josh Koscheck: Brunette ... damn blondes
Josh Koscheck: Illegal
Josh Koscheck: Uncalled for
UFCmania: Dana White
Josh Koscheck: Cool
UFCmania: Boxers or briefs (female reader)
Josh Koscheck: Neither ... freeball
UFCmania: UFC 74 main event winner
Josh Koscheck: Randy Couture. I can't count him out ever again after underestimating him the last time.
UFCmania: That's a wrap. Thanks again for putting up with me. Anything you want to add before we sign off?
Josh Koscheck: Thanks for the interview and the opportunity. I just want people to check out MarClothing.com, as well as my Web site and MySpace page. Don't miss this Saturday night it's going to be a great fight ... trust me.