UFC 135: Is Josh Koscheck throwing in the towel or planning for the future?

via lowkick.blitzcorner.com

"I've got a couple of good fights left in me, whether it's at 170 or 185."

Josh Koscheck said this yesterday (Sept. 22) during the closing press junket leading up to UFC 135: "Jones vs. Rampage." 

Those are curious words for a top ten-ranked welterweight who was last seen challenging for the division's title.

But the beating he received at the hands of Georges St. Pierre seems to have broken more than the bones surrounding his eye. It seems that the mouthy, arrogant wrestling powerhouse from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) also suffered a broken spirit.

It's been almost an entire year since the 25-minute shellacking at UFC 124 but wounds like those Koscheck had inflicted on him don't heal too easily and often come with a much higher price than going under the knife and sitting on the sidelines for a few months.

The above quote sounds like a man resigned to his fate. It sounds like a man who not only knows his place in the grand scheme of things but also accepts it and plans on making the most of it.

And is that such a bad thing?

It became painfully -- figuratively for those watching and very literally for "Kos" -- that the wrestler didn't have what it takes to usurp "Rush" from his welterweight throne over the course of their bout last December. St. Pierre was just too fast, too strong, too talented, too good for Koscheck. What little doubt remained in his mind from their fight bout in 2007 was slowly and brutally erased 10 months ago.

Since that night, Koscheck has had time to lick his wound and evaluate his future. 

Does he want to put himself through the grueling process of earning another title shot? In between his bouts with "GSP," the TUF veteran took on the likes of Chris Lytle, Thiago Alves, Paulo Thiago and Anthony Johnson. He didn't win all of those fights but he stood toe to toe with a murderer's row of UFC welterweights.

The kind of abuse someone's body takes while competing at that level is not to be taken lightly. Not just the abuse absorbed inside the Octagon but also the wear and tear during training is assuredly felt every day Koscheck gets out of bed. Perhaps his neck clicks; perhaps his knee aches from time to time. The toil of a UFC fighter almost knows no end.

Approaching his mid-30s, the idea of starting from square one to once again attempt to reach the pinnacle of the sport probably doesn't sound all too intriguing. And that's what makes his statement all the more interesting.

A "couple of good fights" aren't likely to put him back in the title picture. His American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) teammate Jon Fitch was on the business end of a beating similar to the one Koscheck received and even after going undefeated in his next six bouts, he's no closer to sniffing a shot at St. Pierre than he was one or two years ago.

There's simply no interest in seeing a replay of a complete and utter one-sided beating and it seem "Kos" recognizes that. The lack of enthusiasm isn't just on the fans' side but a lot resides on the other side of the spectrum as well.

His bout with Matt Hughes -- likely to be the former champion's last -- doesn't have any relevant title implications. It's a special attraction, a showcase fight between two incredible athletes that have long wanted to lock horns. It also serves as a suitable co-main event for the UFC's latest pay-per-view (PPV) offering.

While Koscheck's resignation at finishing his career outside of the title picture might seem like the wrestler has given up and is merely cashing in on name recognition, it's actually a very astute move for someone whose career doesn't last 40 years like that of an accountant or teacher. 

His career as an active mixed martial artist (MMA) began ticking to zero the second it began. He's achieved far more than most who enter the field can ever hope to accomplish and has nothing to be ashamed of. Simply put, he's earned this. He's earned bouts that will help line his bank account. Bouts like -- despite having spent nearly all of his career at 170-pounds -- a middleweight return, which he's openly campaigned for.

The most desirable 185-pound contest would be a rematch over five years past due against TUF rival Chris Leben

Koscheck will earn tens of thousands of dollars on Saturday night and will do so again the next time he steps inside the Octagon, win or lose. No longer worried about fighting for a title shot, "Kos" is now allowed to fight for fun.

And a five-round war with "The Crippler" would be nothing but fun.

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