Growing up is hard to do. It's even harder when you're growing up in front of millions of people on television. But that's exactly what Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight Josh Koscheck did as a member of the cast for the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show.
Coming onto the show, Koscheck only had a handful of fights and an impressive resume that included an NCAA championship in wrestling at Edinboro University in 2001. What he learned on the show was a first hand lesson in the world of MMA and how reality shows can soon become a reality after the filming is finished.
During the show's filming, Koscheck became everyone's favorite bad guy, taunting and prodding at housemate Chris Leben, until the two finally fought on the show. When he won the fight, Koscheck's intensity only seemed to grow while his protagonists kept at him before and after the season ended.
Now entering his 13th professional fight, facing veteran Chris Lytle at UFC 86 on Saturday night, Koscheck understands that how the fans perceive him could make or break his career as a successful mixed martial artist.
"TV can give you a false sense of who a person is," Koscheck stated. "So for me it's all about turning fans around and really showing these fans who I really am as a person. That's one of the big things I'm trying to do."
During his downtime away from fighting, he focuses on his clothing brand, Mar Clothing, which will launch a whole new line this August. It was his move into business that made him realize that The Ultimate Fighter may have launched his career, but he didn't walk away as the fan favorite from the show.
"One of the things I've seen from being a businessman is image. People, if they hate me, they're never going to buy my stuff, so one of the things I'm trying to do as a mixed martial artist is I'm trying to change my image," said Koscheck. "I want to be liked by everybody.
"At the end of the day, I'm a businessman and I want to provide for my family, provide for myself and build something that I believe in. The more opportunity I have to show people who I really am, and people out there get to know me as a person, I think they will definitely see a different side to me."
While he works on showing fans a different side of his personality, he's already shown an exciting fighting style with his last fight, beating Dustin Hazelett by TKO at UFC 82 in March.
Now Koscheck faces a veteran in Chris Lytle, who will present a myriad of problems in the fight, being a former pro boxer and one of the most well rounded fighters in MMA.
"He's coming off a couple wins and he's a good opponent, well respected. He represents himself well, he represents the sport well, and he's a class act," Koscheck commented on Lytle. "It's going to be a good fight for me. I think it's a fight that I can win and it's a fight that I think can put me one step closer... to be the No. 1 contender to fight for the title."
Facing tough opponents is nothing new to Koscheck, but this time he will be facing a respectful fighter in Lytle. As previously mentioned, Koscheck has not been a stranger to verbal wars with opponents such as Chris Leben and most recently, Diego Sanchez, but he likes the idea of fighting a person like Lytle, who keeps the trash talk to a minimum.
"It's less pressure that's for sure. Because when you hate somebody, you really, really want to kick the (expletive) out of them and you don't want to lose to them, so there's a lot less pressure on this fight," said Koscheck. "I'm just going out and I'm having some fun, just like my last fight."
Confident in the skills he possesses and the training camp he's had leading into this bout, Koscheck is ready to go for his showdown with Lytle at UFC 86.
"I definitely have a game plan. Javier Mendez at AKA and Bob Cook came up with that game plan. It's just my job to go out and execute it, and get the win," he said. "I feel that I can win this fight anywhere, and I feel that if I have to, bottom line, I'll do what I need to do to win."