Having earned a particular reputation coming out of the first season of the The Ultimate Fighter, Josh Koscheck has worked extra hard to help turn around opinions on what people perceived as a cocky kid with an extra dose of attitude for anyone who would listen. Now that perceived reputation is of a hard worker who is willing to take the biggest fights against the toughest opponents in the UFC.
That reputation got even more respect from fans and critics from around the world when Koscheck stepped up on short notice to go to battle with Thiago Alves in October. Facing a top five welterweight can sometimes keep a fighter from putting pen to paper on a contract, but Koscheck didn't flinch and although he lost the bout he has no regrets in taking the fight.
But because of the three-round war with Alves, the questions began immediately if he would be able to fight just two months later against Japanese Judoka, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, at the UFC "Fight for the Troops" show in North Carolina.
"I took a lot of kicks so my legs were pretty beat up," Koscheck told MMAWeekly Radio recently about his condition after the Alves fight. "I had a couple little small nagging injuries, but that's just life and that's life being a fighter and life of somebody who trains for a living."
Immediately, Koscheck was back in camp without hesitation to get that loss off his mind and step back in with top competition.
"I think it's a good match-up," Koscheck said about his fight against Yoshida. "He's definitely well rounded, I wouldn't say he's just a judo fighter. His first fight in the UFC he submitted his opponent, so I think it's a good match-up. I think the fans should expect an exciting and entertaining fight. Hopefully on both parts."
Koscheck has dealt with everything from stand-up fighters to other wrestlers to submission specialists throughout his career, but Yoshida is a different kind of animal when it comes to judo. Despite that expertise, Koscheck is confident that he will be able to impose his will on his opponent regardless of the judo pedigree.
"One of our coaches, Dave Camarillo, is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and judo so it's definitely good to have him in my corner, in my camp. Knowing strategy on what judo players do, and things like that so for me I try to focus on what I do and that's wrestling and striking," commented Koscheck. "Hopefully, I can step up and finish this fight early."
With only one fight in the UFC, Yoshida comes in with a wealth of experience and respect from other fighters coming into this bout and Koscheck understands that a win over an opponent like this puts him right back in the top contender's hunt.
"I definitely think it will put me back in the mix," Koscheck said about the fight. "He is a tough opponent. Not very many people know of him in the United States, but he's definitely a tough opponent, and I'm not really concerned about rankings. I just want to fight the best guys and just get out there and show that I am training my butt off in the gym every week and just put on good fights for the fans."
This will be another tough test for Koscheck, but even more so because he is coming off of a loss, but the former NCAA wrestling champion always seems to react well in those situations. In his previous two losses, Koscheck has come back stronger both times, submitting one opponent and knocking out the other.
"I hope that's the case this time too," Koscheck stated about his ability to bounce back after a loss. "I really don't know what it is, I'm not one that likes to lose in anything so it definitely motivates me to train harder, it motivates me to stay in the gym and stay busy so I'm not one for liking to lose."
One other hot topic on everyone's mind when it comes to Koscheck was the situation surrounding the exit and subsequent re-entry of teammate Jon Fitch, after a contract dispute between the promotion and his fight management group. Still, the former "Ultimate Fighter" cast member, says he has no comment about that deal and is only focused on one thing.
"I'm focused on fighting Yoshida on Dec 10, that's all I really care about. I'm not talking about that, I'm focused on fighting, I have a big fight coming up and that's my priority."