Josh Koscheck. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Sometimes things have a funny way of working themselves out. When the UFC decided to match Josh Koscheck up against rising Japanese welterweight sensation Yoshiyuki Yoshida, it was an awkward feeling for Koscheck. After all, the former collegiate standout wrestler had won two straight fights and was inching towards a title shot in a surprisingly contender-thin welterweight division.
On top of that, Koscheck had already defeated Diego Sanchez, who after going on a two-fight winning streak of his own, had been matched up against a streaking Thiago Alves in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC 90, with the winner likely being granted a welterweight title shot at some point next year.
Then Sanchez was injured during a training session earlier this month, and Koscheck stepped up as a replacement opponent for Alves on short notice without even hesitating. According to Koscheck, it’s the way things should have been from the start, him facing Alves for the next shot at the title.
“You know, it felt like me and him… we should have been fighting in the first place, but I don’t make the decisions,” Koscheck said. “I’m always in the gym training all year round, so I don’t take any time off, and I’m ready to step up and the way I see it is this is a short-notice fight for [Alves] too, and you know he’s got a lot to prepare for…because I’m not Diego Sanchez.”
Koscheck admits that he had a premonition of sorts - that either Sanchez or Alves would likely become injured at some point during their respective grueling training camps. It turned out that he was right, and with him already training for his scheduled bout against Yoshida on December 10, Koscheck says that he had to do very little adjusting for his new opponent.
“I actually had a kind of a feeling about a month, month-and-a-half ago, that one of those two could possibly get hurt, and I’ve been in the gym training really hard for my upcoming fight in December. I’ve been training very, very hard, and I just had to change a couple of things in this last week, but that’s it. For me it was just more fine tuning a couple of little things, working on strategy, and changing my diet. We’ve changed all that and we’re ready to go.”
Koscheck’s opponent, Alves, has a troubled history when it comes to making weight. The Brazilian tested positive for a diuretic that was used to help him cut weight prior to his UFC 66 bout against Tony DeSouza two years ago and was suspended for eight months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Alves then failed to make weight completely for his welterweight bout against Matt Hughes at UFC 85 in June, resulting in Hughes accepting the fight against Alves at a catch-weight of 174 lbs, although Alves blames an ankle injury for his inability to properly shed the necessary pounds. It’s clear that Alves comes into fights bigger than most welterweights, but Koscheck claims that the extra baggage his opponent carries around won’t present very many problems on Saturday night.
“I’ve fought bigger guys than him,” Koscheck said. “You know [Dustin] Haslett was six, six-two…he’s a monster. George St-Pierre’s obviously a big 170 pounder, so I’ve fought bigger guys. I don’t think he’s as tall as a lot of those other guys, he’s just really, really thick. I’ve trained with bigger guys everyday in our gym - Phil Baroni, Nate Moore, Trevor Prangley - all these guys that I get to train with are bigger than me, so you know I’m well prepared.
If he comes away from his fight against Alves relatively unscathed, Koscheck plans to fulfill his obligations in December and fight Yoshida at the UFC’s “Fight for the Troops” event as well. If he’s victorious in both bouts, Koscheck isn’t as concerned as much about a title shot as he is about avenging his disappointing loss to Georges St. Pierre last summer.
“I plan on fighting both fights, and I plan on coming out of this healthy and going to fight Yoshida and having a good next six weeks,” Koscheck said. “I’m looking for the best competition out there, and Thiago’s been on a tear lately, beating Matt Hughes and knocking out Karo Parisyan. So, you know what – why not take the fight. He’s a tough kid and I like the challenges.
As far as the title situation goes, either way, it doesn’t really matter. If B.J. Penn wins, then guess what, I’ll fight Georges for a non title…I don’t care. I believe that I can beat him. I just got to have a good training camp, be healthy and go into the match with a different mindset than I did last time. So either way it really doesn’t matter to me who wins that fight. I just think let’s get a winner and then God permitting I can come out on top in my next two fights and step up to fight whoever.”
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