Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Josh Koscheck talks upcoming UFC 69 bout with Diego Sanchez

By Robert Cheshire

“It is a fight and I would love to be the first person that puts that notch on Diego” – Josh Koscheck

I caught up with Josh recently during a break in his training schedule. We talked about his upcoming fight with Diego Sanchez at UFC 69 in Houston, TX on April 7th and his other plans for the future. Josh has been training hard and is making great strides towards removing the notion that he is or ever will be called “The Blanket” again.

RC: Everyone knows how the feud between you and Chris Leben started. How did it start between you and Diego?
JK: After we fought on the show we pretty much didn’t like each other. When we saw each other he would give me dirty looks and would run his mouth saying he kicked my ass. This and that you know. I don’t really know; I just know we don’t like each other. The whole aspect of us getting to fight again is going to be a bitter sweet victory.

RC: Which one do you dislike more?
JK: (laughter) Whew…Ummm, I don’t know.

RC: You dislike them both on different levels.
JK: Yeah, with Leben just because of his antics and his attitude. However, with Diego it’s more his personality, his look, how he tries to hotdog you and s--t like that. I honestly just don’t like either of them that well.

RC: What did you think of Diego’s Valentine’s Day message to you on your myspace account?


JK: Actually, I thought it was funny that he would go that low to post something on my myspace. I have a friend that runs it for me and I don’t even go on there and check the messages. I heard it through the grapevine. It’s pretty funny and that shit doesn’t bother me. I don’t get on the forums or read the interviews. I’m just focused on my training and worrying about myself. I don’t care what Diego is doing or posting on myspace. He is obviously nervous about the fight or he wouldn’t go on there and do that.

RC: Your only UFC loss was from Drew Fickett where you were dominating until those last few seconds when you got caught with the knee. Where do you see yourself in line for a title shot?
JK: I’m not worried about a title shot right now. I’m just focusing on Diego Sanchez. I’m not even focused on gold right now. I still have a lot of work to do. My priority is focusing on my training for the next month and doing what I have to so I can win my fight on April 7th.

RC: What camp are you training with right now?
JK: I’m still with American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. Training is going well and I have a lot of great training partners. I’ve been training with Jon Fitch getting him ready for his fight. I’ve also been training with Mike Swick, Josh Thomson, Bobby Southworth, Trevor Prangley, Jake shields, Gilbert Melendez, and just an endless amount of talent in training partners.

RC: I know that you sometimes go to other camps and help people train for their fights. Do you still do that?
JK: I did that in the beginning because I wanted to get as much experience as I could with different people. I have that experience now so I’m focusing on my career and my training. Now, if someone is willing to pay me to come in and train with them I would do that.

RC: I can tell with your last few fights that you have improved on your striking and that you were visibly discouraged in your post fight interview from the Joslin fight where you tried to show the other elements of your striking game but had to return to your strong point with the wrestling and weren’t able to showcase some of your other strengths.
JK: Yeah, in my last fight I didn’t get to strike and I was disappointed with that. I just didn’t have my movement. I think because I had been working super hard on my strikes I had too high of expectations; higher than normal so I was disappointed. The important thing is you win and move on. You put yourself up there in top contention for a title someday.

RC: You have a role in the movie “Never Submit” that starts filming around April right?
JK: Yeah, I got a part in the movie and it should be pretty dope! Hopefully it turns out to be a good movie. It has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid to get into the movies and fighting has opened that opportunity for that. I’ve got my lines and have been working on them in my spare time. It has been fun. It’s going to be a good opportunity for me to get my foot in the door. If I do a good job, which most of the things I touch I do a good job with, hopefully I will have other opportunities in the future to do more movie roles.

RC: I have read the synopsis for the movie and it looks like they do a good job of portraying a mma fighter.
JK: The thing about me is that I didn’t want to be a fighter in the movie. I want to show my acting and not get stereotyped as just being a fighter. I can do other skills and want to just straight up act and show that. I want to expand on the movie industry in the future

RC: So you’re not going to be a fighter in the movie?
JK: No, I’m not.

RC: OK, because I was going to say that I heard that the UFC is no longer supportive of this movie due to Imperia Entertainment violating an agreement with the UFC and Dana and was going to ask where that left you. Since you’re not a fighter in the movie I guess that changes things a bit.
JK: I don’t know the whole logistics to it, but I can do whatever I want in the movie. If I choose to be a fighter I could do it but I chose not to because I don’t want to be stereotyped into being a fighter in a fighting movie. If I take the right roles early in my career I think it will be beneficial to my future. I want to be in a leading role someday.

RC: When you were on season one of The Ultimate Fighter they made a big deal of saying you, Bobby Southworth and Chris Leben had to pay for damages to the house. However, since then it appears that the fighters are encouraged to tear things up. What are your thoughts on that?
JK: Yeah, they should reimburse us! (laughter)

RC: That was my thought.
JK: I’m just a fighter trying to make some money. I want to be able to support myself and become financially set and that’s why I’m fighting. I’m fighting because I have the opportunity to make some money. I’m tired of eating Ramen noodles, macaroni & cheese, and hot dogs. Eventually, I want to win that belt and make some real money. That’s why I’m fighting.

RC: Yeah, it doesn’t seem fair that Chris goes through a door and you all have to pay for it then Mikey Burnett is encouraged to go through a wall and we don’t hear anything else about paying for damages.
JK: That’s life and you have to deal with it. That was then and this is now and times are changing. Lorenzo, Frank, Dana and the producers said we had to pay for it. They are the bosses and we are the grunts so we have to do what they say.

RC: Are you at liberty to say how much you had to pay?
JK: I honestly don’t remember and don’t have a clue how much they made us pay. I just remember they did take it out of our checks.

RC: What have you thought about some of the other seasons of The Ultimate Fighter?
JK: I think they are good. Obviously, everyone is going to remember the first season because it was the originator. I think the other seasons are very good and have their strong points and some their weak points. Ultimately, it’s the best thing for the sport to continue to have The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV to get the publicity the sport needs to grow the fan base for fighters. Growing the fan base helps everyone make more money. If the sport doesn’t grow then you will never see pay increases for the fighters or million dollar purses on a consistent basis for more than just a few fighters in the UFC.

RC: Right! Plus it helps so much with the fan base knowledge. My wife started watching the UFC shows on Spike just because I did and the last couple of seasons she has been able to remember who many of the different TUF and UFC fighters are. The first few times she did that I was like “this is my wife that knows this?!?” That’s why I think it’s fantastic to build the knowledge base.
JK: That’s what it is. It’s about people becoming educated on the sport and understanding the sport. That brings in more fans. Once we get more fans and the UFC grows, the fighters make more money. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t want to fight for s--t money the rest of my life. I want to make a living and make it where my family someday won’t have to worry about working.

RC: The exposure gets you more name recognition too which can help with acting or whatever else it is you want to do.
JK: Absolutely and until we have that recognition and the sport grows to where it needs to be we are going to be in that same boat. We need to grow as a whole not just as one organization but as a whole community in mixed martial arts.

RC: Has there been anyone that has impressed you on the other seasons?
JK: There are a lot of good fighters. I think that anybody that steps in there to fight has respect just because he has the balls to step in there and go one on one with another guy that is training just to kick your ass. There are a lot of guys that are doing well since they were on the show. I’m real impressed with Melvin Guillard. I love the way he fights. He is tough and loves to bang and is very athletic. He is going to be hard to beat.

RC: Is there anybody from the other seasons that you would like to fight?
JK: I don’t really care who I fight. Be it Diego, Leben, Matt Hughes, St. Pierre, Karo Parisyan or anybody the UFC wants to put in front of me I just want to fight some of the best in the weight class and put myself in contention for a title shot. Then I can win the title and make some real money.

RC: Is your contract for several more fights or is it about to be renewed?
JK: I should be up for another contract in about 6 – 8 months if the UFC wants to keep me. Hopefully I will get to stay with the best organization around and that is the UFC. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep wining and they will have to keep me (laughter). You never know. Right now I have a good relationship with the UFC and I’m very loyal to them. I do what I can to support them and I don’t think there is another organization that can compare to the UFC and I hope I’m their champion someday.

RC: In the news they recently talked about Eric Wray passing away. Did you know him or train with him much?
JK: Yes I did actually. It was a sad thing. We came into practice on Wednesday and they were talking about it and I’m like “WHAT?!?” It really is a sad thing. He was not only someone I know and trained with but it sucks that he had to go out like that. He was a good kid. He had a good record and his only loss was to Von Flue at Strike Force. He was an up and coming kid. He was young and it was sad to see someone be addicted to something. I don’t know all the details of how he passed. May God be with him and his Family. For you young kids out there – keep your head on straight and stay out of the drugs.

RC: Do you have any sponsors that you would like to thank since you can’t do it in the ring anymore.
JK: Yes I do. I actually have a new clothing line coming out called Mar Clothing and it should be out this Spring. I also have several sponsors and you can go to my website at www.kosmma.com to check them out.

RC: Is there anything you’d like to add or say to the fans?
JK: Fans – keep supporting me. I know a lot of people go online and bitch about how much the UFC pays its fighters but it is all about you guys. You’ve got to keep buying the PPV’s, keep supporting your fighters and go to their web pages and buy their gear. That is what supports the up and coming fighters. A lot of them have it hard trying to support themself and train full time. If you want to see this sport grow we’ve got to take care of our young fighters.

RC: That’s all the questions I have. I appreciate you taking the time for the interview.
JK: Hey, no problem. You have a good day.


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