JoshKoscheck knows his days as an active mixed martial artist arecoming to an end.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 cast member harbors no delusions ofgrandeur at 39 years old, not after five consecutive lossesprompted his departure from the UFC and injury woes delayed hisBellator MMA debut by more than a year. In fact, Koscheck says he’slosing money by pursuing cagefighting endeavors at this point inhis life.
That’s part of why “Kos” can’t quite commit to anything beyondSaturday’s bout against Brazilian journeyman MauricioAlonso at Bellator 172 in San Jose, Calif. So far, it’s love ofcompetition that keeps Koscheck, a four-time NCAA All-Americanwrestler at Edinboro University, coming back for more.
“My days are numbered, just like everybody’s,” Koscheck said with alaugh. “But as of right now I’m living the dream. Who knows? Idon’t know what tomorrow brings. I don’t know what [Saturday isgonna bring. I don’t know what after is gonna bring.
“I lose money by coming in and training. I’m away from my company.It is what it is. I’m willing to take that risk to go out there andcompete. There’s one thing I love and that’s getting my handraised. It’s been a while since I’ve had that. That’s the goal. Goout there and compete and get the win.”
Koscheck signed with Bellator in 2015 with an excitement to competeon Spike, the network that jumpstarted MMA’s rise to prominencewith “TUF 1.” However, he pulled out of two scheduled bouts andspent much of 2016 recovering from bulging discs in his neck, anailment which surfaced as a product of a 2001 procedure to fuse hisfifth and sixth cervical vertebrae.
“I trained pretty hard and smart for this fight. I trained a lotdifferent than I have in the past,” Koscheck said. “I’m not one ofthose young kids that can go in there and just hack every singleday. When your body tells you you need a day off, you take a dayoff. But I’m in pretty dang good shape. I think that’s one ofthings I was pretty surprised about was how quickly my body reactedto getting back into shape.”
However, Koscheck was just barely on the road to recovery when thepromotion announced that he would fight former UFC rival Paul Daley atBellator 158 in London this past summer. At the time, Koscheck wasdealing with nerve damage that left him struggling to lift 15pounds with his left arm. Still, he says the California-basedpromotion went ahead and booked the matchup in hopes that Koscheckwould recover in time for the July 16 event.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Koscheck, who was motivated tosign with Bellator in part because he wanted another crack at theBritish knockout artist. Koscheck defeated Daley via unanimousdecision at UFC 113, and a frustrated “Semtex” threw a cheap shotat his opponent after the final bell. Those actions resulted in alifetime Octagon ban for Daley.
“I’ll fight Paul Daley anyday. In shape, out of shape. The last time around in London, Iwasn’t even cleared to fight. They booked the fight, so it kind ofmade me look bad as far as pulling out of the fight,” Koschecksaid. “I kept telling them, ‘Why are you guys booking this fight?’I told my manager, I’m not even healthy…Even at the pressconference I just wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t training, I wasn’t doingmuch of anything other than working on my companies.”
While Daley claims to have moved on from wanting a rematch with hisrival, Koscheck says there is still plenty of heat between the twowelterweights.
” If I saw Paul Daley onthe street today in Fresno I’d try to fight his ass, and I’m surehe’d try to fight me. That’s just the mentality we have with eachother,” Koscheck said. “He’s getting older too and he keeps gettingin these slugfests and he’s getting slower. It’s still the samefight for me. I’ll take him down and beat the piss out of him againand make him cry.”
For now, Koscheck isn’t quite ready to commit to a retirement date,not when the competitive fire still burns. If victory comes for thefirst time since 2012, Koscheck might find that he wants to gothrough the whole process again.
“The last year was pretty tough with the neck injury that I had.Those things are never fun,” he said. “I took some time away fromthe sport for a while and just figured, ‘Why not get back here andget an opportunity to get my hand raised?’ When you’re away fromthe sport, you kind of miss it until you get back into the trainingand then you hate it. It’s the competition that drives me. I’vealways been competitive. We’ll see happens. Just take it one day ata time.”