When Josh Koscheck defeated Paul Daley to become the number one contender for the UFC Welterweight Championship, he also won another opportunity. Koscheck landed himself the chance to become one of the two coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Season 12, opposite his next opponent, Georges Saint-Pierre.
For Koscheck, it was an obvious sign of how far he had gone in his career, as Koscheck returned to the show that he was once a contestant on in season 1. Now, with a chance to coach the next winner of TUF, and a second opportunity to win the Welterweight title, the Pennsylvania native was facing potentially the greatest few months of his career.
Unfortunately, things have not exactly gone to plan for Koscheck.
His team has just three members left from the eight fighters who reached the quarter finals. Koscheck has largely been out-coached by Saint-Pierre, and he has been left looking a fool following GSP’s intelligent decision not to engage in trash-talking; something Koscheck is particularly well-versed in.
On last week’s episode of TUF, Koscheck stooped as low as to resort to physical violence (albeit in a very mild form) against Team GSP’s medic, Brad Tate. He also put his hands in the face of Dane Sayers, a member of Team GSP who had turned peacemaker in the squabble.
Koscheck’s behaviour has been variable to say the least. On occasions he has shown the sort of maturity that many believed was way above him, and there is little doubt that he has coached his team well. He has even been a part of the show’s most light-hearted moments (his ‘fight’ with Tate using a plunger and a bin must be at the top of the list).
Furthermore, his maturity was on display when it dawned on him what happened with Sayers, who had left the room in anger, during the scuffle. Koscheck, despite Saint-Pierre’s offer to calm Sayers, went to speak to the fighter himself and offered an apology. The red mist had clearly descended for Sayers, and Koscheck did a good job of defusing the situation and taking responsibility for his actions, knowing he had clearly crossed the line.
The apology and plunger incident are just two in a number of moments that make MMA fans want to like Josh Koscheck. The only problem is, he immediately follows up these moments with an action or rant that make you realise why you disliked him in the first place.
A battle between Koscheck and Tate, armed with a plunger and bin respectively, was the sort of light-hearted moment that makes TUF so entertaining. Unfortunately, Koscheck’s inability to deal with any of the trash-talking that he so willingly engages in, led to the conflict turning violent.
The disagreement with Tate spanned from days of Koscheck calling the medic a “male nurse.” Without going into the details of Koscheck’s ignorance, and why Tate’s profession is both reputable and vital to society, the mere ‘insult’ that he was throwing around did nothing to enhance his reputation as a human being. It succeeded only in showing his narrow-minded and sanctimonious beliefs, as well as how juvenile “Coach Koscheck” can be.
No disrespect intended to fighters, but it is difficult to argue that the career of a mixed martial artist earns you more respect than a “male nurse."
However, Tate’s verbal retaliation appeared to out-do any of the comments that Koscheck had fired off, and his barb about Koscheck only being better than GSP at “faking a knee,” (in reference to the phantom knees which Koscheck pretended made contact with his skull in two previous bouts) made Team Yellow’s leader lose his head.
Following the exchange, Koscheck needlessly put his hands on the throat of Tate, and a melee ensued in which the Sayers-Koscheck confrontation came about.
Sitting calmly on the bench throughout was Georges Saint-Pierre, firmly reasserting his relaxed and professional approach to any sort of conflict, be it in or outside of the Octagon, as he continues to enhance his reputation as the “nice guy” of MMA.
Koscheck’s apology to Sayers, and attempted reconciliation with Tate (if offering to hold hands can be classed as that), immediately showed Koscheck in a better light.
Sadly, he again shot himself in the foot, following this up with a ridiculous diatribe about how Saint-Pierre was responsible for the trash-talking Tate, and how Tate was only on the show to try and get under his skin. Koscheck finally asserted that he would never surround himself with people like Tate, despite his failure to realise that he is in fact the same as the trash-talking Tate, multiplied several times over.
Again Saint-Pierre was calmness personified, as he told the world how he told his team, and in particular Tate, not to engage in trash-talking with Koscheck, stating that it was the sort of activity you would expect to see in Kindergarten.
Sorry, Koscheck, but methinks you were just a little off the money with your latest rant.
Each week Koscheck manages to go from one extreme to the other, and his good coaching, and determination to turn things around following three straight defeats to Team GSP, was commendable.
The manner in which he helped his team celebrate its first win—by banging on the walls of their defeated opponent’s changing room and inviting himself to the fighters’ house to gloat in front of the opposition—was anything but.
That is a good example of the man Koscheck is.
He shows signs of being the respectable, responsible, inspiring coach, before immediately reverting to the brash, arrogant, juvenile, and largely demeaning fighter we see time and time again on camera. It makes for good television, but does little to help his reputation.
When Koscheck won his bout with Daley, there were two possible routes he would inevitably take as coach on TUF.
The first was that of the class-clown. Insulting, trash-talking, and arrogant—making himself look the fool as the cool, calm, collected Saint-Pierre refused to involve himself in Koscheck’s antics.
The second route was that of Tito Ortiz in TUF 3.
Ortiz coached opposite Ken Shamrock on that series of the show, and was widely expected to act in the manner previously used to describe Koscheck.
Instead, Tito became an inspiring coach to his young fighters, and helped his team work hard to become better. He engaged in the odd spot of trash-talking, which definitely helps make the show all the more watchable, but he kept his cool and on the whole looked like a role model his fighters could look up to.
Ortiz, perhaps surprisingly, out-coached Shamrock, who was a widely respected MMA legend and veteran. Ortiz then backed up any comments he made to Shamrock on the show by defeating him when the two men met in the Octagon for second time of their three encounters (all won by Ortiz).
It appears Koscheck combined the two paths laid out for him before he became a coach, but his trash-talking, arrogant attitude seems to finally be winning through.
As of today, he looks unlikely to out-coach Saint-Pierre, and have one of his fighters win the season. Sure, that can change, but the favourites for the competition all appear to sit on Team GSP.
Secondly, Koscheck is a heavy underdog going into his contest with GSP at UFC 124; a contest which will take place in Saint-Pierre’s backyard, Montreal. With the entire crowd in attendance set to back Saint-Pierre in the fight, you have to question whether Koscheck’s temperament will hold out.
This is a man who lost his cool when a medic joked about him feigning injury. With the whole crowd baying for his blood, will he be able to implement an effective and successful game-plan, or will he revert to type and allow the crowd’s reaction get under his skin, perhaps costing him the title he covets?
Nobody can argue that Koscheck isn’t entertaining; he most definitely is. However, it is not always a positive to make good television. He is slowly making himself look more and more foolish with his erratic behaviour, and mindless (and often groundless) insults towards coaches or fighters on Team GSP.
Perhaps he should take a page out of Tito’s book and conduct himself in a manner which will earn him respect, instead of constantly looking to disrespect others.
There are obvious similarities between Ortiz and Koscheck. Both were brash, arrogant, young fighters which a huge abundance of talent when they coached on TUF. However, Ortiz came out of the show with increased popularity, a lot more respect, and a group of young fighters who had thrived under his tutelage.
Koscheck may only have the latter when his reign ends, and although his impact upon those fighters will be a good contribution to the world of mixed martial arts, his legacy looks set to be one of him running his mouth, but never being able to deliver the goods.
As he carefully wavers between the like-able coach and the class clown, Koscheck is slowly veering towards the latter. If he has any sense he would have looked to carefully correct that label over the rest of the series, but only time will tell, and past behavior suggests that it is unlikely he will ever change his tune.
Sadly, you fear that despite all his potential as a good coach and a respectable fighter, he is quite happy playing the fool (whether he realises it or not), and it is getting him nowhere.
That is the Josh Koscheck we all love to hate, and that, like Koscheck, will never change.