UFC 124 is peaking over the horizon, and the rematch between pound for pound standout Georges St. Pierre and his latest nemesis Josh Koscheck is finally here. On Saturday, December 11th, fight fans will get to see two of the sport's most dynamic welterweights collide for the UFC title.
It is a title heavily coveted by perennial UFC bad boy Josh Koscheck, and one he strongly believes he will take home to display alongside teammate Cain Velasquez’s UFC heavyweight strap.
Hurtsbad.com recently sat in on the UFC 124 conference call between the champ and number one contender for what was a very informative and compelling line of questions and answers between two amazing fighters and some of the best journalists in the business.
The questions were not delivered by Hurtsbad, but the answers are public and worth noting for fight fans looking on.
One of the first questions posed to “Kos” was if it was a goal of his during The Ultimate Fighter to frustrate the champ, St. Pierre, to gain an advantage leading up to fight night.
Koscheck’s answer was not what fans may expect.
“No, not at all. I think that the show needed entertainment value, nothing more than that.”
Leading into the fight, Koscheck was asked what he expects from the champ and how he is preparing for the fight.
He answered as any potential champion might.
“I have been preparing for everything. Georges is a great athlete, and I think he brings a lot of athletic ability to the table when it comes to a fight, and I have to be prepared to fight everywhere. That is what I have prepared for.”
There has been a layer of criticism regarding some of Koscheck’s previous performances as far as his style and the perception it may be “boring” to the casual fan. His win over Paul Daley was cited by one reporter as he asked Koscheck’s opinion on the perception.
Koscheck was clearly not enthused by the question or insinuation that he may be a less than exciting fighter and offered this response.
“I don't know. I just know the fight is Saturday night and I'm looking forward to this fight. I don't take any of this for granted. The Ultimate Fighter is a T.V. show to showcase young people. To be entertaining, you have to do certain things. The big picture is this Saturday, December 11th, me and Georges St. Pierre get to fight and settle this thing. I'm super excited about the opportunity.”
In their first meeting, St. Pierre essentially beat Koscheck at his own game—wrestling. He was asked how that fight affected his preparation for this championship match.
“I think three years ago my primary focus wasn't becoming a complete mixed martial artist and putting things together. I underestimated the fact that Georges had the ability to put his wrestling with his mixed martial arts.”
He went on to say, “I think that's going to be a different case this time. I think a couple years ago I learned a valuable lesson. You don't get second chances in life very often, and this is the second chance I have to get a crack at Georges St. Pierre. I’ve prepared very well for this, and I believe that I'm going to be the champion on Saturday night.”
He was asked if he specifically stepped up his wrestling in particular or if his training has been similar to other camps this time out.
“Training has been very similar. I’ve brought a lot of good people in to wrestle. Obviously, because I know that Georges has done the same. We have Olympians in our gym coaching us; a lot of good wrestlers came through the gym this training camp.”
Koscheck added, “Obviously it’s a big part of the sport, and it’s a big part of the reason I lost the first fight. I’ve got to be smart and put myself around the right people to prepare for the victory, and I did that this training camp. I'm looking forward to this, I cannot wait.”
Both athletes were asked if their time on The Ultimate Fighter posed more motivation for their match with one another; for Koscheck, that certainly was not the case.
“Whether I did it or not my motivation is always to win. I don't need somebody to get under my skin to train hard. I don't need that type of motivation. I'm always motivated to train, and I love to fight.”
He went on to say, “One of the things I always say is that I'm never truly happy unless I'm in the Octagon. You know, that's why I love to fight so much. I believe that I don't need any motivation from Georges to want to kick his ass.”
The champ has been working on his boxing technique with world renowned trainer Freddie Roach, who predicts a second round knockout for St. Pierre. One reporter brought that up to Georges, and “Kos” was quick to add his two cents on both the training and the prediction, offering one of his own.
“Regarding the question you asked Georges: working with Freddie Roach is all good and all but Freddie Roach can’t strengthen your chin, and that's where I'm going to hit Georges and knock him out on Saturday.
“Also my mom predicts a second round left hook knockout too.”
On the surface, it is perceived that Koscheck plays the perfect villain. When one looks deeper, it is apparent that he knows his role and is getting in where he fits in and playing his role as best he can.
He was asked what motivates him to embrace the “anti GSP” personality. His answer was spot on, but he also pointed to his fan base to offset the negative perception many assume follows him like a rain cloud.
“It’s about money for me man. I'm here to win fights and make money just like everybody else. It’s a living. This is my job. It’s funny, you have all these people that say I'm this and I'm that, but it’s funny to see all these people that come up to me when I'm out in public that want my autograph and my picture so I don't get it.”
He points to the armchair warrior as the driving force behind the negative tone but believes his star attracts him plenty of positive reaction amongst fans.
“There must be a lot of people that get out there on those Internet forums and read the dumb stuff but it seems like every time I'm in the airport or every time I go out to eat, it’s kind of odd that if I'm the heel and I'm the most hated guy, that you see all these people coming up to me wanting autographs and pictures.”
He was asked if he felt the sport needed villains, and he answered quite frankly.
“You got to think about this, you have Georges St. Pierre's image that he tries to keep squeaky clean and he does a good job of it. Then you have me who doesn't really care what people think of him. That's why people are going to tune in on Saturday, because they want to see Georges St. Pierre kick my ass because I'm the bad guy, so called."
He added his take on how that helps the sport, the organization, and the competitors.
“So it’s a great event for the end of the year for the UFC and for mixed martial arts. It’s going to be a monster event and there is a lot of questions about this fight with me and Georges St. Pierre. We're going to see a lot of those questions answered on Saturday night.”
Koscheck posed a question of his own. “Is St. Pierre going to be another so called ‘boring Greg Jackson fighter’ and just try to take me down, or is Georges St. Pierre going to have the balls to stand there and go toe to toe with me. We will see.”
Yes, we will.
As mentioned before Koscheck’s American Kickboxing Academy, teammate Cain Velasquez recently brought home an UFC HW strap. When asked how important that is to the AKA family, and how it motivates Koscheck he had a tremendous answer.
“Training with Cain, he has come up through the ranks at the same time with me. It’s kind of funny, when me and Cain actually lived together coming up through his ranks it was a long journey for him. His hard work and dedication to the sport paid off and I think it’s going to be awesome for our gym, our management, it’s going to be awesome for everybody to have a second champion at our gym. Saturday night we are going to get that.”
“We spent a lot of time together coming up and it’s like a brotherhood at AKA.”
If Koscheck indeed does become a UFC WW champ, there is one obstacle that many people are curious about. What happens when dear friend and long time AKA brother Jon Fitch comes knocking for a title shot?
“Kos” has zero interest in fighting his good friend Mr. Fitch, period.
“We will deal with that when it happens. I’ll never fight Jon Fitch; let's just put it that way. I’ll move up a weight class or cut my leg off and move down a weight class.”
Looking back at their first fight, Koscheck was asked if he sees any weak points in the champ's game where he can monopolize.
“I definitely know how Georges St. Pierre wants to fight. Regardless of who he's working with and what he brings to the table, his game plan is obviously to use his speed and get inside and try to take me down.”
In closing he added, “If that's the case then I believe I'm going to have to obviously be ready for that. I just plan on coming to fight. I'm not trying to give away my whole game plan, Georges just best be ready for a fight that's all I can say.”
While Koscheck may not be the favorite of the odds makers or even many fans leading into Saturday’s fight, one thing cannot be denied by any of them. The man knows this business, he knows this game, and has a world of talent to implement his style and approach as he continues to strive to make his mark on MMA.
That much was painfully obvious as he candidly shared his take on his place in this sport, and his upcoming match with one of the greatest fighters this sport has ever known.
To be quite frank, he doesn't seem the slightest bit phased by the reputation of his opponent, much like his teammate Cain Velasquez wasn't leading into his fight with Brock Lesnar.
If we learned anything from that fight, it was two things: never ever believe in a fight on paper, and never ever doubt those boys training out of AKA.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad.com.