Top-10 welterweight Josh Koscheck has been featured by Stephan Bonnar’s apparel company “Trash Talking Kids” and it has created a dilemma.
Two-years ago, Koscheck (15-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) entered into an exclusive sponsorship deal that prohibited him from being featured by an additional apparel company.
Therefore, Bonnar’s use of Koscheck for his t-shirt company has placed the welterweight in breach of contract.
Koscheck and manager Bob Cook previously spoke to Bonnar regarding the situation and production of the shirt. According to Koscheck, his Ultimate Fighter Season 1 cast mate never ceased promotion of the shirt after their meeting.
Earlier in the week, news hit that Bonnar is being sued by Koscheck and the light-heavyweight gave his side of the story.
BleacherReport.com recently caught up with Koscheck to get his thoughts on the situation and hear his side of what is taking place between the UFC veterans.
“This situation is very black and white," (Koscheck who is 14-4 in the UFC said). "There’s a side of right and a side of wrong and I’m on the side of right. Stephan Bonnar and his company are on the side of wrong. I have an exclusive deal that is a conflict to use my image, to use my likeness, and to use my name.
"I spoke to Stephan Bonnar about a year ago and I’ve had my existing contract for about two years now and I spoke to him about a year ago at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy), regarding this situation and he was understanding of the fact that there is an existing agreement with a prior apparel company with myself. He spoke with myself and my manager Bob Cook at AKA when he was filming something for SpikeTV, he was in agreement and in an understanding that they would stop producing and making the shirt. Because I was about to get sued from my preexisting exclusive deal that I’ve had signed for two-years.
"So, he was putting me in breach of this contract by producing this shirt. Now, with that being said, he was fine with that and was fine with everything after meeting at AKA and he continued to produce the shirt. He basically gave me no other choice, but to go after him legally because of the fact that I’m about to be sued from another company because of Stephan Bonnar and his antics.”
B/R: You guys were on TUF 1 together; I’ve never heard of any problems prior to this, has there ever been any over the years?
Josh Koscheck: “There’s never been an issue between me and Stephan. I explained it to him that it was a conflict of interest and he understood it and he said he was going to stop. He wouldn’t stop doing it, so he gave me no choice. I was about 30 days away from getting sued by my preexisting company, so he put me to where my back is against the wall. So, what does he expect me to do? I’m getting a lot of heat over this and guess what, they (fans) can be on Stephan Bonnar’s side and that’s fine with me. But, you don’t go to Tiger Woods and use his image on a shirt and sell it without Tiger Woods’ attorneys coming to you, Nike would be on you in two-seconds. Who’s Stephan Bonnar to benefit off of fighters and try to use somebody else’s image to build a company and make money.
"Where’s the respect? There’s no consent, he’s never given any papers on any of those fighters as far as I’m concerned and I’m sure I’m not going to be the only fighter suing him. I know there’s other shirts, such as Georges St. Pierre, Brock Lesnar, there’s other shirts so I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one suing him. He’s never got any paperwork from my attorney’s or my managers to do this shirt. He’s never contacted me and he was told not to do it, he put me in breach and I had no other choice. He put my back against the wall and I didn’t have any other reason to do this or choice and there’s never been a problem, but now he created a problem.
“Now, Stephan Bonnar is calling me out and it’s absurd, that p***y really needs to think about who he’s calling out because when he becomes a B level fighter, then I’ll take him serious. But right now, he’s not even a B level fighter so I’m not taking him serious. If he does want to fight me and run his mouth and continue to run his mouth personally, then we can settle this. I’ll fight him at 185 for the fans, because I know there’s a lot of people out there right now that this is a big deal and I’ll make that my comeback fight hopefully in October.”
B/R: With Bonnar publicly stating that he’d fight you and that he’s willing to cut weight, how much would a catchweight fight appeal to you?
Josh Koscheck: “All day long, that’d be a nice, easy comeback fight. I’d like to have a nice warmup fight and Stephan Bonnar would be that fight.”
B/R: How does a fight with Stephan Bonnar play out, because he’s naturally a light-heavyweight and you’re at 170 lbs. and would you then stay at 185 or return to welterweight?
Josh Koscheck: “I belong at 170, that’s where I want to go, but I’ve always told the media, the UFC, and everybody, I’m not afraid to fight anybody, anytime, anyplace. If I have to go up even higher, I’ll go up even higher, but this guy’s going to say he wants to fight me and he’ll cut weight.
"Well - he’s the one who said he’ll cut weight, so come on down Stephan, you’re the one who opened your mouth up. My attorneys will handle everything with the lawsuit and everything with that aspect and get it cleared up, so that I’m not at breach with my existing contract and if the UFC and the UFC fans want to rally behind us and make it a grudge match, we’ll do it. It’s probably also a publicity stunt for Stephan, because nobody knows who the hell he is and he hasn’t won any fights in a long time, so he’s probably just trying to get some media attention.”
B/R: With the success AKA has had and your teammates having upcoming fights, how frustrating has this situation been?
Josh Koscheck: “It’s kind of disappointing and disrespectful on the terms of I talked to him (Stephan Bonnar) and I had an existing agreement and he understood it. Basically, it’s a slap in my face like ‘Hey F you, I don’t really care, I don’t respect you.’ I was just trying to let him understand that it’s a breach and for me it’s just a little bit more of disrespect than a pain in the ass. Guess what? I’ve got money and I’ve been very fortunate to put myself around the right people and I’ve been very well taken care of by the Zinkin family and Zinkin Entertainment.
"So, I’m not concerned to go out there and spend a couple dollars in protecting what I’ve built over the last 7 years fighting and earning my way up the ladder. I’m not afraid to go out there and spend some money to protect my investment. Josh Koscheck is my business, when I file my taxes (it says) professional fighter, I built my empire, I built my business. I’ve worked hard to build my business, I’ve worked hard to create my image, I’ve worked hard to create everything I have in my gyms and I’ve worked hard to create a name for myself and I don’t want anyone else benefiting off of it.
"This guy’s out here selling shirts and I’ve never seen one-dollar off of it, I’ve never seen anything and he’s acting mad at me. What have I done in the situation? What have I done wrong? Going back to it, there’s always two sides to every story, there’s a side of right and a side of wrong, and I’m on the side of right.”
B/R: With your teammates Justin Wilcox and Daniel Cormier having fights coming up, how much has that helped you get back on track for your return?
Josh Koscheck: “Those guys are all great. Justin Wilcox, he lives with me and Daniel Cormier is a good friend. I was at AKA San Jose yesterday training with those guys and watching those guys train. There’s no camp like that with the training partners, it’s definitely a family and our management company Zinkin Entertainment has created a family atmosphere and brought in all the best guys.
"Dwayne Zinkin and Bob Cook brought all the best guys to San Jose AKA, if it wasn’t for Bob Cook and Dwayne Zinkin there is no AKA. I’m a really a big believer in their mentality of out recruiting guys like a Justin Wilcox, Daniel Cormier, Jon Fitch, Cain Velasquez, and Josh Koscheck. Dwayne Zinkin and Bob Cook recruited all of us, got us there, and put us all under one roof. It’s real funny that you see all these young fighters, Bob Cook and Dwayne Zinkin, when we were young and didn’t have money these guys were fronting money for us and providing a place for us to live. I was looking at a picture of me and Cain where we used to live with Bob Cook in this apartment and we had air mattresses, I’m going to twitter it someday but I just haven’t yet.
"It’s the craziest thing, if it wasn’t for Dwayne Zinkin and Bob Cook there is none of this, no Zinkin Entertainment and you wouldn’t have these young guys coming up from AKA and producing top fighters. It’s a real exciting time for AKA.”
B/R: How is recovery from the injury coming along?
Josh Koscheck: “It’s pretty good, I’m on track. I’m just trying to focus on getting in shape. I realistically want to fight in late October in Las Vegas, so that’s my target date right now.
"If it’s before that great, if it’s a little bit after that I’m fine with that. Right now, I’m trying to target October 29 as my comeback date.”
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