Koscheck, star of TUF 1 and UFC 124, relishes the role of villain
'TUF 1' helped make Josh Koscheck a personality that UFC fans love to hate
Dana White chose Koscheck to be a coach on the upcoming season of 'TUF'
After the season, Koscheck will face Georges St. Pierre in Montreal in UFC 124
Like every good villain, Josh Koscheck has an origin story. Not the whole birth, adolescence, adulthood thing. Everybody's got that. This is more about how he became the Koscheck MMA fans have learned to know and hate.
"It was the first time I went to one of the big UFC's and I was sitting close to [UFC president] Dana White, and they showed me on the big screen and the place just boos me like crazy in Vegas," Koscheck recalled in a phone interview earlier this week. "Dana came over and said, 'Congratulations, they're booing you.' I said, 'That's something to be congratulated for?' And he goes, 'If they were silent as a church mouse, then we'd have a problem.' I thought, 'Good point, Dana.' So I went with it, and here I am five or six years later and I'm still in the UFC, about to fight for a title, so I must be doing something right."
At least, that's one version of the story. Of course, it doesn't answer how he got there to begin with, or why fans knew to hate him almost as soon as they got to know him on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
To hear Koscheck tell it now, even his antics on the UFC's breakout reality show were somewhat premeditated.
"I knew that in order to make a name for myself -- because honestly, my fighting sucked and I didn't know how to fight back then, apart from just using my wrestling -- I needed to be a personality," he explained.
It's a convenient explanation, as is Koscheck's constant insistence that he couldn't care less what MMA fans think of him. Then again, both stories can't be true. Either he decided before his TUF run to act like a jerk and play the heel, or he decided when he heard the boos after the show aired.
Or, to present yet a third possibility, he never really decided, because he was never really acting.
It's hard to know for sure, since the MMA world only sees the Koscheck that he allows us to see, and that Koscheck is indeed an abrasive one. Surely he has his fans out there, if only because all fighters have at least some semblance of a cheering section, but I can't help but think they must be the kind of people who go to romantic comedies and hope with all their hearts that maybe this time the girl will choose the snotty blueblood over the affable everyman.
This is the exact quality that makes Koscheck the perfect foil for UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, who is every bit as careful with his words and image as Koscheck is reckless with his own. That's why putting the two in opposing coaching slots on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter -- and in the main event title clash that will follow at UFC 124 in December -- was a no-brainer for the UFC.
As Koscheck explained, "If you put two Georges St. Pierre's coaching against each other, with his personality, you'd have three people watching this show because it would be so boring. Georges St. Pierre needs a guy like me. He needs a guy like me to make him money. The UFC needs me. Spike TV needed me for this show. I'm the type of guy, I don't care about being the good guy of the UFC. I don't care, I'll be the villain."
It's probably going to make for great reality TV, even if it won't make for a positive image campaign for Koscheck, who said he's going to be tweeting (@JoshKoscheck) throughout each episode this season so he can interact with fans. Something tells me he won't be spending too much of that time soaking up praise from ardent followers.
But what happens when he gets in the cage with GSP again, and personality is no longer a variable that matters? The first time they fought, Koscheck got outwrestled -- a new experience for him in his MMA career. This time, he seems to be pinning his hopes on a strategy that includes baiting St. Pierre into a brawl.
"He's coming out there to work a game plan and use a strategy and be a sportsman and all that stuff he talks about," Koscheck said. "F--- that. I'm going out there to beat this guy's a-- and make it a fight. That's the difference between me and Georges: I'm going out there to kill you, he's going out there to try to outpoint me. He does not want to fight me. You can ask him this question, and I promise you Georges St. Pierre will not stand toe-to-toe with me. He doesn't have the [guts] to do that. I have to force him."
If that approach sounds familiar, it's because Koscheck isn't the first opponent of St. Pierre's to implement it. Several others have hoped that they could anger the champ into abandoning his careful, technical approach to each fight. The strategy has yet to pay off, but I guess it never hurts to try.
Whether Koscheck has chosen to play the heel, or whether that role has been forced upon him, it doesn't really matter anymore. He's in it, and he seems to be enjoying it. At least he claims he is, which is a good thing, considering he has to head into Montreal -- St. Pierre's hometown -- to challenge for the belt.
If you think that bothers him, you haven't been paying attention.
"I know there's going to be 22,000 Canadians chanting 'GSP! GSP!' for however long the fight goes," Koscheck said. "That's fine, because I know that when I get my hand raised there are going to be just that many who are utterly pissed when I walk out of there with that belt. I love that."