(Kos, rockin’ the “Skullburst Burnout.”)
Josh Koscheck has been one of the UFC’s most prominent figures since the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he beat Chris Leben but was defeated by the show’s eventual middleweight winner, Diego Sanchez. After leaving the show, he became a mainstay in the UFC’s welterweight division, using his background as a Division I college wrestling champion to knock off guys like Dave Menne, Jonathan Goulet, and Sanchez in a hotly anticipated rematch. Though he seemed like an imminent contender for the 170-pound belt, a frustrating decision loss against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 74 sent him to the back of the line. On Saturday he continues his quest for re-ascension, taking on TUF 4 finalist Chris Lytle. We caught up to Josh after one of his final training sessions in preparation for UFC 86, and shot the shit about fighter pay, “The Nightmare,” and his secret life as a t-shirt mogul.
CagePotato.com: Not to take anything away from Chris Lytle, but he has a losing record in the UFC. Do you feel like you should be fighting a higher-ranked welterweight at this point?
Josh Koscheck: No. After my loss to Georges St. Pierre I have to work my way back up through the ranks. In order to be the #1 contender you have to beat whoever they put in front of you, and that’s my plan.
What part of Lytle’s game are you most concerned about?
I don’t really know too much about him, I just know he’s pretty good on his feet and he’s got pretty good jiu-jitsu. My concerns are myself — coming in prepared, which I definitely am, and taking the opportunity to get the job done.
This is the first fight on your new UFC contract extension. Would you say you’re getting paid what you deserve now?
I don’t know that answer; that’s up to my managers. My job is to train and fight. My managers got me the contract so I guess that’s what I deserve right now. Obviously, it’s human nature to want more money. You probably want more money to interview me today. But it’s just a matter of time. Yeah, UFC fighters deserve a lot more money, and it’s coming. The sport’s growing, and as the UFC brand grows, the fighters will make more money.
Do you have any interest in fighting Diego Sanchez again? Your last fight with him was called into question because he was supposedly suffering from a staph infection at the time. Do you feel the need to prove it was a legitimate win?
I’ve fought with staph infections before too. I beat up Jonathan Goulet while I had a huge staph infection in my leg — I never told anybody because that’s a fucking excuse. [Sanchez] should stop making excuses, and a win is a win. If his staph infection was so bad, he shouldn’t have stepped into the Octagon. People fight with injuries all the time; the bottom line is, don’t make excuses for losing. I’m just focused on winning this fight against Lytle. I don’t care too much about Diego Sanchez or anyone else in the weight class right now.
What do you like to do when you’re not training?
Pretty much when I’m not training I’m working on my clothing company, Mar Clothing. I’m trying to build something for when I’m done fighting, and so I can give back to up-and-coming fighters in the future through sponsorship, and help them make a living.
Do you create the designs yourself?
I have an artist who I get together with every couple of weeks to brainstorm ideas, and he comes up with designs. I have a whole new line coming out in August, and it’s gonna be rockin’. We’re looking to expand into a lot of the retail market.
I think I saw one of the fighters on the last Strikeforce show wearing a Mar shirt. Are you currently sponsoring anybody?
I sponsor Fitch, Swick, all those guys — they actually have shirts on the website as well. The plan is get as many fighters onboard as I can. I’m not trying to make money off of them — I want them to make money. So basically I cover the costs to make the shirts and the rest of the money goes to them. And that’s what it’s about, helping those guys create identity for themselves, and giving their fans the opportunity to buy a custom shirt. It’s a fun business. My main job is fighting, but you gotta have hobbies too, and this is one of my hobbies.
How are you going to celebrate after you beat Lytle on Saturday?
I’m sure we’ll be partying somewhere, but I haven’t looked that far ahead yet. Plus, I don’t drink — I gave that up a year-and-a-half ago — so you’ll probably find me playing blackjack at the Palms.