It came as a bit of a surprise to the MMA world when TUF 1 alum and former welterweight number one contender Josh Koscheck announced that he would be departing from long time training camp American Kickboxing Academy in the wake of his narrow split decision win over Mike Pierce at UFC 143. A member of the gym since 2006, Koscheck had widely credited the facility for the improved striking he displayed in his devastating knockout wins over Dustin Hazelett, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and Frank Trigg. The tight unity between AKA members became a well known facet of the gym, so much so that training partners often refused to fight one another no matter what the repercussions, or benefits for that matter, would be as a result.
And though Koscheck still holds to the claim that he would rather retire than fight former training partner John Fitch, he has taken a 180 in terms of giving his former gym its due credit. If we didn’t know any better, it almost seems as if Koscheck is, dare we say, a little bitter about the whole thing. When asked about the situation by Ariel Helwani, and specifically his feelings towards AKA head trainer Javier Mendez, here’s what he had to say:
For the record, he was never my coach. He tagged along here and there, but I think I’m in a better place now…I think Bob Cook will always be the man over there…it’s good to be around real coaches that care and real coaches that put time in and real coaches that will put the effort to make your fighter the best, and I have that now.
Of course [Javier] worked with me, but did I learn anything? Meh. It is what it is. I’m done with that chapter of my life and I prefer not to talk about it. I prefer to talk about Dethrone Base Camp in Fresno. That’s where it’s happening right now.
Whether you love or hate Koscheck, you’ve gotta appreciate the guy’s honesty and openness when it comes sharing his opinion on personal issues. Always the pot stirrer, Helwani pressed on when discussing Koscheck’s strained relationship with AKA, even going as far as to ask him whether he felt he would have been champion by now had he left the San Jose based gym years ago. Koscheck didn’t exactly answer the question outright, but rather stated that he truly believes it is the training partners, not the coaches, that are the reason behind the gym’s success:
…guys that have been UFC champions, like Cain, [are] because of the training partners, and I think that that’s the number one reason. And I think that if you add coaching, real coaching, I think that you would have seen a lot more champions out of that gym. And now in my career, I think we’re going to see improvements really quick.
Perhaps the hardest thing about hearing these kinds of claims from Koscheck is the fact that they may actually hold some weight for once. There’s no denying that Koscheck’s striking attack has looked a little stale as of late; the fact that Matt Hughes managed to get the better of him (until getting KO’d of course) only supports this idea. And not to bash Jon Fitch, but the fact that he’s been training at AKA for nearly ten years now, but has seemingly reached a plateau in terms of his offensive output, or is at least unwilling to show any versatility he may have picked up, makes Koscheck’s remarks seem somewhat grounded.
As for his former AKA teammates, Kos believes that “if they’re smart,” then they’ll come train with him at his new gym in Fresno. “The door’s always open,” Koscheck stated, because “I’d prefer to never step foot in the city of San Jose again, unless I open one of my Dethrone Base Camp gyms there.”
After putting the whole AKA debacle aside, Koscheck discussed his upcoming UFC on Fox 3 bout with Johny Hendricks. “Bigg Rigg” most recently starched Fitch in twelve seconds at UFC 141, a victory that Koscheck claimed to be a result of a “lucky punch.” You know, kind of like the one Paulo Thiago pulled on him at UFC 95.
Now that we look at them side by side, we can definitely see some similarities.
According to Kos, Hendricks has stated that he plans to stand and trade with him and “have a good fight.” Obviously, Josh thinks that Hendricks is “full of shit” for having the audacity to make such a claim, and “plans to prove it come May 5th.”
So who you guys got for this one?