When Josh Koscheck mentioned back in July that he was interested in taking at least one fight at 185, speculation ran rampant about who the American Kickboxing Academy fighter wanted to face. We reported that there were early discussions with the UFC and Chris Leben‘s camp for the two The Ultimate Fighter nemeses to square off at UFC 138 in San Jose, but the fight never materialized for various reasons and now Koscheck is slated to face former UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes at UFC 135 on September 24 as a last-minute replacement for Diego Sanchez.
According to Kos, he asked for either Leben, Rich Franklin or Wanderlei Silva for his first bout back since losing to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 124. A broken orbital bone he suffered in the opening minutes of the bout required surgery and left him sidelined for the better part of the past year. The reason for the jump back up to middleweight — the class he competed in on The Ultimate Fighter — he says was because anyone of relevance in his own weight class was already tied up.
“You probably saw that I was considering going to middleweight, and the reason I wanted to fight at middleweight was everyone at 170 pounds who meant anything was already locked up with a fight.To be honest, and mentioning no names, the people the UFC wanted me to fight just didn’t interest me at all. The names they offered me were just “paydays” — fights to get on a card and have a fight, take a shower get a payday and go home and I don’t want to fight those guys,” Koscheck explained on his first TUF 14 blog for Sportsnet.ca. “After the GSP fight, I needed to come back and remind everyone what I am all about and if I couldn’t do that at 170 pounds I figured maybe as a one-off just to have a major fight to come back with, I’d take a fight at 185 pounds. Realistically, I asked to fight Wanderlei Silva, Chris Leben and even Rich Franklin at 185.”
As far as Hughes, whose relevance in the welterweight division is questionable, Koscheck says he wanted to fight him for a while, but “Country Breakfast” has been ducking him for a while.
“But then last week I got word Matt Hughes, who has avoided me for years, needed an opponent for UFC 135 in Denver on Sept. 24. I’ve called out Hughes for so long but he’s always avoided me. When he was on top and one of the top in the division, he used his position to avoid fighting me and all the AKA guys,” Koscheck explained. “But when Diego Sanchez pulled out hurt with three weeks to go, I knew the UFC would have no choice but to try to talk Hughes into fighting me. Like I knew he would, he tried to suggest fighting Jon Fitch instead, knowing full well Fitch is still recovering from shoulder surgery. I tweeted that I’d accepted the fight and was ready, just to put pressure on Hughes to quit bitching and take the fight. I wanted to make it so that if he did turn the fight down, all the fans would know that he bitched out. He had nowhere else to go and I’ve finally got my fight with Matt Hughes.”