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Koscheck relishes role of UFC bad boy as he prepares for GSP

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The Canadian Press
5/19/2010 5:49:32 PM
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Polite and respectful, Georges St-Pierre is the type of mixed martial arts fighter you'd bring home to mother. Josh Koscheck, not so much.

But there's far more to Koscheck than a bad boy image, which the 32-year-old from Fresno, Calif., admits to carefully cultivating.

After manhandling English welterweight Paul (Semtex) Daley at UFC 113 recently to earn a shot at St-Pierre's title, Koscheck gleefully antagonized the Bell Centre crowd in Montreal by (incorrectly) picking the Pittsburgh Penguins to beat the Canadiens and then promising to take care of another hometown hero by dethroning GSP.

"Koscheck's so good at being a [expletive], he doesn't have to practice," UFC president Dana White, wearing a big smile, said at the post-fight news conference.

From the moment he turned a hose on a distraught Chris Leben in Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show, Koscheck has worn the black hat in the UFC. He is booed wherever he goes.

It's all part of the act.

"In the entertainment business whether it's fighting, whether it's movies, whether it's anything, you have to have a way to get people to remember you," Koscheck explained. "And that's one of the things that through my career I've really done a good job with. . . . I sit down, I brainstorm all the time about what do I have to say, what have I got to do to make myself stand out from everybody else? So everybody knows the name Josh Koscheck.

"The funny thing is yeah I play the villain, but if you came and hung out with me for the day, and we got on the boat and we went fishing or just hung out about my house and just kind of chilled, you would see a different side to me."

An avid angler, Koscheck likes to disappear and go fly-fishing after a fight. Or work on his clothing company (www.marclothing.com).

And in recent weeks, the UFC's bad boy has even looked to send out motivational tweets to his fans.

"I have learned alot about myself & life this past yr &1 thing i have learned through my Experience is ur only as good as ur WORD!," offers one such tweet.

"Sometimes Life can beat u down! But let's gooooooooooooo tomorrow is a new day! Get it done. If u want something fight for it! Gnighta," says another.

Koscheck credits a friend, Benji Madden of the band Good Charlotte, for inspiring him on Twitter.

"Just a very motivational person. One of the things from hanging out with him that I have learned over the past year is having the opportunity to touch people's lives. If they're going to follow me (on Twitter), that means that they obviously care about me so I might as well help them and send out positive vibes."

After defeating Daley, Koscheck has a chance to influence a new crop on "The Ultimate Fighter," with St-Pierre as his rival coach.

While honoured to have graduated from alumnus to coach on the show, Koscheck acknowledges the new role will be a change. When he is training for a fight, he usually only thinks about himself.

"That's where I do best, when I have mindless training and I don't have to think about training, I don't have to think about when my workouts are. I get up in the morning and the coaches are there and they tell me exactly what, when, where and how I'm doing it."

Some past coaches have used the show to play mental games. One would think Koscheck would have a huge trash-talking edge, given his experience at it and St-Pierre's unwillingness to trade insults in his second language. But Koscheck says he is not looking to be the sandpaper on the show.

"I don't think I need to get in Georges St-Pierre's head. He knows what kind of fighter I've improved (to). . . . I'm going to have my wrestling so good that I'm going to force Georges St-Pierre into standing toe to toe with me and then I'm going to end up knocking him out, because I believe that Georges doesn't have knockout power and I do."

In the days since the Montreal win, Koscheck has been savouring some down time. He spent 12 weeks in San Jose preparing for Daley at the American Kickboxing Academy.

While Koscheck dominated the brash Brit, he was not satisfied with the performance.

"Yes, I fought a great conservative, smart fight. But I believe I could have finished Paul Daley. I should have finished Paul Daley."

He points to a roller-coaster training camp.

"You couldn't even imagine the things I went through to get to this fight," he said. "Some day if I do a book, it will all be in there, I can guarantee you that. This was a tough one."

"At one point my managers and coaches almost pulled me from the fight but I didn't let them," he added. "I said 'No, I'm going to make it through this and I'm going to keep fighting.' I dealt with a lot of personal issues, injuries. It was by far probably one of the worst training camps I've ever had in my entire life."

Asked to elaborate, Koscheck said: "I had tons of personal issues and I had several injuries going into this fight. But I still showed up and I tried to perform and put on the best show that I possibly could."

Koscheck (17-4) credited coach Bob Cook, manager DeWayne Zinkin and the rest of his support group for helping him make it through,.

"A lot of things can happen in life, certain circumstances that you've got to fight through. I'm thankful to God that I made it through this 12-week training camp because it was probably by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life."

Koscheck pronounces himself "100 per cent better" these days.

"I'm on my way to becoming a champion and that's what I've been working for my whole career."

Still he put off plans to return to the gym at the start of the week, deciding instead to take the next two weeks off.

Koscheck expects filming on the show to start in June with the GSP fight at the end of the year.

The two met in August 2007, with St-Pierre outwrestling the former four-time NCAA all-American en route to a unanimous decision at UFC 74.

"I kind of just overlooked he was a good athlete and had the ability to learn wrestling so quick," Koscheck said. "I believe that I was young, naive and a little immature. I think now I'm wiser, older and a lot smarter when it comes to preparing and putting a game plan together."

The glib facade put aside, Koscheck admits he remains a work in progress.

"I strive every day to become a better person. I strive every day to become a better fighter," he said. "And I'm truly blessed with the opportunity that I have to become the coach on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and a chance to beat Georges St-Pierre."

Josh Koscheck (Photo: UFC)

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(Photo: UFC)
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