Josh Koscheck’s usual laid-back skate kid, beach-going style is nowhere to be found.
The welterweight’s training partner Matt Major, who stumbles to the ring floor at the American Kickboxing Academy multiple times thanks to Koscheck’s flurries. “We fight in here,” Koscheck says. “I’m fighting guys that are high level guys three days a week. I have a fifteen-minute fight every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
It sure looks like a fight. And for every resonating head shot and chop-down body punch, there’s footwork and head movement that keeps Koscheck just an inch away from Major’s punches—a reminder fights can be more aesthetically pleasing than the violent slams that drive Major to the mat.
“For this camp, it’s been 15 hard weeks. I’ve been training since February. I didn’t really take too much time off,” says Koscheck. His last Octagon appearance was in February at UFC 95 when debuting Paulo Thiago, an unknown jiu-jitsu black belt, scored a technical knockout over the explosive wrestler. A camp nearly four months long is worth the payoff explains Koscheck on his last day of hard training.
“At times it was great, at times it was like, ‘Oh man, I have eight more weeks, or six more weeks or five more weeks. But today it came together in sparring,” he says. “I’m really happy with where I’m at. If I, if the Josh Koscheck that showed up for training today shows up on Saturday, its gonna be a quick fight.”
It’s been seven months since Koscheck was in a UFC bout. It’s a far cry from the five fights in under a year he battled in prior to losing to Thiago. He wants to return to such a high work rate inside the Octagon, however, the time away allowed him to open his own gym—American Kickboxing Academy in Koscheck’s home of Fresno, Calif. He also focused on his strength and conditioning, putting the loss to rest with a “that’s life” approach.
He was following the game plan because he wasn’t going to take a black belt to the ground. It was working too. He simply got caught, probably because he was “too relaxed.”
Koscheck will be alert and ready when he faces Frank Trigg at UFC 103 in Dallas, Tex., at the American Airlines Center. “Everything I’ve done up until now when I come into the cage on Saturday and put a beat down on Frank Trigg, they’re gonna be like ‘Wow, this kid’s back,’” he says.
Koscheck began making his name in the UFC in late 2005 just as Trigg was exiting the promotion. Despite Trigg’s time away, Koscheck expects a formidable opponent, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready to smash him.
“I’m gonna come out and be fast, with the strength and conditioning that I’ve been doing over the time that I was a little injured,” he says. “I got a lot stronger. I got a lot faster. My punches are harder. My kicks are harder, my knees, everything is harder. I’m really, really excited to get in there and fight.”