Best/Worst: Josh Koscheck

It’s hard to believe that former collegiate wrestling champion Josh Koscheck had only six months of MMA training before he entered the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show. With nothing more than a strong wrestling base to fall back on – he was a remarkable 42-0 during his college career – the polarizing personality managed to make it to the semifinals before losing to the man who would go on to win the middleweight contract, Diego Sanchez. But rather than sulk, Koscheck began training like a madman and has become one of the most well rounded fighters in MMA, making extraordinary strides in his stand up game to compliment his high-level wrestling. With his welterweight tilt with powerful striker Paul Daley coming up at UFC 113 in Montreal, Quebec, we take a look at some of the AKA fighter’s best and worst moments.

Best

UFC 106: 11/21/09
Submission win over Anthony Johnson – 4:47 Rd 2

There were many who thought if Koscheck chose to stand and trade with “Rumble” that he would be savagely knocked out. But at UFC 106, Koscheck put together the perfect game plan to upend Johnson and stake his claim as the next in line for another shot at Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title.

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was a complete performance for the wrestling standout. The bout saw both fighters exchange eye pokes but the American Kickboxing Academy athlete kept his composure and weathered everything Johnson threw at him. In the second round, Koscheck and Johnson stood toe to toe before the wrestling standout finally took “Rumble” down with a double leg and went to work with a bevy of strikes. Sensing that Johnson had no answer for his ground game, Koscheck continued the assault to soften Johnson up and transitioned into an arm triangle. Johnson would escape but found the blonde haired kid from California on his back. Moments later, Johnson was tapping out to Koscheck’s rear naked choke. The fight earned Koscheck both Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night honors.

UFC Fight For The Troops: 12/10/08
KO win over Yoshiyuki Yoshida – 2:15 Rd 1

In the main event of UFC Fight For The Troops, Josh Koscheck took on Yoshiyuki Yoshida in the main event. Yoshida had won his last nine fights and looked to be a formidable opponent for “Kos.” For Koschek, he was looking to rebound from the beating he took at the hands of Thiago Alves less than two months prior.

This was perhaps Koscheck’s most devastating display of striking to date. Yoshida was aware that the AKA fighter had been working diligently on his standup and was well prepared for the looping right hand bomb. Unfortunately for Yoshida, the right hand wasn’t looping at all. With Koscheck stalking Yoshida for the first round, Yoshida did his best to steer clear of the heavy right hand. But at just under three minutes to go in the round, Koscheck shot the right hand straight down the middle and caught “Zenko” square on the chin. Nearly out on his feet, Yoshida bounced off the cage and ran right into the looping right hand that he was trying to avoid. The rest was elementary as Yoshida crumbled to the mat, completely shut off from the world. Yikes.

UFC 82: 3/1/08
TKO win over Dustin Hazelett – 1:24 Rd 2

Looking to redeem himself after his loss to Georges St. Pierre, Josh Koscheck stepped into the Octagon against submission specialist Dustin Hazelett at UFC 82. You know what usually happens when a jiujitsu practitioner and a strong wrestler face one another right? A fight that was almost exclusively standing up.

The Rich Franklin and Jorge Gurgel trained Hazelett took the fight right to Koscheck from the opening bell. No more than a minute into the fight, “McLovin” landed a left head kick that wobbled Koscheck badly and flew in with a right knee that may have taken a lesser fighter out. But “Kos” would weather the storm and begin throwing bombs at his opponent. Fans knew at that point that they were in for a treat. An ill fated takedown attempt allowed Hazelett to cinch in a tight guillotine but Koscheck would again persevere and escape. Koscheck again would take down the submission specialist and find himself trapped in a triangle as time expired in the first round.

The second round saw Koscheck abandon the takedown strategy and take the fight to Hazelett standing. Koscheck nailed Hazelett with a slapping right cross followed by a thunderous left kick to the head that dropped “McLovin” as Koscheck followed with a series of strikes to his downed opponent that led referee Herb Dean calling a halt to the fight and prove that Koscheck is just as dangerous standing as he is on the ground.

Worst

UFC 95: 2/21/09
KO loss to Paulo Thiago – 3:29 Rd 1

At UFC 95 at the O2 Arena in London, England, Josh Koscheck was fighting for the third time in four months time against the debuting jiujitsu specialist Paulo Thiago. Koscheck had just vanquished Yoshiyuki Yoshida with his much improved standup and was looking to put his kickboxing on display against Thiago. Many assumed that Thiago was looking to get the fight to the mat and was at a severe disadvantage standing with Koscheck.

Early on, Koscheck’s striking was holding a distinct advantage as he stalked Thiago and landed some menacing strikes. As Goldie and Joe Rogan were in the middle of praising Koscheck’s advances in striking while picking apart Thiago’s flaws, the Brazilian slipped to his left as “Kos” lazily tossed a jab and fired a right uppercut, left hook combination that dropped the AKA standout like a sack of bricks to the canvas.

Although it can be argued that referee Mark Goddard stopped the fight prematurely, one can easily see that Koscheck was being spared from further punishment thanks to a timely save. The fight exposed that Koschek may have improved his standup but his glass jaw might need some work.

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 2: 10/3/05
Submission loss to Drew Fickett – 4:38 Rd 3

This is the reason they say, “fight for every single moment of every single round.”

Koschek was still learning his way around the Octagon as a one dimensional fighter when he took on Drew Fickett at Ultimate Fight Night 2. Everyone knew that he was an excellent wrestler, but how would he fare against submission specialist Drew Fickett? It was supposed to be a coming out party for the American Kickboxing Academy fighter. And it was, for two and 9/10 rounds.

As predicted, Koscheck dominated the first 14 minutes of the fight using superior takedowns while maintaining top position. It looked as if Koscheck would cruise to victory as the clock ticked away in the final frame. With less than a minute to go, referee John McCarthy stood the fighters up after little to nothing happened on the ground. It would be the worst thing that could happen to Koscheck.

As the wrestling standout telegraphed a takedown attempt, Fickett fired a left knee to the temple of Koscheck that sent the dazed AKA fighter to his hands and knees. Fickett immediately pounced on the shaken Koscheck and went in for the kill. With forty seconds left, Fickett secured a tight rear naked choke. Koscheck did his best not to tap, but there was no way he could remain conscious before the final bell and was asleep before the thirty second mark hit.

UFC 90: 10/25/08
Unanimous decision loss to Thiago Alves

Taking a fight with the “Pitbull” on two week’s notice after Diego Sanchez was shelved with an injury may have not been the best decision for Koschek. But “Kos” is a fighter who will take on anyone at anytime. In hindsight, this is a fight he certainly should have passed on. UFC 90 provided the worst beating Josh Koscheck has taken to date.
Alves utilized superior striking and sprawled effectively to dominate Koscheck throughout their welterweight battle. From the outset, Koscheck was in trouble as the Brazilian made a statement early with a left hand that sent the wrestler to the canvas. Although he would recover, the tone was set for the rest of the fight as Alves shrugged off Koscheck’s takedown attempts and battered him all over the cage with an assortment of strikes and devastating leg kicks. Even though he was hurt on several occasions, Koscheck wouldn’t succumb and ended up losing a unanimous decision.

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