Jonathan Snowden wrote a piece on the decline of Josh Koscheck yesterday. While there are certain parts that I can agree with, there's also certain parts that I can't agree with. Let's take a look:
Instead of the most dominant welterweight in the UFC, Koscheck has become an average kickboxer. It’s like Barry Bonds deciding to become a singles hitter, or Peyton Manning taking on the challenge to see if he can play tight end-just to see if he can. Look at Koscheck’s fight with Brazilian Paulo Thiago last Saturday in London. He never even considered a takedown, insisting on throwing a succession of loopy punches, each one a swing for the fences. And the reason why was right there in the commentary: Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg were incredibly positive about Koscheck’s approach, believing that his decision to eschew wrestling in his training was a positive development. It wasn’t and it isn’t. It’s time for Josh to make some hard decisions to rescue his career, before he becomes just another fighter. Here’s three ways he can start.
Why would he consider taking Paulo Thiago down? Thiago's a BJJ blackbelt with over 60% of his wins coming via submission. Could he have faked a shot or two to set up his punches better? Perhaps, but the fact of the matter is Koscheck was having his way with Thiago on the feet. Thiago's stand up looked rudimentary at best. I have no doubts Koscheck implemented the right game plan to fight Thiago. However, what he could have done is watch some video tape of Thiago beforehand. I'm pretty sure I recall Koscheck stating that he doesn't watch tapes of any of his opponents fights.
Step One: Train wrestling. Everyday. Hard. It’s smart to learn how to strike and defend strikes. It’s smart to learn how to apply and defend submissions. But, at the end of the day, whether the fans like it or not, wrestling is your bread and butter. It’s what brought you to the dance. Use it. Your hands aren’t going to make you a world champion. You’ll be an average fighter, winning some and losing some, just one of the guys in your division. Wrestling gives you the opportunity to be great-just look at Hughes, Fedor, Couture, and a host of others. The best fighters with your skillset use striking to set up their ground and pound attacks. You should be doing the same.
While wrestling is his bread and butter, I don't think it's necessary for him to train wrestling everyday. The guy has been wrestling his entire life and is light years ahead of most welterweights in the world in that department. Also, the times are different now than compared to when Hughes was dominating the division. All you have to do is look at his past two performances. You need a lot more than wrestling nowadays. You also forget how fickle MMA fans are. If he had taken Thiago down and gotten submitted, then we'd all be here talking about how stupid it was to take him down.
Step Two: Stop fighting so frequently. We’ve seen, over the course of the sport’s 15 year existence, that frequent fights are never a good thing for a championship level fighter. The fights, and more importantly the training, leave you exhausted and unable to heal properly. The long term costs are staggering-look at the precipitous decline of Kazushi Sakuraba for one example. You have fought three times in four months. It’s time for a break.
While I do agree with this statement somewhat in terms of letting your injuries heal. Let's look at this another way. Why not fight as often as you can? It accomplishes a couple of things:
- The fighter makes more money
- The fighter can move up the ladder of a division much quicker this way.
Kazushi Sakuraba's problem wasn't fighting too often. His problem was being matched up against guys twice his size for the majority of his career. I think more fighters should follow Koscheck's lead in wanting to fight more often. I think it's retarded that some championship belts only get defended once or twice a year.
Step Three: Be responsible. The post fight display after the fight in London was uncalled for and dangerous for the sport. You were knocked cold. You were out and the referee was right to stop the fight. Encouraging officials not to stop fights when a fighter has suffered a concussive blow is dangerous. It’s the blows after a devastating brain injury that are the most traumatic. Allowing the fight to continue after one of the fighters is impaired is how deaths happen. Let’s be responsible, as fighters, fans, or media, and keep our priorities in check. Safety first.
I agree that all fighters should be responsible for sure. However, you can't blame a guy for wanting to win. I think the ref was right for stopping the fight when he did, but Koscheck has been fighting long enough to plead his case in this situation as well. If this situation presents itself again, a competent referee could watch this fight and get a gauge for how fast Koscheck recovers. That's really the only point Koscheck was trying to make. It's not like he was going to win the argument and have them start the fight again. Also, Koscheck was up and walking about while speaking coherently pretty quickly after he was knocked out. Therefore, I think the talk of death is a little premature in this instance.
Josh Koscheck was on a mission in 2008, fighting 4 times while accumulating a 3-1 record. The lone loss was a decision loss to the current #2 welterweight in the world Thiago Alves. A fight that Koscheck took on 2 weeks notice and was still relatively competitive. He was dominating in the Thiago fight up until the point he got hit on the button. Koscheck is still a top 5 welterweight, and still very relevant in the welterweight division.