The biggest bombshell Josh Koscheck dropped on Saturday night wasn’t during his fight with Mike Pierce at UFC 143 where he eeked out a somewhat controversial decision win, but rather at the post-fight press conference when he announced that he had split from his long time training camp American Kickboxing Academy.
Koscheck had become synonymous with AKA over the years along with his fellow training partners like Jon Fitch, Mike Swick and Cain Velasquez who had formed a tight-knit team who vowed never to fight each other despite pressures to do so from UFC president Dana White.
So what caused Koscheck to finally turn his back on the camp that had helped him develop from a wet-behind-the-ears TUF contestant to a two-time title challenger in the UFC’s welterweight division?
According to the 34 year-old the real problem was not with his team-mates, but rather the founder of AKA, Javier Mendez.
“There’s one reason I’m leaving San Jose AKA and that’s because of Javier Mendez,” Koscheck tells MMAWeekly. “He’s the only reason I’m leaving that gym. It almost hurts me because I love training with those guys, I love training with (Jon) Fitch, and (Mike) Swick and Cain (Velasquez) and (Daniel) Cormier, and (Justin) Wilcox and all those guys, they are my brothers, and it hurts me to have to make this decision for me because the fact that it’s like splitting up the family.”
Koscheck goes on to claim that he had noticed that Mendez had a habit of blaming his fighters for not sticking to his gameplans when they lost rather than sharing the responsibility for their defeats, and that’s something that doesn’t sit comfortably with the veteran fighter.
“I’ve lost a lot of respect for Javier Mendez as a coach, as a person, because if you go back and listen to the history of the interviews of him after AKA guys have lost, the interviews he does, go back and look at the Cain Velasquez (fight), go back and look at the Josh Koscheck (fight), the other guys on that team, and see if you can find interviews where he refers to ‘Oh I did my job’ to make himself look good and they didn’t do theirs. That’s not a coach.”
So, from the sounds of things this is going to be a messy split, but Koscheck insists that he will still be in close contact with his friends at the gym.
Describing the AKA fighters as “my brothers”, Koscheck says, “I’m still going to train with them, but I will never step foot in AKA in San Jose again.”
He will also stick with two of the men who have helped guide his career during the AKA years.
“Bob Cook will still be in my corner and coaching me, he’ll come here a couple days a week and train with me, Dave Camarillo will come here a couple days, and I think I’m going to be better off.”
The first thought that’ll likely cross through many people’s minds upon first hearing this news is that perhaps it will at last open the door to a fight between Koscheck and Fitch, but Koscheck himself instantly shoots down that idea.
“That ain’t ever going to happen. I’ll move up a weight class or I’ll just quit.”
Overall, it’s an unfortunate turn of events, but putting the drama of it all to one side this might actually be a good thing for the outspoken fighter. He looked jaded on Saturday night in the Octagon, and after coming up short twice in his fights with Georges St.Pierre for the welterweight title it’s clear that he still needs to develop further if he wants to take his career to the next level.
Breaking away from the old routine may just prove to be the kickstart he needs to develop further as a fighter.