Three months away from his UFC welterweight title fight against champion Georges St-Pierre
, and the week before his debut as a coach on Season 12 of "The Ultimate Fighter," Josh Koscheck
knows he's the villain.
Koscheck, whose role as a fighter many fans love to hate began on the inaugural season of "The Ultimate Fighter," has always seemed to march to his own beat. And on Tuesday, he told Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour"
that being looked at as the bad guy doesn't matter to him.
"Being loved or hated, ya know what? It's about making money for me," Koscheck said. "So if I've got to be the bad guy to make money, then I'll be the bad guy to make money."
Though he stopped short of saying he embraces that bad guy role MMA fans often label him with, Koscheck implied at the very least he might be misunderstood.
"It's never bugged me, from day one," Koscheck said. "I know who I am as a person. I know the people around me know me. I'm not here to make friends – I'm here to make money. I have enough friends. The people around me care about me and love me, and it's the same relationship back. I'm not trying to make friends here. I'm here to make money. It's a business."I think Georges St-Pierre wants to make this a sporting event instead of a fight.
-- Josh Koscheck
Koscheck earned his shot at St-Pierre in May at UFC 113 in Montreal – St-Pierre's home turf. His unanimous decision win over Paul Daley had all kinds of drama thrown in
. Daley threw a knee toward Koscheck's head while Koscheck's knees were on the ground – an illegal strike if it landed. And though Koscheck went to the canvas, replays appeared to show the knee missing. Post-fight, Daley sucker-punched Koscheck after the bell, which earned him a swift pink slip from UFC president Dana White.
And while being interviewed after the win by Joe Rogan, Koscheck took any remote chance he had of love from the Montreal fans and plowed right over it by announcing his hometown Pittsburgh Penguins would beat the Montreal Canadiens in their Stanley Cup playoff series, and that he would soon beat St-Pierre. On his way out of the arena, he found himself under fire from the fans. "I got beer thrown on me, popcorn – it was awesome," Koscheck said.
At the time, Koscheck had no idea that when he got his second shot at St-Pierre (he lost a unanimous decision to him at UFC 74 in August 2007), he would have to do it back in Montreal. UFC 124 will take place at the Bell Centre on Dec. 11, as was first reported by MMA Fighting
But Koscheck said the location doesn't matter to him.
"I honestly don't care where we fight, really," Koscheck said. "I'll fight wherever. So it looks like I'm going back to Montreal. Me and Montreal – the fans there – have a wonderful relationship. And I'm excited about the opportunity to become the next welterweight champion. ... I'm gonna have fun with it regardless, whether it was in Pittsburgh, Vegas or Montreal. I don't really care."
Koscheck declined to go into many details about his coaching stint on "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite St-Pierre, which debuts Wednesday on Spike TV following UFC Fight Night 22, saying simply that "it was a good experience" and fans would have to watch the show to see any interaction between him and St-Pierre.
But he was much less restrained about the recent controversy involving comments referee Yves Lavigne allegedly made about Koscheck's chances against St-Pierre in a story at Canoe.com. Though Lavigne, later on The MMA Hour, denied ever giving an interview to the site, and the story has been removed, Koscheck was adamant that he will never fight in a contest officiated by Lavigne.
"He's denied doing the interview – he's never denied saying the comments," Koscheck said. "Whether it was on the record or off the record, a referee should never state his opinion about a fighter publicly. Yves Lavigne can suck my (expletive). He'll never ref me again just because of the fact that ... his opinion could affect my livelihood and that's not fair. It's not right. People are out there saying, 'Josh Koscheck is trying to get Yves Lavigne fired.' No, Yves Lavigne got himself fired by opening his mouth up if that's the case."Lavigne told Helwani later
on the show: "I did not give him an interview on or off record. Those are not my quotes."
But as Lavigne also said, "the damage has been done." And Koscheck went on to say he believes Lavigne should be out of the officiating business.
"Yves Lavigne, whether he said it or not, I'm not taking that kind of risk with my career to have some guy that could have said those types of things about me (officiating my fight)," Koscheck said. "So I'll stick to the good refs: Josh Rosenthal, Herb Dean – those two guys can ref my fights any day of the week. ... (Lavigne) shouldn't be allowed to ref anything. You would never see a professional sport such as the NFL or NBA (have) an official say something like that and basically still keep their jobs."
As for his next task at hand, the title shot against St-Pierre, Koscheck said he expects a different fight from their first meeting.
"I think this fight will be different because of the fact I've matured and grown as a fighter," Koscheck said. "I think Georges St-Pierre wants to make this a sporting event instead of a fight. I know he's going to try to take me down and lay on me. So I've got to be really focused on everything, to be realistic. Georges is a complete fighter. He definitely has standup ability. But I think he has some weaknesses."(Ed. note: Watch last week's episode of The MMA Hour below.)