What do you do when you're one of the top fighters at your weight class, but you've already dropped two bouts to the champion, each more decisive than the last?
It's an uncomfortable limbo that Josh Koscheck found himself in after breaking his orbital bone in a losing effort against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 124. For Koscheck, the knowledge of knowing he probably wouldn't be getting a third shot as long as St. Pierre held the belt was enough to spur on some major changes.
"I figured what the hell, why not take some challenges and step up to middleweight," Koscheck reflectively admitted on Thursday afternoon's UFC on FOX 3 conference call.
"There was just nobody out there for me to fight at the time," Koscheck explained. "And nobody in the (middleweight) division was stepping up to fight me, saying ‘oh I want to fight Kos.'"
But much has changed since that time, and St. Pierre's debilitating knee injury coincided with an influx of new talent storming up the welterweight ranks. Almost overnight, Koscheck has become an elder statesman, and the usual suspects have begun falling off one by one, replaced by a new guard of athletic young guns who grew up watching the antics of the brash, blonde wrestler on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
The dramatic role reversal, along with a bittersweet move from AKA to his own gym, Dethrone, has reinvigorated Koscheck's desire to climb back up the 170-pound standings.
"Right now, there's a lot of good young fighters in the welterweight division that definitely intrigue me to get fights with," the 34-year-old Koscheck said. "Obviously there's two champions in this division, so hopefully that pans out and gets the division back into the right direction."
If Koscheck's role is now to help suppress this new generation, it all starts with Johny Hendricks, a two-time NCAA champion who recently stunned the MMA world by flooring Jon Fitch in twelve seconds at UFC 141. As Fitch is one of Koscheck's closest friends, a simmering revenge factor will inevitably play into their UFC on FOX 3 scrap.
However, with the outside possibility of a champion not named Georges St. Pierre soon ruling the division, right now there are more important things on Koscheck's mind.
"There's a lot riding on this fight," he concluded. "I think for both of us it's, the winner goes on to a nice path towards the title shot and the loser goes, who knows. So there's a lot at stake for this fight and I feel like I'm ready to roll."