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Why did Josh Koscheck decide to return? 'It's been awhile since I had my hand raised'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If Josh Koscheck retired 15 months ago, no one would have blamed him.

The 11-year MMA standout may or may not be in the UFC Hall of Fame one day, but his career résumé stacks up pretty well compared to most welterweights who have competed in the sport.

Koscheck, 37, was a cast member on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, he fought Georges St-Pierre for the title, gained a solid fan following (love him or hate him) and racked up victories against several big names. "Kos" owns wins against the likes of Matt Hughes, Anthony Johnson, Diego Sanchez and Paul Daley.

There isn't much left for Koscheck to prove, but there is motivation, which is why Koscheck will return to the Octagon against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184 on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Koscheck (17-8) owns businesses and is doing fine financially, but the one thing he doesn't have is a win since February 2012.

"I think the biggest thing is it's been awhile since I had my hand raised," Koscheck told MMAFighting.com. "That's my primary goal: to go out there and get a victory. I think that's the main reason. It has nothing to do with the money I make. It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I want to get a victory."

The veteran of 23 UFC fights is not really thinking about much past the fight with Ellenberger. He's not talking about a title run, nor making any bold proclamations about his standing in the division. Koscheck has lost three in a row and is seeking an end to that skid. Regardless of the outcome, he's not sure if this will be his last fight in the UFC.

"Obviously, we're all in this thing to be champion," Koscheck said. "But I think it's a little far-fetched for me to start talking about like, 'Oh hey, I'm gonna make a run at the title. I'm coming back. This is my opportunity. I'm the best.' It's a little far-fetched for that right now. I'll just go out there and win a fight and that will determine what the future holds."

In fairness to the Pittsburgh-area native, his recent losses have come against the very elite at 170: Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks. Ellenberger (29-9) has also fallen in three straight against the upper-echelon of the loaded division. But Koscheck hasn't followed his career. Actually, he doesn't follow anyone's except for his own and the guys who train at his Dethrone Base Camp gym in Fresno, like top Bellator prospect Chris Honeycutt.

"I don't pay attention to the UFC or mixed martial arts unless I have to be there and do it," Koscheck said. "If FOX wants to give me a job, then guess what, then I have to study all the fighters. Until I'm getting paid to watch fights, I'm not going to participate as much. I have other businesses that keep me very, very busy when I'm not training or getting ready for a fight."

One thing he'll always have a desire for is the process. Koscheck never stopped training after getting knocked out by Woodley at UFC 167 in November 2013. And he probably never will.

"I will train my whole life," Koscheck said. "That's just who I am. That's just what I do. I like to be in shape, I love to feel good and be fit.

"I don't let one defining moment determine what I do in life. I still have the same passions, the same goals and the same drive."

Whether that changes after Saturday night is anyone's guess. Maybe Koscheck doesn't even know himself. Getting the win is all that's really on his mind. He'll worry about the rest later.

"I feel like this camp has helped," Koscheck said. "I feel like I grinded enough to go out there and put on a great show for myself. That's what I'm doing. This fight's not for anything other than for Josh Koscheck to go out there and get his hand raised."