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After ten years, Josh Koscheck has left his mark on the UFC

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In some ways, Josh Koscheck is an heirloom from some previous civilization in MMA. As in, the first documented civilization. Before the original Ultimate Fighter began airing nearly ten years ago on Spike TV, mixed martial artists were broadly considered to be these savage figures who’d showed up at the church to denote the End Times. Koscheck was one of the guys from the first season who turned out to be a human being.

Of course, he was a particularly annoying one. And he’s been annoying to varying degrees since he prodded poor Chris Leben into busting down a door (and shaving off a knuckle) in the original mansion in 2005. Yet through 25 UFC fights over the last decade, it’s always been a pretty tolerable, brotherly kind of annoying. Sometimes, like when he and Diego Sanchez had their flare up at UFC 69 in Houston, you just wanted to noogie his perodixed head and say, "now go play."

Other times, like when he frustrated Paul Daley into throwing what turned out to be "the punch to exile" after the bell in Montreal at UFC 113, it was, "Jesus, that Koscheck can get under some skin!"

Even if he’s not admitting it, seeing Koscheck get his ass handed to him twice in three weeks in the advanced year of 2015 stings a bit. All the boos he’s been accustomed to have slowly been converted into groans. This time it was Erick Silva who got him down in Brazil. It was a short notice fight that Koscheck took after losing listlessly to Jake Ellenberger just three weeks ago at UFC 184. Because of the way things played out with Ellenberger, the Silva match-up never generated anything beyond a sense of foreboding. That’s not a feeling that translates well into the hype game.

Dana White said after UFC Fight Night 62 that "Kos" should retire. Koscheck, who is 37 years old and prides himself as a free thinker, wants to get back to Fresno, tend his many offshoot businesses, and mull over his future. Really, this thing could go either way.

If this is the last time Koscheck takes off his shoes to enter a cage, it’s been a pretty memorable career, even with the five-fight losing streak at the end. He fought Georges St-Pierre twice, and once for the belt after coaching opposite him on TUF 12. Yes he lost those fights, and suffered an orbital fracture in the last one, but that was a long way to go from donning a singlet at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Koscheck choked out Anthony Johnson (!), who fights for the light heavyweight title in May. He retired Matt Hughes.

And he steadily shaped a striking game from the raw materials of a wrestler. At UFC 82, he knocked out Dustin Hazelett with a display. Same thing against Yoshiyuki Yoshida, which was one of the more memorable knockouts of 2008. If anything, he fell in love with striking to the point he put it ahead of his roots. Paulo Thiago gave him a dose of that reality at UFC 95. He owns the most cage time in UFC history, clocking in over four hours.

Personally, I always liked Koscheck because he prided himself on being a special brand of prick (the kind who could really care less). He was in Paul Daley’s in the last minute of that fight, which prompted the punch after the bell, remember? He had Dan Hardy cutting promos to fight him at one point, even going so far as to call Koscheck unflushable -- a piece of fecal matter that kept swirling back up. He was new money, a flaunter. He drove a Ferrari F430 Spider coupé, and opened a 6,000-square foot gym in Fresno after helping put the American Kickboxing Academy on the map with TUF 1 alum Mike Swick and Jon Fitch. He didn’t apologize for any of his actions. He was more apt to smirk or cackle.

Koscheck has always been one of those characters. And it’s hard watching the game pass him by, even if he did give Silva all he could muster.

"I came to fight and it didn’t go my way," he said after the loss to Silva on Saturday night in Rio. "I just got to reevaluate my career, everything that I have done and where I am at this point of my career and figure it out what I am going to do. I have always told Dana that I always want to fight for him, anytime, any place. I did it again. We will go home, reevaluate life and see what’s next."

The fight game can be cruel when it’s done with you. Forrest Griffin’s body gave out. Kenny Florian couldn’t get over the final hurdle of becoming a champion, and fittingly called Koscheck’s fight on Saturday night in a suit. People have moved on. Chris Leben, Koscheck’s old nemesis, fought a single round with Uriah Hall at UFC 168 before promptly retiring on his stool before the second. That was how he ended his career. Koscheck has lost five in a row.

Ten years after being part of that first civilization on TUF, the writing is on the wall.

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