When he wasn't promoting his next fight or coaching a season of the Ultimate Fighter (or competing on one, for that matter), Josh Koscheck wasn't exactly a headline grabbing member of the UFC. Not the kind of guy with a massive social media presence, much in the way of police run-ins, or a Hollywood career in the making. Just a fighter under the Zuffa banner who knew how to play the heel and win a lot of fights along the way.
Since his most recent UFC contract came due, however, Koscheck seems to have flipped a switch. The newly signed Bellator fighter has been very open about his time fighting under Zuffa, and most of what he has to say hasn't been particularly flattering. He recently spoke to Submission Radio about making the jump to Bellator and just why it was such a freeing moment for him (interview starts at 1:01:25):
"The biggest thing was the way that your hands are tied behind your back when dealing with the UFC. It's like if you just go against the grain one time, then it's like a slap on the face. You know, they just kind of yell at you and treat you like shit. And it's a lot of things too. It's like not only do you have your hands tied behind your back, in my opinion you have an eight-ball stuffed in your mouth and you really can't say anything. So it's kind of nice to be done with that pressure where you don't have somebody breathing down your back, and it just wasn't fun for me to fight for the UFC, so I figured that I need a change in my life. And after signing this last contract that I had with him, I just wanted to get out of my fights as quickly as possible so I could move on with my life and be done. And even if I never fought again after that last contract, this last fight that I had, I wasn't going to resign with them, because it's simple; you put 27 fights in, you give them 10 years of your life, you'd think that they would have stepped up to the game or stepped up to the plate and put a job offer in front of me or something to keep me involved with the UFC and the sport, but there was no talk of that. And so I decided that it was best for me to move on to Bellator anyway, because Scott Coker is so cool and I started my career on Spike TV and I would like to end it on Spike as well."
And while some fighters have talked recently about the changes in Zuffa culture, saying that it had become more corporate and fine tuned, Koscheck was pretty adamant that, at least when it came to business dealings, the UFC hasn't changed much:
"You know, it's always been the handcuffs and the eight ball. It's always been that way, so don't fool yourselves. The media is partly to blame for this because you guys don't step up and talk. You guys don't tell the truth because you'll get blackballed from the events and covering them, so that's where it starts. It starts with the media speaking up and being truthful and covering it for the fighters, because the fighters are the most important thing. So when dealing with that organization its always been like that. It's always been "oh hey, well sign this document. If else not, you're getting kicked out" you know? I mean the history is all documented. If you go back and look at the history of - for example the videogame rights [THQ's UFC: Undisputed]. You know, it was all, if we don't sign it we're done, cancelled, 'X', kicked out. You know? So it's all documented. Let's just hope at some point this lawsuit that the UFC is under, this class action lawsuit can get to where it needs to be and the fighters can all get on board with this thing and put 'em right in their place for forcing them and forcing them to sign things that they didn't want to sign."
"I mean I can remember back for example coming off the Ultimate Fighter I wanted to have my attorneys and my management look at the contract. And I remember the conversation clearly. It was me sitting in Dana White's office inside the Ultimate Fighter Gym, and he said to me "you're going to let this F'n manager screw your career up by not singing onto this agreement". And you know what I signed? I had to sign an agreement saying that I was signed with the UFC and my fight pay was five thousand for one year, five thousand and five thousand for the first year, seven thousand and seven thousand for the second year, and ten and ten for the third year. I fought Georges St. Pierre, the first time I fought him for ten thousand dollars. So I was stuck in that contract because I got forced to sign it when I wanted my attorneys and my management to look over that agreement and that contract with me. So that's the pathetic thing. And that's what I talk about having the eight ball and the hands tied behind your back. I was forced to sign that contract right in front of him and he was like "you're going to let this guy 'F' you up" and then I'm trapped in the room, and here I am this young kid that has no experience and that's why I have a manager, and I have no experience with that. But you know what, I'm not going to complain about that now because down the road I got taken care of because I did what I had to do. I freaking....I was a team player for a while because I understood how it worked after a while and I understood that hey, I'm gonna build fights and I'm gonna make myself valuable. And I went out there and I made myself valuable by winning fights and hyping fights like the Georges St. Pierre fight. So I got my due afterwards. But you know it's just things like that. And I can only imagine if that's just me, you know, how many of these other guys are being taken advantage of."
"Look at the percentages of money that goes to the fighters. It's probably like less than five or ten percent, versus them getting ninety? Ninety percent of the money. Yeah, you know these fighters need to be taken care of. For example if I never got a contract with Bellator. What was my retirement like? Do I have a 401k with the UFC? Did I have a job with the UFC after I'm done? My name wasn't Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin or Matt Hughes, you know? Or Nogueira, you know? I think I've done more for the UFC than Nogueira without a doubt. And he gets a job. So where's the discretion there? Where does it stop? Who's to determine these types of things? Them. So there has to be somebody that represents the fighters."
As far as just what Kos' retirement is like, however, the UFC vet did suggest that he's been spending time over the last couple years putting together other business interests, so that even without fighting he'll still be taken care of. And as to just when he'll be getting in the cage again? The last known timeline is to see him in back in 4oz gloves come December, but no opponent has been named at the moment. Koscheck did mention that while he isn't interested in challenging Andrey Koreshkov for the welterweight title, he wouldn't mind fighting Chris Leben at some point in the future. Of course, Leben's got a lot of other stuff on his plate right now, so I don't think fans should hold their breath on that one.