Josh Koscheck: 'I control my own destiny'

At 35, Josh Koscheck says he has a lot of fights left entering Saturday's bout with Tyron Woodley. Ed Mulholland for ESPN

Red flags, fair or not, surround Josh Koscheck entering Saturday's UFC 167 card.

He's 35. Plenty of athletes fight past 35, but let's face it: This is, for the most part, a young man's sport. The average age of the current UFC champions, which is presumably something Koscheck still aspires to be, is 28.

Koscheck has lost his last two fights. If you get into how he lost and whom he lost to, it's not the end of the world, but (again) let's face it: Often in this sport, details don't matter. If you're 0-2 in your last two fights, than you're 0-2 in your last two fights.

He withdrew from fights due to health reasons in 2012 and '13. He has already had two shots at the UFC welterweight title. His fight purses are relatively high, while expectations for his performances are potentially on the decline.

When you have all that going on, people are going to talk. In a recent Twitter post of Koscheck innocently holding a bass he had just caught while fishing, some fan responses basically amounted to, "Retire. You're no good anymore."

As Koscheck (17-7) prepares for his 23rd UFC appearance against Tyron Woodley on Saturday, which will move him into a tie with Chuck Liddell for the fourth-most UFC appearances in history, he discussed where he's at in his career.

When you get to Las Vegas, you'll be asked about two-fight losing streaks, motivation and possibly retirement -- are you prepared for those questions? Are they fair?

I'm sure they are fair questions. You've got to look at it though, my one loss was to Johny Hendricks, a questionable loss, and he's fighting for the title. Then I made a mistake and paid the price. With Robbie Lawler, you can't make mistakes. Those are all, I guess what you would call, the right questions to ask a guy like me at 35, but I believe I'm in my prime. I believe I have a lot of fights left and I'm not concerned with what anyone says because I know I've put the work in for this fight.

This is your 23rd official fight, in the UFC. You've been through training camps, media obligations and fight weeks. What stands out to you about this one? What's on your mind heading into this fight?

Everything is the same for me, although I finally got my camp settled down in Fresno. That took some time to get adjusted. Getting training partners and coaches -- that type of thing took some time. Johny [Hendricks] was my first fight away from AKA. Realistically, I didn't have one single training partner. It was just me in the gym. I had like Bob Cook and my manager with me once a week. I'm not making excuses because I was in shape for that fight, but I think I jumped the gun and took that fight too early.

Being in shape has never been an issue for you throughout your career, even in tough fights where there was seemingly little to gain. Why has that always come naturally to you?

I've always been a guy who is never afraid from working hard. My whole life, from the days of working with my grandfather in the hay fields to cutting firewood when I was 4 years old, rolling logs and helping stack. I'm a professional and I have to prepare like a professional. I believe I'm one of the hardest workers in the UFC. That's part of my pride, to know I've worked my ass off to get here and enjoy this.

Even if you're not planning on retiring soon, does it cross your mind? Do you think about how you want to leave this sport?

Absolutely. Every fighter out there thinks about stuff like that. If they say they don't, they’re full of s---. It's part of our game. I don't know how many fights I have left. It could be one or two, it could be 10. As of right now, I'm focused on one fight and that is to whoop Tyron's ass.

Win or lose, do you feel comfortable with your standing with the UFC?

I feel I have a good relationship with the UFC. I've been around a long time. At some point, it all comes to an end for everybody in this sport. I've been blessed in that I have a lot of businesses outside of the UFC. I'm not concerned about losing a job. But right now, that's why I train so hard and dedicate myself -- to potentially put a stop to that. I control my own destiny.

You've had to pull out of fights now in back-to-back years. Was that just bad luck or are the miles of a long fight career starting to add up on your body?

It's not the fighting that's the hard part. I could get in a fight every day and be fine. It's the training. I'm never going to retire from fighting. I'm going to retire from training. I had a bulging disk in my lower back [last year] and then a broken right hand when I was supposed to fight Demian Maia. I trained on it. I tried to push it. I had injections on it to eliminate pain but I had to pull out. Every time I threw my right hand it hurt. Everything is healthy right now and I'm blessed to be as healthy as I am right now.