Bout between buds Kos, Fitch makes sense
September, 28, 2011
By Chuck Mindenhall
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesPicture this: If Josh Koscheck really wants in on UFC 139, he might have to fight his buddy to do it.The most compelling thing to come out of Tuesday’s UFC 139 conference call was a hypothetical that had nothing to do with the actual UFC 139 conference call. Somebody asked Dana White if Josh Koscheck would be on the Nov. 19 card, seeing as much Kos covets a chance to fight in his hometown of San Jose, Calif. White, without too much hesitation, let that familiar grin creep over his face.
“Koscheck? I don’t know; fans were asking me that earlier,” he said. “We will see if he wants to fight [Jon] Fitch, then they can both fight in San Jose. Koscheck told me he wants to fight in San Jose; I haven’t heard from Fitch, though.”
In other words, White’s already thought about it. Plenty. Only this time, the old idea -- as much ire as it usually draws from the brotherhood at the American Kickboxing Academy -- does make a certain amount of sense.
Both guys want to fight in San Jose. Both are top-10 welterweights who find themselves in a collective purgatory after losing to Georges St. Pierre. The big difference is that Fitch is looking for passage back to GSP; Koscheck has resolved that the welterweight title dreams belong to a bygone day. Now he wants big fights for big money (until he moves to middleweight, where he can reinvent himself as a challenger). The terminology for guys in Koscheck’s current position is “gatekeeper.”
And yet there’s the hitch. As teammates, Koscheck and Fitch have traditionally refused to fight each other on principle. To this point they have managed to avoid it becoming a major issue, mostly because they both lost their title bids. If the UFC is really dangling the fight out there for both guys and they happen to refuse again, it won’t make any big waves this time, either. Fitch is already signed on for a bout against Johny Hendricks for UFC 141. So be it.
But just think what would happen if the UFC rearranged the furniture a little bit here?
If Fitch were to fight and get through Koscheck on Nov. 19, it’s a twofold win. Not only does he beat a guy with better standing than Hendricks, but he does it a full six weeks before his scheduled Dec. 30 date. Timing is as important as merit in the UFC. St. Pierre and Condit fight on Oct. 29, just three weeks before the San Jose card. If Fitch beats Koscheck, he could be discussed very legitimately as the next in line for the GSP/Condit winner, ahead of Nick Diaz or B.J. Penn. Say what you want about his fighting style, but the timing would work, and his merit could not be thrown into question.
Was White serious about offering Fitch to Koscheck? Who knows. But if he was, and Fitch has a chance to hasten his step back to GSP, he should do it. That’s his goal. And Koscheck should oblige, because in that scenario, why would he prevent Fitch’s chances with a refusal to fight?
As a fellow competitor, it’s much better to prevent Fitch’s passage by refusal to lose.