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Where does Josh Koscheck go now?
Whether he won or lost a fight, one thing has always remained clear with Josh Koscheck: he's ready to fight again.
With his right eye swollen Saturday night after a split-decision loss to Johny Hendricks at UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center, Koscheck was in front of a microphone doing what he always does.
"I'm ready to fight again," said Koscheck (19-6). "Maybe we can line something up in a few weeks."
But where? Against who?
Hendricks won the fight, and coming off his one-punch knockout of Jon Fitch, appears to be the next title contender the UFC will help promote. Koscheck has already been that guy. It's as tough a spot to earn as there is. It takes wins, some self-promotion and marketing . . . and an image that can bring in pay-per-view buys.
So as the focus shifts to the winner Hendricks (and his beard), where does that leave Koscheck, who has been around long enough that you forget he was a contestant on Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter" seven years ago?
Koscheck has twice fought welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and lost both times by unanimous decision. He climbed the 170-pound ladder and lost his title shot to GSP in December 2010. Koscheck remains an upper-level welterweight, but ascending to the No. 1 spot again isn't easy. Especially in a division that includes interim champion Carlos Condit, Hendricks, Nick Diaz (in theory), Fitch, Jake Ellenberger, Rick Story, Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann, Damien Maia and B.J. Penn, to name a few.
"Josh Koscheck, because he gets booed, might not get the respect he deserves," UFC president Dana White said. "He's a great fighter and has been for a long time."
Koscheck is 2-1 since the GSP fight, with a knockout win over the aged veteran Matt Hughes and a split decision against up-and-comer Mike Pierce.
Hendricks got the split decision last Saturday in a fight that was close enough for either fighter to win. Still, at age 34, Koscheck looked fast enough and strong enough to compete with anyone in his division.
"I'm not one to ever [complain] about the decisions," Koscheck said. "I thought I won the first and the third but apparanetly the judges saw different. It was a good fight, though. I'll live to fight another day."
For Koscheck to make one more title run, he would likely need Condit to defeat GSP in order to be considered the legitimate champion. Koscheck would then have to string together a few victories over top-tier guys to get that shot at Condit's unified title.
Here's the thing on Koscheck: He excels at playing the heel, but he can fight.
Here's the other thing on Koscheck: Who wants to see him go 0-for-3 against GSP?