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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Josh Koscheck split off from his longtime home at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. earlier this year to start a new gym in Fresno, but also to get away from AKA coach Javier Mendez. He's made it clear since discussing the split that his only issues were with Mendez, and no one else at the gym, and his personal feelings went to another level recently.
AKA, its fighters, and its coaches will be featured in a new series on NUVO TV called Fight Factory, which begins this month, and in advance of the show's August 18 debut, a clip featuring Koscheck and Jon Fitch was released. It's the two friends sitting around Fitch's house conversing, and the topic of Koscheck's split from Mendez and the gym led to a rather harsh declaration.
"The bridge over in San Jose is pretty much burnt," Koscheck told Fitch. "And it's nothing to do with anybody over there, there's only one person, and we all know that person is Javier [Mendez]. I just wasn't happy and it wasn't the place for me anymore... I hope the gym burns. To the ground. Is that bad? Hopefully nobody's in it... well maybe one person. But if it burns down I'm cool, we'll be good."
Koscheck's harsh personal feelings stem from comments made by Mendes, but he also discussed with Fitch what he felt was a major change in Mendez over his time spent at the gym.
"I'm done with this f***ing guy," Koscheck made clear. "Does the guy not know how much I've done for him and his gym? Fighting for eight years under that name. Eight years. Not once did he ever come up to me and say, "Kos, you know what, thank you for fighting under the gym.' He never really truly cared about coming to your fights until you were on TV. He never truly cared about coming to my fights until I was fighting in the big fights. Because he wanted to build his own name off of us."
"Too much fame, too much TV, people change. I can say truly, Fitch, I've been the same from day one. Total D-I-C-K. From day one. I say what I feel, and if you don't like it, tough s***. He changed."
The comments didn't really come as a surprise to Mendez, who reacted in an interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com on Wednesday. In Los Angeles for AKA fighter Mike Swick's return to action this Saturday at UFC on Fox 4, Mendez was nonetheless willing to address Koscheck.
"When you've spent eight years with an individual like Josh, I think that nothing is going to surprise you with him," Mendez said. "Actually he really hates me, so, it didn't shock me. That's him, that's who he is. I just wish, if it does burn down, that I'm not in it. Other than that, that's who he is, that's the type of person he is. I don't know what else to say other than that's who he is."
"It's who he is, I'm not going to let it affect me. Hey, we're not friends. He doesn't want to be my friend, he made it very obvious, so I've just moved on. I've got a team to focus on, and we've got a great team."
Still, Mendez wouldn't say Koscheck's feelings were unwarranted. He admitted at least some fault for the deterioration of their relationship, though he was somewhat cryptic on just what he did, saying you'll need to watch the show when it debuts on August 15.
"I'm at fault only because, like a person who is in charge, who knows if you do certain things - you know your children type of thing, and you know what they'll do - I did something that I knew could cause a bad reaction, and if I had to do it all over again I probably wouldn't. But I've gotta accept... my responsibility for it."
"Yeah, I do [regret it]. Because you know what? I don't like hate, and I created legit hate. So I do regret it, but you'll have to watch the show to hear what it is."
Penick's Analysis: People are focusing a lot on the "I hope the gym burns down" comment, without going into any of the context behind his feelings towards Mendez. Indeed, Helwani was seemingly attempting to instigate a negative response from Mendez by asking if it was getting too personal with a comment like that, but it came off as a throw-away, jokingly frustrated comment. That's not to defend Koscheck, who described himself as a dick in that very same clip. There are a lot of sore feelings still there, and though wishing death and destruction on any individual and their business isn't exactly a kind thought, it's not as if he's heading down to San Jose with a can full of gas and a handful of matches.
[Josh Koscheck art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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