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UFC 135: Josh Koscheck Rolls Out Red Carpet For Matt Hughes

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Josh Koscheck is among the few fighters who people tune in to see even if it's just to see him lose. He's a shameless promoter of his fights, but this weekend seems to be a rare exception.

Photo via <a href="http://www.mmaconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/post-images/josh_koscheck.jpg">www.mmaconvert.com</a>
Photo via www.mmaconvert.com

Will the real Josh Koscheck please stand up.

Because that was hardly a heel-like performance on the UFC 135: "Jones vs. Rampage" pre-fight press conference dais yesterday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

Almost exactly two years after he called out Matt Hughes in his triumphant post-fight interview at UFC 103: "Franklin vs. Belfort" on Sept. 19, 2009, Koscheck was seemingly at a loss for words with the showdown for which he's publicly campaigned for being so near.

Fighting words, anyway.

Respectful, reserved and seemingly subdued, "Kos" didn't predict a violent finish, land a low blow or even take Hughes to task for "ducking" him and his American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) stablemates for years. On the contrary, he even offered a possible excuse for Hughes' reluctance.

"I feel that this fight should have happened a long time ago. I'm not sure why it [never did] -- I've asked for it a number of times," he told the assembled members of the media and fans in attendance. "I'm not sure why he didn't accept it, or maybe he was just never offered it."

Koscheck has made a name for himself throughout the years with his sharp tongue, polarizing --  and often times alienating -- fans with against-the-grain, filter-free remarks that put butts in seats. He doesn't care what people think. He couldn't care less what you think about his fighting style. He's going to speak his mind, brazenly promote his fights and at least get under the skin of someone.

Not this time around.

He chalked up his out-of-character pre-fight promotional performance to the short turnaround and the inability to get too worked up over a bout that only has 19 days of build up. Koscheck, coming off a nine-month layoff, agreed to replace an injured Diego Sanchez little more than two weeks ago.

"I'm not trying to disrespect Matt Hughes, he's been a good representative of the UFC, and for this sport," he said. "Plus, you really can't stir up too much in 19 days, as much as I'd like to just for the fun of it. Matt is a good guy, we have a lot in common, so I think he's a well respected fighter around the sport and this is just going to be a fun fight."

Oh really? Short turnarounds haven't stopped Koscheck before from flapping his gums. Nothing has, really, especially when the topic has turned to Hughes at any point in the last 725 days since the original call out in Texas.

So why, now, with a UFC Hall of Fame inductee dead in his crosshairs -- the Golden Goose that he has been chasing in vain for years -- has Koscheck decided to zip his lips? It's rather simple. And Koscheck even said it himself: He's not about to talk trash about a UFC legend -- one who is likely about to step inside the Octagon for the very last time -- "just for fun."

"I know that this is Matt's last fight on his UFC contract and I'm sure he wants to go out, especially if he plans to retire after this, he wants to go out with a win," he said. "This is going to be a good, fun fight."

Hughes has not revealed that retirement is imminent, but he certainly has not ruled it out altogether. The former welterweight champion has dodged the question all weekend long, saying, "I'm just going to talk with the UFC after this and we'll see." But if actions truly do speak louder than words, Hughes' demeanor and body language are screaming retirement.

"I'm 37 ... I don't want to be in my forties and fighting," he said. "I don't. I'm about to be 38, so we'll just have to see what's going on. I'm not going to sign another four-fight deal ... that's for sure."

It's odd that a Koscheck fight takes a back seat to another more drama-fueled contest on a card. But that's exactly what has happened in "The Mile High City," with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson demanding the lion's share of attention for their heated exchanges.

That seems to suit Koscheck just fine ... for now.

"I'm a little antsy up here because usually all my fights have all the drama and this fight doesn't have the drama as these two guys [Jones and Jackson] over here," Koscheck quipped. "So it's a different scene for me."

It's a different scene for everyone. Maybe he's not such a bad guy after all.