Pretty soon, Josh Koscheck will have a lot in common with the NBA’s LeBron James. Last week, amidst the feel of a championship game, James returned to his former home court in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers as a member of the Miami Heat.
The crowd reached a fever pitch as James hit the floor. Every time he touched the ball, the fans in attendance booed him with a ferocity that hasn’t been seen lately in sports. Well, maybe not until Josh Koscheck steps into Montreal’s Bell Centre on Saturday night.
Koscheck’s relationship with the Montreal crowd started off fairly rough after the American Kickboxing Academy welterweight defeated Paul Daley to earn a spot as a coach on the twelfth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite their hometown hero Georges St-Pierre. The victory also lined Koscheck up for Saturday’s shot at St-Pierre’s UFC welterweight title.
The former Edinboro University All-American turned the heat up a few more notches with his post fight speech.
“Don’t worry, Pittsburgh Penguins are going to kick your ass next week baby! And then I’m going to beat St-Pierre, so you guys are going to lose twice. How about that? Yeah, that’s right Montreal,” Koscheck shouted.
The first prediction fell short. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Penguins in seven games in last year’s NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, but Koscheck has a chance on Saturday night to see if the other half of his proclamation can come true.
“I’m sure they’re going to be on Georges’ side, chanting GSP all the time and booing me. It is what it is,” Koscheck told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I’ve still got to go in there and win the fight. Right now, I’m just focused on my next couple days of training, getting my weight down, and come to Montreal and shut all 23,000 people up.”
Koscheck has embraced the role of villain over the last few years in the UFC. For him it’s not about fanfare and applause, because he gets just as much excitement out of proving people wrong.
The former NCAA champion wrestler isn’t new to hostile environments, although going into Montreal when facing St-Pierre will be a whole different animal. He’s not shying away from the venom he’ll receive from the crowd. As a matter of fact, he’s planning on embracing it and quieting them all down with his performance.
So who will have a rougher response from a crowd? LeBron going back home to Cleveland or Koscheck stepping into St-Pierre’s backyard of Montreal?
“I don’t know, it will probably be the same,” Koscheck said comparing what he expects at the Bell Centre to LeBron’s recent homecoming.
When LeBron James finished his first game back in Cleveland, he left with 38 points, eight assists, and five rebounds, while his Miami Heat won in a route, 118-90. When it was over, James spoke well of the Cleveland fans despite their vile attempts to rattle him during the game. He used words like ‘respect’ and ‘love’ to describe them.
It’s not likely Koscheck will be using those same words for the Montreal fans on Saturday night, especially if his prediction become reality.
“My plan is to shut them all up and knock Georges St-Pierre out.”