A first-round knockout at the hands of Tyron (The Chosen One) Woodley at UFC 167 seemed like the end of the road for Koscheck. It was his third straight loss and ended in savage fashion.
He was outstruck 22-5 in four minutes 38 seconds and the two punches that finished him off were so brutal that UFC president Dana White took the unusual step of entering the cage after a non-title fight — to see if Koscheck was OK.
Koscheck (19-8) believes he got his tactics wrong, trying to pressure a fighter with a big punch, and paid for it.
"When you have a loss like that, you've got to re-evaluate everything. You've got to determine where you want to be," he said. "I thought it was just best to take some time off and figure out what direction I need to go in to get better."
(Rowdy) Ronda Rousey defends her women's bantamweight title against No. 1 contender Cat Zingano in the main event at Staples Center on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Koscheck doesn't need to keep fighting. A 2012 Cribs-style video on Fuel TV showed off his mansion in Fresno, Calif., complete with pool, Range Rover, Mercedes, Ferrari, scooter and his-and-her motorcycles.
He confesses he has since sold the Ferrari.
"I actually didn't really drive the Ferrari. It sat in my garage for nine months and I figured I'd sell that. So I sold that and bought an airplane."
Yes, an airplane.
"I like toys," he said. "I've always done good things with my money and it's not just about buying toys ... I've had every toy I can possible imagine. At this point in my career, it's more about focusing on business. So I don't have as many toys as I used to have. When you're young you want to do crazy things — fly planes, drive fast cars."
Koscheck says he has his hands in a lot of cookie jars, including a heavy stake in real estate.
He has fought for the title — Georges St-Pierre sent him to a facial surgeon in 2010. And Saturday's bout will move Koscheck into a tie for third place for all-time UFC fights at 24 with Randy Couture, Gleison Tibau and Frank Mir. Tito Ortiz tops the list at 27, followed by Matt Hughes at 25.
Ortiz, Hughes, Couture and Mir were all champions. And Ortiz, Hughes and Couture are in the UFC's Hall of Fame.
Koscheck and Diego Sanchez are the last remnants of the Season 1 cast of "The Ultimate Fighter," which premiered in January 2005.
Ellenberger (29-9) is ranked 11th among welterweight contenders. Like Koscheck, the 29-year-old has lost his last three fights against elite opposition.
Koscheck was beaten by Woodley, (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler and Johny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks, who both went on to win the welterweight title. Ellenberger lost to Lawler, TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum and Canadian welterweight contender Rory MacDonald.
"We both haven't been fighting a bunch of bums," said Koscheck.
Koscheck admits it wasn't easy coming back. His body rebelled some days.
"I could barely walk. I felt like I was 150 years old. But as training camp went on, it got better."
He says he no longer has the energy or inclination to play the villain, as he did early in his career. When not training, he is too busy focusing on his other business interests to talk smack.
And he is convinced he remains relevant.
"I know that any given day I believe I can beat those guys at the top."
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