UFC contender Brian Ebersole is a frequent visitor to our site. He has given us some of the most interesting, entertaining and popular interviews we’ve ever done. So when Brian agreed to talk to us about his history with AKA and Josh Koscheck, we knew we’d get a nice insider’s view of what might be cause of Koscheck’s recent split and subsequent bashing of his former team. As you know, Ebersole too is a former AKA fighter who’s time there overlapped with that of Koscheck’s. Read on for a full account. It’s a good one.
VigilanteMMA: Hey Brian. There’s been a big buzz in the MMA community this past week or two due to Josh Koscheck leaving AKA (and his very kind endorsement of his former team!). I know that your favorite subject is YOU, but would you have some time to give us your thoughts on this situation?
Brian Ebersole: Well, I’ve interviewed with you guys a few times, and it has always been about me. This will be a refreshing change. Not exactly a ‘fun’ subject matter, but I’ll chat with you nonetheless.
VigilanteMMA: We know you trained at AKA for a while back in the day. When were you there?
Brian Ebersole: I was at AKA from 2003-2005. At that time, I left the team also; as another team/training situation was appealing. Mind you, this was during the formative years of AKA, where there were no really big fights, no TUF, and many involved in the AKA training/management program were also working full-time outside of the gym. Resources were not nearly as grand as they are today!
VigilanteMMA: When did Koscheck enter the picture at AKA?
Brian Ebersole: Josh came out to AKA in 2004, but he didn’t come straight out to live in San Jose. He immediately settled into Fresno, where our manager lived in a mansion, had a private jet, and set Josh up with a cozy income-earning position coaching wrestling, privately, to groups of school-kids. Being AKA’s first All-American wrestler, he seemed to have gotten the royal treatment. That’s my view, looking back. With that, Mr. Koscheck traveled into San Jose when he saw fit.
VigilanteMMA: He certainly doesn’t always come across as a team player in interviews; and during his time coaching on TUF he didn’t come across all that well. Did he fit in with the team?
Brian Ebersole: Well, during my overlapping time there, he wasn’t around much. He was in Fresno, and I think he traveled back to New York and Pennsylvania a bit as well. Socially, I found him abrasive. I think others did as well. But not being there all that much, it’s not like he was able to rub anyone raw. We were all, I assume, happy to have a talented training partner.
My only real intimate experience with him came when I volunteered to travel to Buffalo, NY (where he was a collegiate wrestling coach). I had booked fights for Mike Kyle, Josh, and myself…
VigilanteMMA: Wait, wait! What did you just say?
Brian Ebersole: You heard right, I booked his first fight! Historic records should reflect! I flew to New York, trained/lived with him for a week, and met him in Colorado for the event. I was happy to help, happy to train, and had a decent weekend all told. But since Josh has (recently) gone out of his way to bag folks — I’ll throw in a jab myself.
During his fight, in round 2, he came out to touch gloves against a striker named Cruz Chacon, who had a mixed record. I think Josh got scared that Cruz was going to hurt his hand with the fist bump, so he ducked it completely and double legged him! Then he held him down for 5 minutes, as one could expect.
VigilanteMMA: Yikes. That was inside the cage. Did anything else stand out to you during your time spent with Koscheck that weekend?
Brian Ebersole: That night, after the fights, the three of us stayed out all night and were late getting back to the hotel for our early flight. A kid who had been working with the promotion had just taken a trip to the Denver Airport with other fighters. He was sooo tired, and his job was done for the weekend. Josh got a bit heated and what must have been scary to the little fellow. Needless to say, he drove us to the airport, however reluctantly. I ended up fielding multiple phone calls that afternoon, from the promotion, regarding “our behavior” and the bullying of this young fellow. I was embarrassed, to say the least. It was clearly our fault for being late. We just couldn’t finish our last cocktails fast enough. Nobody else to blame for that, except us. I was glad we did not miss our flight, as a flight-change would have incurred a big fee. But to have left a bad taste with a promoter, that wasn’t ideal. So Josh’s “attitude” was both a blessing and a curse in this instance.
On a side note, my fight check from this event bounced twice before I was able to collect funds. That took me 6 weeks, and a fair few overdraft fees. I paid all my bills immediately upon return from the fight weekend, but the paycheck didn’t clear. Every check I wrote for an entire week, BOUNCED! My $30 cable bill bounced, so it ended up being a $55 cable bill after the overdraft fee. And that was just one of many. Recall, we were worried about a flight-change fee. We didn’t incur one. But for me, Karma came quick. Fees in another form quickly struck! Hmmm…Karma—I’m a believer.
VigilanteMMA: Kos ripped on Javier Mendez and the other AKA coaches. How do you feel about the coaches there?
Brian Ebersole: I think AKA has some of the most talented coaches he could have asked for. Camarillo, BJJ/Judo Black belt. Javier was a world champion. Bob Cook was an undefeated MMA fighter and is widely regarded as Frank Shamrock’s best student (and he went on to train under many more talented gentlemen). Daniel Cormier came out and acted as a coach and teammate. Jerome Turcan, who handled my striking development, is a multiple time French Savate Champion and a former K-1 Finalist. I mean, he was surrounded by talented former athletes, and some of the best active athletes in his weight class (Fitch, Swick, etc.)
He couldn’t get good work in? It was there to be had. He mentioned that Javier coached him but that he didn’t learn anything. Really? I learn from BJJ blue belts whilst I travel the globe teaching and training. And you can’t learn from a former World Champion? That’s a curious comment, if you ask me, which you did.
My feelings about the coaches there? Again, I was there during a different era. The system was not in place as it is now. And I, admittedly, did not take full advantage whilst there. I had stretches, where I trained well. And I learned so much. But I didn’t’ see a future at AKA, as nobody took the time to really map it out, and MMA did not have the opportunities that is does now.
I left because I did not feel that I had a mentor in the gym, and our manager, Dwayne Zinkin, was fairly inactive during this time, at least on a personal level. But Josh had exactly the opposite situation. Dwayne took great interest in ensuring Josh was living comfortably.
I just wasn’t sure that the AKA program was going to push me into the UFC. Bob Cook was busily working himself to the bone, as a general contractor, and Dwayne Zinkin didn’t really give me much input as far as outlining future goals/projects. Without having an understanding of my own future, as the management/training team saw it, I felt alone and a bit insecure in trying to make a career of MMA—and again, California was expensive.
The TUF Season 1 really made AKA, in my opinion. Three guys ended up on the show, and Jon Fitch was right on their heels, as he would gain a contract through his outstanding record and the fact that the UFC was now in contact with AKA regularly because of Swick, Kos, and Southworth being on the show. I’d left just before that boom, and watched all of my teammates greatly benefit from the UFC/TUF success. But I did get to fight Cung Le in San Shou, going to a close decision, and gained extreme confidence in my ability to fight standing up! It all works out, I guess.
VigilanteMMA: What you’ve told us today seems like what we saw of Koscheck on TUF and what we see of him in interviews is a pretty accurate picture of who he is.
Brian Ebersole: I’m not alone in thinking he’s a dick. I revisited AKA a time or two since I’d moved to Australia. The first time, I came off of a 14-hour flight and went straight to the gym. I announced that I had a fairly serious neck injury. I had a decent spar with Fitch, who held me down and beat me up, but kept a respectable speed/intensity. But Koscheck acted like I was standing in the way of him and a paycheck. And socially, he was very abrasive per usual.
In all of our interactions, never once did he thank me for booking his 1st fight, or taking my Christmas holiday to head out and train with him (on my own dime). I think he was successful because he had a chip on his shoulder all his life. And that’s fine. But when life opens its doors to you, allows you to live the dream, maybe some class, tact, and grace is called for? Life and society has obviously stopped beating Koscheck up at every turn. I assume an educated guy like him would actually put into practice some of the things he’s “learned” about treating others as you’d like to be treated.
He’s always a bit flippant and disrespectful to Helwani, but this last interview was ridiculous. Bad attempts at humor and despite the line of questioning, he brought it back to the drama/breakup he had with AKA. He went well out of his way to slander Javier Mendez and the system that AKA has built. Very disrespectful. Koscheck was not a self-made UFC star, as he’d like you to believe. There are more guys than just me that remember him punching like a girl for a few years. He’s figured it out now, and punches with power, but he didn’t do that on his own.
If he had any problems with Javier, it’s because Javier was the only one that would conflict with him. Most of the coaches are very non-confrontational. Javier tells it how he sees it. Josh probably had a big problem anytime criticism came; and 90% of that would have come from Javier, because it was not in the nature of the other coaches. Not surprising that they butted heads. And not surprising that Kos has acted like a child in regard to his life-changing plans. Disappointing to many, no doubt. But not surprising to anyone who knows him.
VigilanteMMA: As always, you’ve given us some great stuff. I really appreciate you taking the time to clear some things up about the Koscheck/AKA drama that’s been going on.
Like this interview? Friend us on Facebook.