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Wednesday, 06/19/2013, 04:11 pm

EXCLUSIVE | RFA’s Keoni Koch: “I Think MMA is Only Going to Get Better” | BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio

By JAKE CHASTAIN

| RFA undefeated bantamweight competitor, Keoni “Evil Genius” Koch, was cool enough to talk with our crew of Denny and Anton at Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio this past Sunday. Koch, who has an upcoming bout this Friday, June 21st at RFA 8 against Pedro Munoz, came on the show to discuss his coaching, his start in the sport, his brother Erik Koch, and his upcoming bout at RFA 8, Here are some of the highlights from that bout:

Koch first explained how his life has been treating him and what it’s been like preparing for his RFA  debut. He stated, “It’s Crazy but it’s good.” 

“Since signing a three-fight contract with RFA it’s been kind of a whirlwind”

He then started talking about how he first got into MMA and what sparked his interest in martial arts. He explained, “I was interested in martial arts since I was a little kid.”

“I had completely bought in to Bruce Lee’s theory that we can’t really have a form. We have to be formless and we have to able to adapt to the situation.”

Koch went on explaining how he viewed martial arts and what really intrigued him by saying, “I was involved in martial arts because of the journey.”

“I was more interested in the kind of expressive form of it. You know? The journey.”

In regards to his original intentions behind getting into MMA he stated, “I had no real desire to [compete].” Those plans, however, we know eventually changed.

Koch also touched on what he learned after watching the first UFC event and witnessing the power of BJJ as Royce Gracie dominated the event. He went on saying, “It woke me up because it showed me something that I absolutely needed to know and that’s jiu-jitsu.”

Koch then talked about his start in the sport of MMA, coaching, and how far the sport has come since his start. He explained, “Since the age of 14 or 15 I’ve been interested. Since the age of 20 or so on I’ve been training pretty seriously or training fighters. So that’s my story. Starting in garages, starting in basements. You know, starting outdoors.” He continued, “We were driving 4 to 8 hours to fight in barns and warm up in, like, cattle washing showers. People don’t understand.”

Koch talked about how far the sport has come in such a short amount of time and how it has stayed alive through the rough times. He stated, “The MMA scene right now as we know it, at that point in time, did not exist.”

 “MMA was held together and help together by a very small amount of people on the internet on the underground forum and the sherdog forum.”

“It was really, really close to dying. They had killed it on cable and not a lot of people followed it, but there were people that were willing to drive across the country to fight for $300 on a week’s notice because they loved it.”

Koch explained that he was one of those individuals that helped keep the sport afloat and eventually help expand it into what it is today. He then stated, “Luckily people are giving it the respect that we always knew it deserved.”

He also compared competing in the sport today to that of his past by saying, “If we can compete in a barn and if we can warm-up around cow droppings here and there we can compete anywhere.”

 He then discussed his transition from being just an MMA coach to actually competing. In giving the reasoning behind his decision to compete he stated, “If I’m going to keep my credibility as a coach I’m feel almost like I have to go out there and compete to show these guys that I know what I’m talking about.”

He compared the modern fighter to that of a historical warrior during the conversation as he explained that a fighter shares “kind of the aspects of a gladiator. When you’re going in there, to me, that’s the last day of my life. You know what I mean? I’m going to train as hard as I possibly can so that when I get there I can slay the man that’s come to slay me. So I’m going to take it seriously. And when you take it seriously you do have to make certain sacrifices in you r family, you have to make certain sacrifices at work, and just the whole fight camp experience was miserable.”

He touched on how hard the training process was and the difficulty in balancing his family life with his fight life. He stated that he didn’t feel an immediate urge to return to fighting after his MMA debut but after a while he was coaxed into returning to the cage. He said he took awhile off but “That while was a year or two until I got guilted back into the cage where I would fight again.”

He continued explaining how, although he hasn’t had a ton of experience inside the cage, has has an advantage over some fighters that have been fighting 3-4 times a year and have 20+ fights. Koch explained, “I’ve been able to train for 10 to 13 years without beating my body up.”

Koch also touched on his health and how he felt heading into his first fight at 135 pounds. He said, “I’m relatively injury free. I’m going down to my lightest weight class ever and I love training and I want to beat people up. You know? So it’s great.”

He was then asked to touch on a rumored hand injury. Koch replied, “In the last fight I had I came out in the first round and got kind of over-zealous and I threw this huge overhand left bomb that everybody knows I like to throw, so be ready for it RFA opponents, and I completely smashed my fourth metacarpal. At the time I didn’t really know what I had did. It just knew that I had bruised my knuckles in training and that’s kind of what it felt like.” He continued, “I went out and threw the cross and I felt this crunch and I was like, ‘oh ok, that’s smashed. I’ll just have to elbow this guy in the face.’ It was broke, they put a plate in it.”

In how the hand was feeling now he explained, “It’s not 100% but, you know, I can make a solid fist with it and I can fight 2 or 3 rounds with a broken hand, I’m not concerned. I’ll be ready to go.”

Koch discussed the mentality of a fighter and what he looks for weaknesses in fighters, match-ups and opponents. He explained, “I would rather fight a guy that is firm in his cardio, strong in his conditioning, but is mentally weak. If I can see mental weakness in people’s eyes, and I have seen it before, I know that all I have to do is impose my will and they’re going to break.”

He then talked about the rugged and hard-working mentality that his camp and teammates in Milwaukee hold. He stated, “Our work ethic in the Midwest seems to be incredibly high, which is probably why we have a lot of really solid wrestlers around this area.”

Koch then started talking about the evolution of MMA with fighters and teammates like Anthony and Sergio Pettis, and his Erik Koch. Keoni stated, “I think MMA is only going to get better.”

He then talked about the skill set of his brother, UFC  featherweight Erik Koch, and how he is a feared striker but many people don’t understand how great his ground game is. Keoni, in talking about his brother, said, “He’s just as dangerous, if not more, on the ground. I would rather spar with my brother. And that’s saying something.” He continued, “He’s gonna have gold around his waist at some point in time.”

We want to give a huge thanks to Mr. Keoni Koch for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with our boys Denny and Anton and all of us here at BJPenn.com would like to wish him the very best as he prepares for his upcoming bout at RFA 8 against Pedro Munoz as the two battle to keep their undefeated records intact. The bout is scheduled for the RFA 8 card this Friday, June 21st at The Rave/Eagles Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

To listen to the entire interview with Keoni Koch on Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio click here

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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