Josh Koscheck talks Bellator 172, state of MMA

Josh Koscheck, 39, will make his Bellator debut Saturday when he squares off with Mauricio Alonso in San Jose, California. Sherdog.com

Nineteen months after signing a multifight deal with Bellator MMA, veteran welterweight Josh Koscheck is finally ready to make his promotional debut.

The bout was announced with very little warning. Koscheck, 39, will face the virtually unknown Mauricio Alonso (12-7) at Bellator 172 on Saturday in San Jose, California. Bellator officials only announced the matchup late last month.

Koscheck (17-10), who was forced to pull out of multiple fights in 2016 due to injury, said he'd been in the gym for a good stretch of time and jumped at the opportunity when it was presented.

"I've had a great career. I've fought some of the best in the world," Koscheck told ESPN.com. "With what Bellator's got going on, I can fight guys my own age, which is cool. I'm not in this to make money. I'm trying to test myself at age 39, see what I'm still capable of. And we'll get to find out on Saturday."

Koscheck is not the only UFC veteran who has found sanctuary in the Bellator cage. For better or worse, Bellator seems more open to booking its veterans to -- for lack of a better description -- less dangerous fights than perhaps the UFC would.

Don't get the one-time UFC title challenger wrong: Koscheck isn't looking for handouts, and he doesn't view Alonso as being one. But there's a difference between his matchup this weekend than, say, the UFC fight BJ Penn, 38, walked into last month against 24-year-old Yair Rodriguez.

"They fed BJ to the lions in that one," Koscheck said. "If BJ were to come to Bellator, they'd put him in a good matchup that is something exciting for the fans. I hated to see BJ in that kind of fight, taking that kind of damage. That kid he fought is a stud.

"BJ has money. He's not fighting for money. He wants to compete. I also want to go in and compete, get my hand raised."

As far as his time away from the cage, Koscheck said it was mostly spent grinding away on several business interests.

He did not follow MMA headlines closely, even when 2016 brought along several changes in the industry. His major thought on the $4 billion sale of the UFC was, "it's gonna be real hard for them to recoup that money," and he did not take much interest in the multiple efforts made to unionize fighters.

Koscheck is a proponent of expanding boxing's Muhammad Ali Act to MMA, which has been introduced to Congress in bill form. Koscheck said he's in favor of fighters licensing themselves as boxers in the meantime, so they can potentially reap the benefits of the act.

"All these guys should probably get their boxing license. I think that little Irish kid has done it right," said Koscheck, referring to UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

"One thing he shouldn't be doing is asking for ownership in the UFC, though, because that money's going to be tough to recoup. He should be asking for guaranteed money."