It’s unusual for anyone from Weitchpec, Calif. to make their name known.
However, that’s what Louis and Orion Cosce have set out to do – and they’re close to achieving that. The brothers will compete Tuesday on Dana White’s Contender Series 29 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. And in doing so, they’ve already defied the odds.
Weitchpec is a small community within the Yurok reservation, which is right outside Humboldt County in northwest California. How small is small? The brothers estimate the population of the community is approximately 150 people.
“It was one of those things where we just worked hard, and we looked back at where we were and where we are now,” Orion told MMA Junkie. “We appreciate everything we’ve been through as the people we are today.”
Though their father introduced them to wrestling, Orion and Louis always wanted to take their talents further. While their dad wanted them to be police officers, and other relatives wanted them to model, the Cosce brothers dreamed of becoming fighters. Growing up, they’d emulate “Dragonball Z” characters, playfully yet powerfully scrapping whenever they could.
“We had some dumb (expletive) where it’d be me, Louis, and one of our homies from back in the day,” Orion said. “We’d be like, ‘We’re going to run up the hill and spar the entire time.’ So as we’re running, we’re punching and kicking the (expletive) out of one another.’ We were just hella young and dumb, but we had a blast.”
The childhood fighting extended beyond their walks to and from school or hanging out. Their father would have his friends over the house.
“He had us fighting each other a lot as kids,” Louis said. “He’d have his friends and their kids show up, and we’d (expletive) scrap.”
Throughout their childhood, Louis and Orion bounced from home to home as a result of their parents’ circumstances. At times, the brothers were separated. Even though they separated physically, they never stopped maintaining their powerful relationship.
“We grew up with multiple families,” Orion said. “It’s one of those things, for us, where it takes a village to raise a child. That’s what it was for us, but we were always there for each other, too. There would be days where I’d be taking care of Louis, and I’d be a year older than he is. We’d be looking out for each other days on end while our parents were out doing whatever they were doing. Whenever we were by ourselves, we’re wherever we were staying, we’d be like, ‘Let’s go outside and keep ourselves busy.’”
Living on the side of a mountain in a tiny community had physical and geographical difficulties, but the challenges didn’t end there. The societal pressure of drug use was a major issue growing up, which they said even directly affected their family.
“Having parents who weren’t doing too much – like, getting involved in drugs and stuff, it just kind of makes you grow up a lot faster,” Louis said. “Realism plays instead of fantasy. Realism comes into play as a little kid, so you’ve got to grow up faster. That’s a harsh reality of life back where I’m from. I think that’s everywhere, too.”
Louis credits Orion with pulling him away from going down a dark path. Many of their friends had gotten tangled up in a life of drugs. Orion served as a role model for his younger brother.
“To be honest, if it wasn’t for my brother, I’d probably be on drugs or dead right now,” Louis said. “I have a lot of friends who got tweaked out, are dead, or committed suicide by just going down the wrong path, honestly. My brother was a smart kid who worked hard. It was really easy to look up to him and follow his footsteps. A lot of my friends weren’t doing that. I hung out with those kids, and I loved those guys, but I just knew I didn’t want to be like that.
“My brother was an easy example to follow. He always got good grades and was training hard. As the years went on, it kind of went from wanting to do it, to turning into a habit.”
Walking the wire by running with bad decision makers, the brothers grew up quickly. Life became “real” at a young age. Being faced with mature decisions at an immature age taught the boys life’s hard lessons early.
“(Drug use) was everywhere,” Louis said. “It was in our family – and still is. It’s still really bad. As a kid, you don’t really recognize it. You’re living in that fantasy life where you’re out catching bugs, playing with your friends. As soon as you get a couple years older, you start to recognize different things – how your family is acting and what’s happening around you. You just have to grow up a lot faster. It’s (expletive) up, but it’s just the way life goes.”
After college didn’t work out for Orion, he returned home and began training with Louis. For Louis’ MMA debut, Orion cornered. The experience solidified their dreams as goals, and the two fighters pursued professional fighting.
In the end, Louis and Orion turned out OK – better than OK, actually. They’ve thrived, continuing their ascent up the MMA ladder toward their ultimate dream job.
Orion trains at Team Alpha Male and Louis at Lost Boys BJJ, where the two brothers got their MMA start. The two fighters have accumulated individual 6-0 records with a handful of finishes apiece.
On Tuesday, Orion takes on Matt Dixon (9-0) before Louis headlines DWCS 29 against Victor Reyna (11-4). The world will officially learn the story of Louis and Orion Cosce – but it’s ending hasn’t been written yet. Whatever that turns out to be, the brothers hope to inspire the community back in Weitchpec.
“(You’re) going to witness two brothers who grew up in the harsh reality of life and worked hard their whole lives finally pay off for them,” Orion said. “We’re going to go out there and do what we know best, which is (expletive) hurt people. We’re pretty good at it. I think a lot of the world is about to be on our side. We’re about to have people realize it doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters how hard you work and what you’re willing to put in.”
Added Louis: “It would mean everything to see myself succeed and my brother succeed from a small town with all the (expletive) we’ve been through and all the adversity we’ve come through, to see it and bring back all that hope and make everybody at home proud of us. In the small town we come from, there aren’t a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of anything around here, honestly. Hopefully, we bring some life to some people’s eyes to see two kids from this area make it.”