January 25, 2013

Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas: The No. 1 Contender’s Fight No One is Talking About

By Adam Martin

You wouldn’t know it because of a lack of promotion, but UFC on FOX 6’s first main card fight is a potential featherweight title eliminator.

Top contenders Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas meet this Saturday at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, and the winner could very well be matched up against the victor of UFC 156’s main event between UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar, which takes place next weekend. With the timing right to book the winners of each fight against each other sometime in the spring with the title on the line, it seems as if UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby’s job is already done.

But yes, while the timing works out very well, don’t get me wrong: both Koch and Lamas would be worthy of getting a title shot with a win this weekend, regardless of that fact.

Koch was supposed to fight Aldo at UFC 149, but Aldo pulled out with injury and the fight was rescheduled for UFC 153. But then Koch pulled out with an injury, and then Edgar replaced him. Because of the fight cancellations, Koch now hasn’t stepped foot in the Octagon in over 16 months, with his last fight being a decision win over Jonathan Brookins all the way back in September 2011. 2-0 in the UFC with an additional “Knockout of the Night” win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 128, Koch is one of the most talented 145-pounders on the planet, and now that he’s healthy he’s going to show his talent this weekend.

Like Koch, Lamas is an absolute stud. Since dropping down to 145 pounds, Lamas has picked up three straight wins in the UFC, with a knockout of Matt Grice, a submission on Cub Swanson, and a decision over Hatsu Hioki. He’s been a beast at featherweight, and he’s very well deserving of being in the opening bout on FOX. Keep in mind that Lamas was also told he would get a shot at Aldo back at UFC 153 when Koch got hurt, only to see Edgar step in in his place, so, like Koch, he’s going to be very hungry to come into this fight and prove that he’s the next guy who should be fighting for the title.

Both Lamas and Koch are WEC veterans, and it’s great to see them living up to their potential in the big show. However, it’s sad that this fight isn’t getting the promotion it deserves. I mean it’s not like it’s anywhere on the posters, despite the fact that, like I’ve mentioned, it’s likely to produce the next No. 1 contender in the UFC featherweight division, which is proving to be one of the most exciting weight classes in the sport.

But promotion or no promotion, both Koch and Lamas are almost always involved in fantastic fights so look for both guys to put on a show for the local fans – Koch is from Milwaukee, while Lamas is from Illinois – and deliver a “Fight of the Night” candidate this weekend. Let’s just hope that it’s one of the fights that helps put the featherweight division on the map, because we all know it deserves more attention that it’s currently getting by both the fans and, apparently, the UFC.


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