UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva - Erik Koch vs. Daron Cruickshank preview and prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Erik Koch moves up in weight in the UFC to take on fellow lightweight and TUF alumn, Daron Cruickshank and should prove to be a mostly stand up war for UFC Fight Night: Brown vs. Silva.

Erik Koch vs. Daron Cruickshank Lightweight

Now we're getting somewhere.

Indeed.

So what's the skinny on these two? Are they trending up or down?

They've kind of teetered more than anything.

Ever since Erik Koch's loss to Chad Mendes in the WEC, I had always been fairly bullish on him. He had a veritable treasure chest of weapons at his disposal, and he struck me as extremely composed in the cage. That poise is something you just can't teach. Knocking out Raphael Assuncao was the ostensible next step.

I only watch Jon Jones, Chuck Liddell, and ring card girls so I don't remember the rest of this story. What happened next?

At 25 years of age, I still feel like Koch has room to grow. But he took one of the most violent losses I've ever seen to Ricardo Lamas at the FOX Johnson vs. Dodson show.

Isn't he the kid that lost an eye?

It sure looked like it.

After another loss to Dustin Poirier I suspect his confidence took quite the hit. Now he's going up to LW where he once fought.

As for Daron he's a far better fighter than I ever would have expected. He's another in a surprising string of TUF fighters who have turned out to be good. He got back into the groove of things by beating Mike Rio who I felt would be a tough stylistic matchup for him.

Daron is a +325 in some places. Good bet?

Absolutely.

I'm a Koch believer, but there's no doubting that he's appeared to stumble in high profile matchups.

Couldn't you argue the same for Cruickshank? Damn that's a nightmare to spell regularly. How do you do it?

I just avoid spelling Cruickshank...doh!

But you're right. However, I'm sticking to my guns here. I've still got my hands on the steering wheel when it comes to the Kock bandwagon. He's never looked out of place against the elite until he fought Poirier. In fact, watch his fight with Lamas again. Koch is firmly in control until he sort of inadvertently ends up on his back.

Firmly in control? Inadvertently? That's a bit much ain't it?

Perhaps. But I believe a fight between the two is close and competitive 9 elbows through the cornea out of 10.

In addition, Koch is still a solid scrapper on the feet. A lot will be made of Daron's ability to keep his distance and execute his usual, and impressive array of spinning kicks. But I think Koch's counter punching and accuracy will do him favors.

Daron's defense leaves a lot to be desired as well. Yves Edwards was able to land a lot and he's a well past his prime fighter. Plus consider the Adriano Martins fight. Daron does a good job of keeping maintaining his distance with leg kicks, and staying active without overcommitting, but Martins and Bobby Green, two guys responsible for his two submission losses share a lot in common with Koch; the ability to quickly capitalize on an opportunity.

So you think Koch can get it to the ground?

I do. Dustin is considered a solid prospect himself, and is a natural on the ground, and Koch had him in trouble early in their fight, and got some looks late in the bout as well. Daron is in a world of jiu jitsu pain if the fight goes there.

Yea but how many people get submitted in top control these days?

Not many. But it's not like Daron will go for a takedown here. I could easily see Koch getting his back in an exchange. Basically, I'm picking Koch and nothing will change my mind. He's not the better striker, but he's the better mixed martial artist. And yes, Daron at those odds is an excellent bet because I could see him controlling the fight on the feet while they're upright, but I would argue that Koch is the best fighter he's faced.

Erik Koch by RNC, round 2.

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