UFC on Fox 6: Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas have emerged as two of the top contenders in the featherweight division, so a title shot could be on the line when they meet on the UFC on Fox 6 main card.
At one point, Koch had already been pegged as the top 145-pound contender, but an injury has kept him out of action for 16 months and caused him to lose his shot at champion Jose Aldo.
Likewise, Lamas was briefly linked to a championship bout with Aldo before the UFC opted to put together a superfight of sorts between the Brazilian titleholder and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (via SportsTownChicago.com h/t MMARecap.com).
On Saturday, one of these fighters will at least temporarily fall out of the running for a title shot, while the other could put himself at the front of the pack of featherweight contenders.
Let's take a look at which fighter has the advantage heading into this matchup.
Considering Ricardo Lamas' performances against Hatsu Hioki and Cub Swanson on the ground in his past two outings, Erik Koch will likely want to keep this fight standing, where he should have the edge in the matchup.
Both fighters land with around 40 percent accuracy, but Koch carries more finishing ability and a longer reach than Lamas.
Koch has finished two of his past three opponents with standing strikes. Considering Lamas has been stopped by strikes from Danny Castillo and Yuri Alcantara, Koch's capable of adding another knockout victory to his resume at UFC on Fox 6.
With a submission win over Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas would pose a serious threat to Erik Koch on the ground. However, getting this fight into that position will be much easier said than done.
Despite his wrestling background, Lamas has only been successful on 38 percent of his takedown attempts.
Meanwhile, Koch has stuffed 82 percent of takedowns attempted against him. Most notably, Jonathan Brookins was only able to complete one takedown against Koch in 20 attempts, and Brookins is a much more aggressive and relentless wrestler than Lamas.
So, even though Lamas may have a huge advantage over Koch on the canvas, he may never end up there on Saturday. Certainly, Koch won't willingly seek to go to the ground like Hatsu Hioki did in Lamas' most recent victory.
The delays and eventual cancellation of Erik Koch's featherweight title fight with Jose Aldo resulted in a 16-month hiatus for the 24-year-old contender.
While long layoffs impact fighters differently, it's hard to imagine Koch could draw many positives from being on the shelf for so long.
Koch can't afford to start slow because of rust and be taken down by Ricardo Lamas early. If he does, there may not be a second round and another chance to start standing.
Depending on Erik Koch's condition after his long period of inactivity, this fight could go in two very different directions.
Personally, I'm of the mind that a 24-year-old athlete who has had a full training camp with high-level training partners shouldn't be significantly harmed by some time on the sidelines.
Koch is capable of keeping this fight standing, and if he does, Lamas is in trouble.
Koch defeats Lamas by technical knockout (punches) at 2:59 of the first round.