Erik Koch was simply on the wrong end of numerous sharp Ricardo Lamas elbows Saturday night at UFC on FOX 6.
Now, while it had been over 16 months since Koch made his last appearance in the Octagon, his misfortune in his return was more of an inability to withstand Lamas' overpowering top game.
Not to worry. Koch is still only 24 years old and still possesses enough wins in the division to keep him around as a top billing featherweight for 2013.
Here's five fights that "New Breed" should look to take next.
Dennis Bermudez is one of the quickest rising stars in the UFC today.
If he happens to capture yet another victory inside the Octagon in February when he meets Matt Grice, "The Menace" will make the jump from featherweight prospect to budding contender.
That would leave the UFC with the opportunity to conjure some interesting matchups atop the division. One would be a showdown between Bermudez and Erik Koch.
Stylistically, it would be a great fight. Bermudez does have strong wrestling and good submissions, but he'd be more than willing to exchange with the longer and more technical Koch.
Clay Guida wasn't really able to awe fans in his divisional debut against Hatsu Hioki at UFC on FOX 6, but he captured a win nonetheless.
Now the former lightweight contender seems ready to make a push towards the division's top five. Unfortunately for Guida, he'll have to get past guys like Erik Koch to do so.
Koch should absolutely salivate at the chance to exchange with a guy like Guida who possesses so much recognition around the sport. It would be a chance to regain stardom within the division and showcase his reach-based standup against a physically smaller opponent.
Guida would have trouble in Koch's guard if he just so happened to get him down, similar to his recent woes on the ground against Hioki, but the veteran could find a home for some of his wild punches.
Similar to Erik Koch, Max Holloway is one of the UFC's most prized young prospects.
He's long, precise, intelligent and utilizes all facets of his striking game to stop featherweight opponents in their tracks.
Currently riding a three-fight win streak, the 21-year-old Holloway has made his case for deserving bigger and better opponents, like Koch.
If the UFC doesn't slowly bring the young Holloway along in effort to maintain his future potential, a matchup with Koch sometime in 2013 should be in the works.
Dennis Siver was expected to face Cub Swanson at UFC on Fuel TV next month but was ultimately forced out of the bout due to injury.
Now without an opponent heading into the warmer months of 2013, the UFC should look to ride Siver's hot hand since making a move to featherweight back in 2012 and give him a top opponent upon his return.
Erik Koch is a perfect candidate.
For Koch, a matchup against the very strong Siver could produce similar problems that he recently had against Ricardo Lamas. However, with reach on his side, as well as the fact that Siver loves to strike, "New Breed" should find it fairly easy to land strikes.
This makes the most sense out of any fight on this list.
Whoever loses between Cub Swanson and Dustin Poirier is going to be in the same divisional rut as Erik Koch is.
Koch would probably have a better chance against Poirier because he can keep him at bay with his reach and dominate the striking aspect of the fight, but watching him exchange with Swanson would be pretty sweet.
In any case, the outcome of the Swanson vs. Poirier fight, as well Koch's future battle with the loser, could very well dictate the UFC featherweight title picture heading into 2014.
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