At 22 years of age, Roufusport featherweight Erik Koch (12-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is quickly placing himself into title contention.
Koch’s knockout victory over Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Raphael Assuncao in his UFC debut was nothing short of impressive.
Additionally, he’s on a three fight win streak that includes a knockout and submission victory during his final two bouts in the now defunct WEC. According to Koch, the success is a testament to his hard work and dedication.
“I was just talking about it yesterday,” Koch recently told BleacherReport.com. “When I say I’m training like a mad man (and) I’m always in the best shape of my life, I’m not joking man. Every chance, I try to push it just a little bit more and when I say ‘I’m doing more things each day,’ I’m not even joking. It’s my job, I take it very seriously, and this is all I do. So, I feel like if this is going to be your full-time job, then you need to treat it like one. I think the last couple fights have shown (that) it’s paid off. I didn’t even get to show my conditioning or anything like that just because skill kind of just took over. Other than that, you got to be ready anything and that’s why I train like an animal.
”I’m originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and that’s the Iowa work ethic, one of my favorite expressions is ‘Embrace the grind.’ Sometimes you just have to be crazier than the next guy, you have to think (that) all these guys in the UFC want the same thing, they want the same title, everybody’s shooting for the same goal, and no one’s resting. They’re training and they’re looking forward to the one day that they can get in the cage and beat you up and you have to do that exact same thing.”
Koch will put his countless hours of training to the test against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins (12-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at Ultimate Fight Night 25, which will be aired Saturday night on Spike TV.
The Wisconsin based fighter has the opportunity to take the spotlight off Brookins and place himself in the top-tier of featherweights in the organization.
“It’s definitely a good fight for me,” Koch said. “Because he is an Ultimate Fighter alumni, he won the show, and it’s just good that I get to get in there and get a spot on the main card. People are really going to see what I can do and it’s the same thing, it’s another fight and I’m going to go in there and do the exact same thing I do to everybody and that’s either submit them or knock them out. I don’t want to go to a decision, I want to finish it.”
Getting a spot on the aforementioned main card isn’t something that Koch was able to get in his organizational debut.
Of course, the fact that he debuted on a pay-per-view event didn’t help his chances. But with two vicious knockouts in back-to-back fights, Koch’s stock is high, and he’s excited to showcase his skills on national television.
“I’m pumped,” Koch said. “I haven’t been on the main card except for once (In the WEC). I’ve got on T.V., but that’s because of my performance. To be guaranteed a main card, it shows me a little respect and it shows that what I’m doing is paying off and it also gets to hype the fight a little more. People get to know the backstory and they already know what the card is and they know what fights are going to be on T.V. So, I’m already getting a lot more recognition because it’s on T.V. alone rather than being on a preliminary card. I’m excited and I’m loving it.”
Success against Brookins, who’s coming down from lightweight, likely places him in the upper echelon of fighters at 145 pounds, and it’s exactly where Koch believes that he belongs.
“Beating Brookins, I place myself in the top three,” Koch said. “I want to fight somebody like Jose Aldo, Kenny Florian, rematch with (Chad) Mendes, any of those fights. I want the tough fights, if I can really put a stamp on this and destroy Brookins then I think I deserve my shot. Not only am I on a tear, I’m really tearing people up, I’m giving knockouts, and if I can keep performances like that going then I definitely think I deserve it.”