Photo by Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com
Fringe Featherweight contenders Erik Koch and Ricardo Llamas will duke it out tonight (Jan. 26, 2013) on the UFC on FOX 6 main card, dueling to determine who gets one step closer to a possible 145-pound title shot. Will "New Breed" score a sensational finish or can "The Bully" impose his will and control the Octagon action? Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down.
In the relatively thin 145-pound Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ranks, Erik Koch and Ricardo Llamas square off tonight (Jan. 26, 2013) at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., in the kind of bout where a big statement could go a long way, particularly with the looming Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar "super" showdown at UFC 156 on Feb. 2, 2013.
Given their relatively modest current standing as contenders, a mere win on the UFC on FOX 6 televised main card probably won't be enough to secure a title shot, which is precisely how these bouts should be classified by the UFC. In what is basically a striker/submission artist vs. power wrestler mixed martial arts (MMA) match up, it's imperative that Koch establish his stand up and avoided getting grounded and ridden.
Llamas can do exactly that, and will probably have to to some extent, to notch the upset win.
Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC on FOX 6 Featherweight fight between Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Llamas below:
It's always a letdown to have a title shot fall through, and Koch had two fall through against Aldo in 2012, with injuries to each canceling the bouts. In a way, it was probably a blessing for him, as he -- along with virtually everyone else in the division (with the exception of Edgar) -- could use more experience before taking on the ultra-dangerous champ.
Koch fights very effectively as an aggressive southpaw, using strong kicks and sound kickboxing to punish mistakes and exploit openings.
Llamas, meanwhile, will have to find a way to close the gap without getting his head handed to him, as he's got limited stand up and that greatly lowers the percentage chance of getting in good position for a tie-up and takedown. If he's unable to get Koch down early, will frustration mount or will be able to adapt and find a way to dictate his kind of fight?
Conversely, for Koch, if he's planted on the mat, a key decision could be whether he tries to work for submissions, which is unlikely against the gifted Llamas, whose sub grappling credentials are good, or battle back to his feet? It's a key decision in a match up like this and the judges may well have to weight the merits of a few takedowns and limited top-position striking versus a few shots landed on the feet by the guy that's taken down.
Such fights almost always bring out the worst instincts in fans and often nobody's happy with the decision.
On a purely athletic level, you have to give Koch the edge. He's the more explosive guy on the feet and the kind of dynamic striker who can turn a fight in the blink of an eye much like stablemate Anthony Pettis. Look for a feeling-out process in the opening half of the first round before Koch starts finding his angles and scoring with precise combinations, using movement and angles to stifle Llamas' ability to set up grappling attacks.
Midway through the second, Llamas will begin scoring takedowns, but Koch's defensive guard will be enough to stymie him and warrant a stand up or two, and he'll do enough on the feet to keep the round close. In the third, both will go all-out and Koch will force dramatic exchanges on the tiring Llamas, delivering a finishing blow with a massive headkick to win via knockout.
Koch via knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FOX 6 main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 8 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 4:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst.