Two of the top-ranked featherweights on the planet were put on the big stage last night (Jan. 26, 2013) as Ricardo Lamas battled Erik Koch in the opening bout of the UFC on Fox 6 main card in Chicago, Illinois.
Both fighters were competing in their backyards as Lamas hailed from Chicago while Koch competes out of neighboring Milwaukee, but it was Lamas who would walk away leaving his hometown fans elated.
Early on, both men were looking to get comfortable on their feet as each fighter traded flashy kicking attacks that came up short in a feeling-out process.
Koch seemed to be gaining a slight edge in the striking department, as he should be considering he entered the bout as the most accomplished stand-up fighter, and Lamas wisely began implementing his other tools, closing the distance in the clinch and working for takedowns.
While Lamas couldn't take Koch down and keep him there, he was doing enough in terms of keeping Koch on the defensive and at least briefly putting him on the canvas for his aggression to give him the first frame.
In the second round, Koch seemed to be beginning to settle in, pawing with his right jab, throwing a few leg kicks and even winning the clinch battle while mixing in a few knees, but then he made a huge blunder.
As Lamas attempted a leg kick, he slipped and briefly dropped to the canvas. Koch immediately took it upon himself to pounce on him and try to secure top position on the ground, only to immediately find himself on his back after Lamas reversed the position.
This was exactly what Koch didn't want, as he'd fought tooth and nail to stay on his feet relatively successfully in the first round.
Instead of trying to get back to his feet, Koch stayed on his back, working some high guard but Lamas wisely stacked him up and began working for some ground and pound. Once he was properly postured up, the first left elbow flew from "The Bully" and it connected. His next elbow would open up a HUGE gash on Koch's face near his eye and after it landed, the end of the fight was a foregone conclusion.
With Koch bleeding heavily, Lamas poured it on, dropping repeated right elbows and to make sure the last one connected, he held Koch's head down with his left hand and dropped the hammer from the right, just busting Koch up and forcing the referee to put a halt to the action.
For Erik Koch, he was actually doing pretty well in this fight. He looked to finally be getting his range properly gauged and was beginning to utilize his reach effectively when he saw Lamas slip and got way too exuberant by attempting to pounce on him. He made matters worse by not immediately trying to get back to his feet and instead attempting to use his guard. The second Lamas landed the big elbow, the fight was over, but Koch hung in for a few more shots anyways. This was simply a case of a young fighter making a mistake that he'll (hopefully) learn from in future bouts.
Koch is still immensely talented so he shouldn't be given a huge step down in competition. Next up for him should be either Hatsu Hioki, Diego Nunes or perhaps the upcoming loser of the Cub Swanson vs Dustin Poirier fight.
For Ricardo Lamas, he used all of his tools well in this bout. Despite being outclassed on paper, he actually held his own in the striking department, particularly with his diverse kicking attack to keep Koch honest. While he wasn't able to utilize his wrestling to take Koch down and keep him there in the first round, he did disrupt the "New Breed" enough to fluster him a bit. When he finally did luck into a situation where Koch gave him an opportunity to get on top and drop some ground and pound, he took full advantage and made every single shot he threw count. That was one of the most devastating displays of punching and elbowing from inside someone's guard I've ever seen.
In all honesty, after defeating Hioki, Swanson and now Koch, Lamas deserves a shot at the upcoming Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar winner for the UFC featherweight title. If for some reason he has to wait, a potential fight against Dennis Siver or maybe Clay Guida would pass the time.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was this one of the most violent finishes to a fight you've ever seen? Did Lamas do enough to cement himself as the potential number one featherweight contender in your eyes?