Erik Koch, UFC Fight Night 40's 'Fighter to Watch' on FOX Sports 1

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an impressive victory in his first fight as a UFC lightweight, Erik Koch looks to move farther up the division as he takes on Daron Cruickshank at UFN 40.

In Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it is fairly well known that trying to ply your trade in the lighter weight classes is no easy task. When a young prospect finally cracks the top of those divisions, he's thrown into a shark tank of highly skilled athletes, all with plenty of experience and ability.

Maybe that is what held back Erik Koch -- formerly a UFC featherweight -- whose last two fights in that division were decisive losses.

At age 25, having been in the cage with fighters such as Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier is pretty damn impressive ... if not a little overwhelming. Following consecutive losses to the latter two, Koch decided it was time to seek success elsewhere -- 155 pounds.

His decision showed immediate results as "New Breed" made quick work of Rafaello Oliveira, finishing him via technical knockout not even two minutes into their UFC 170 bout. The performance was definitely impressive, begging the question: Is Koch better suited to fight as a lightweight?

Admittedly, Oliveira is not a great representative for the notoriously talent-packed division, but he is still a very game fighter and Koch finished him very impressively.

When Koch steps into the Octagon against Daron Cruickshank at UFC Fight Night 40, which takes place at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, later this evening (Sat., May 10, 2014), we'll get to see what he's really made of. Cruickshank is not only a talented, savvy striker, he is also a more diverse striker than Koch, something the Roufusport-trained fighter will not be accustomed to.

Indeed, Cruickshank is a quick, smart fighter, who definitely put pressure on Koch to perform at his very best.

Koch's new beginning at lightweight has a chance to become even more fruitful later tonight, but a talented opponent stands in his way. Cruickshank will be a good test for Koch, and if he can move past him, a fight with a fringe Top 15 fighter could be on the cards in the near future.

Despite not reaching the pinnacle of UFC's 145-pound division, Koch has a chance to make a name for himself as a lightweight, and it all starts with his fight against Cruickshank.

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