A lightweight matchup between Daron Cruickshank and Erik Koch has the potential to produce plenty of fireworks at UFC Fight Night 40 this weekend. Both men are coming off impressive finishes in their last Octagon appearances.
Cruickshank has a flashy striking style and a dangerous, diverse kicking game that has produced eight knockouts in 14 career victories. He’s coming off a highlight-reel stoppage of Mike Rio at UFC on FOX 10. “The Detroit Superstar” finished the contest in round two with a wheel kick and follow-up strikes. He can definitely raise his stock in the lightweight division with a victory over the aggressive Koch. Cruickshank is 4-2 in his Octagon career with those other victories coming against Yves Edwards, Henry Martinez and Chris Tickle.
“New Breed” is looking to make a name for himself at the 155-pound weight class after beginning his UFC career as a featherweight. He made a favorable impression early on and was actually slated to face champion Jose Aldo on a pair of occasions. An injury to Aldo scuttled their planned title clash at UFC 149, and it was a Koch injury that denied him a title shot against the Brazilian at UFC 153.
Koch eventually decided to make the move up in weight after back-to-back losses to Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier. The 25-year-old was finding the weight cut a little too dramatic to continue campaigning as a 145-pounder. His lightweight debut was a highly successful one, as Koch recorded a first-round stoppage of Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 170. Koch owns notable career victories over Francisco Rivera and Raphael Assuncao, and while confident in the striking department he also has seven submission victories to his credit.
This bout truly has the potential to be a Fight of the Night candidate. The two fighters have combined for 20 finishes in their 28 career victories. The respective styles of Cruickshank and Koch should lead to a highly entertaining, fan-friendly affair in Cincinnati. The winner will be in line for some exciting future opportunities in the talent-rich division.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports