UFC 170 Fight Breakdown: Erik Koch (-400) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (+325)

Erik Koch One of the prelims at UFC 170 that I’m most intrigued about is a lightweight bout between Erik “New Breed” Koch and Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Koch as a -400 betting favorite (bet $400 to win $100) while Oliveira is a +325 underdog (bet $100 to win $325). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Koch at -400 and Oliveira at +280, meaning there hasn’t been a whole lot of line movement for the bout so far. To be honest I’m a little surprised the line hasn’t been pushed more in Koch’s favor, as I am picking for him to win this fight in impressive fashion. Here’s why. Koch (13-3) is a talented 25-year-old mixed martial artist fighting out of Team Roufusport in Milwaukee, Wis. He is known for his excellent precision striking as well as his solid submission game. 2-2 overall in the UFC, Koch is moving up from featherweight to lightweight after disappointing back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier and Ricardo Lamas. But keep in mind those are two of the best 145 pounders on the planet. I was surprised Koch is moving to 155, but he and his team must feel it’s the right call and I have to imagine it’s because Koch was having a hard time making 145. That, and he gets a fresh start to his career at 155. The owner of KO victories over highly-ranked bantamweights Raphael Assuncao and Francisco Rivera, Koch has a very impressive resume for a young fighter and, despite his recent struggles, I still believe in his talent. Oliveira (15-6) is barely clinging to his roster spot as he sports a poor 2-5 overall record in the Octagon. A BJJ black belt, Oliveira’s two wins in the UFC have come by decision and overall he hasn’t proven himself to be a UFC-calibre fighter. The reason he was kept on the roster is because he took his last fight, a beating at the legs of Edson Barboza, on short notice, something which earned him the respect of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. But Silva is doing him no favors here by matching him up against a talented youngster in Koch. Although the 32-year-old Oliveira will hold a slight size advantage over Koch, it’s not like he dwarfs him, so even though Koch is moving up to 155 I still think Oliveira is going to have a hard time getting takedowns on Koch. It’s possible he could smother Koch up against the fence, but as we saw in Koch’s bout against Jonathan Brookins he is very good at fighting in the clinch. Oliveira’s only real chance to win this fight is getting it to the ground, but I have a hard time believing he will be able to get it there against a fighter with solid takedown defence in Koch. I see Oliveira’s takedown attempts being thwarted by Koch, and on the feet Koch is a far superior striker. That’s why I see “New Breed” making a splash in his lightweight debut with a highlight-reel finish via either a punch or a head kick. I’m leaning towards head kick here, sometime in the second round. At -400, I do like Koch for parlays. I know that he’s moving up a weight class and Oliveira is a durable fighter, but Koch is a far superior striker and I don’t think Oliveira can get this fight to the ground so I don’t see how he wins it. I think Koch is going to win the fight via T/KO, but I could see a decision as well as Oliveira is tough so I’m not confident enough to recommend any props on this bout. I just really like the Koch moneyline for parlays here.

Written by Adam Martin.

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