UFC Fight Night 40 Fight Breakdown: Erik Koch (-350) vs. Daron Cruickshank (+290)

Erik Koch One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 40 is a three-round lightweight bout between Erik “New Breed” Koch and Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank. The current betting line for the fight at Several Bookmakers lists Koch as a -350 favorite (bet $350 to win $100) while Cruickshank is a +290 underdog (bet $100 to win $290). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Koch at -270 and Cruickshank at +190, meaning there has been significant action on the favorite Koch. I agree with the money coming in on Koch as I’m picking him to win the fight. Here’s why. K0ch (14-3) recently made his UFC lightweight debut, defeating Rafaello Oliveira via first-round knockout at UFC 170. The 25-year old had previously competed as a featherweight in the Octagon, going 2-2 as a UFC 145er and going 3-1 as a 145er in the WEC prior to that, defeating opponents such as Raphael Assuncao, Jonathan Brookins, and Francisco Rivera during that timespan. Koch trains at Roufusport in Milwaukee alongside UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, and just like his training partner he has awesome striking to go along with a slick ground game. He also has decent takedown defence, not to mention a tremendous amount of experience fighting top-flight competition. Although Koch flamed out against Dustin Poirier and Ricardo Lamas, keep in mind those are two of the best 145ers in the world. And not only that, but Koch admitted he had to correct a vision problem after the Poirier fight with laser eye surgery, admitting he couldn’t see the punches coming against Poirier in a fight where he was knocked down twice. Still, he got the eye surgery and then straight-out KOed a tough fighter in Oliveira in his UFC 155lb debut with a beautiful left hand. A well-rounded and improving fighter, Koch is set to make waves at lightweight in the UFC and it all starts with a win over Cruickshank at UFC Fight Night 40. Cruickshank (14-4) competed on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter and has since carved out a solid career for himself in the UFC, going 4-2 overall with wins over Mike Rio, Henry Martinez, Yves Edwards, and Chris Tickle. The 28-year-old American is an awesome striker with lethal kick kicks and solid punches. He also has underrated wrestling. However, his chin is suspect and he’s been knocked out at multiple points in his career. Still, he’s definitely a solid lightweight fighter and with his leg kicks he can knock anyone in the world out. The problem with Cruickshank though is he’s often too content to stand back and counterstrike, which works against come opponents but which doesn’t work out against others, primarily long-range strikers like Martins, Luis Palomino and James Vick. And considering this matchup against Koch is very similar to those fights, there’s no wonder he’s a big dog in this spot. Although Cruickshank is a good striker, Koch is even better. Look for these two to engage in an exciting striking battle on the feet but at some point I do think Koch lands the knockout blow and puts Cruickshank away for his second-straight win as a lightweight. At -350 I like Koch as part of a two-team parlay as I expect him to decisively win this bout. I also like the UNDER 2.5 rounds total in this bout, which is cheaply priced at only -105. I think there’s a stoppage either way so I definitely see good value on that total.

Written by Adam Martin.

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