Both Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank and Erik “New Breed” Koch came into this fight looking for their second win in a row. Koch had impressively stopped Rafello Oliveira in the first round at UFC 170. While Cruickshank had finished Mike Rio at UFC on FOX 10. He was able to start a two fight win streak with stoppage of Koch in the first round.
This was the best Cruickshank has looked in the UFC against his toughest opponent during that time. Koch came into the fight ranked 15th in the UFC. His only losses in the octagon coming into this fight were against Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier. Cruickshank now joins that group and should crack the top 15.
Cruickshank is a very unorthodox striker who seems to really be finding his comfort zone in the octagon. His striking background is very varied. According his bio on the UFC site, his mom was a professional kickboxer and his dad is a mixed martial artist. Cruickshank himself is a black belt in Taekwondo.
You see the mixture of the different disciplines inside of the octagon with his striking. He will easily switch stances and has a large arsenal of strikes to choose from. You saw that in this short fight with Koch.
Koch is a very talented and tough striker himself. He is train by Duke Roufus and has the Pettis brothers and others for sparring partners. Despite that working with all of that talent he had trouble dealing with Cruickshank in this fight. The numbers back this up as Cruickshank landed more strikes than Koch attempted 26 to 21. Koch only landed 6 of those 21 attempted strikes.
It was the movement of Cruickshank and his ability to throw a strike from anywhere at anytime. In the opening minute of the fight, Koch faked a jab and threw a left hook. Cruickshank ducked to avoid the faked jab, then moved back to avoid the left and the right hand that followed that. It left him slightly turned towards Koch when he threw a side kick to the chest. It was not a powerful kick but it created space for Cruickshank to get away from the cage.
As they moved around the cage faking and feinting trying to create an opening Cruickshank saw everything that Koch tried to throw. He moved away to avoid the low kick and got both hands up to easily block a head kick from Koch. He also consistently moved to his left away from the southpaw Koch’s power lefthand and kick.
This is something that many fighters struggle with when they face a southpaw. Their natural tendency is to circle and move the other way. They will often fall into this even if they start out moving the right way. Cruickshank moves well and comfortably in both directions.
Twice in the round Cruickshank threw three punches as he came forward forcing Koch to retreat and raise his hands, Cruickshank would then finish with a right kick to the body. The first time the kick landed but not solidly. The second one landed cleanly.
Cruickshank is able to do this because he stays balanced when he comes forward on the attack and his ability to throw strikes in either stance. This allows him to step forward but always be in position to throw the right strike. He was coming forward when he landed the head kick that sent Koch down.
First Cruickshank from orthodox stance ducked down and threw a right hand feint to the body. He stepped forward as he threw it planting in the lead left foot and bringing the right leg up towards Koch’s head. He blocked it but barely. Cruickshank brought the right leg down and threw a right hand towards the head. It did not land but it moved Koch back a step and right into the left head kick that sent him down. On the ground Cruickshank landed more than enough strikes to finish the fight.
It was the best win of Cruickshank’s in the UFC. Dana White promised him a tougher test in his next fight and was very happy with Cruickshank’s performance in the win. Who should he fight next is an easy one.
Most of the top featherweight fighters are busy and it would be easy to just go with Nik Lentz who also won tonight. Instead, Lentz should fight Clay Guida which would have FOTY potential. The better fight for Cruickshank would be Dennis Bermudez. They would test each other and the winner would move up and into the title discussion.
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