UFC featherweight Erik “New Breed” Koch (13-1, MMA) is UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo’s (21-1, MMA) next challenger. Koch will take on Aldo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 13 at UFC 153. The 23 year-old fighting out of Roufusport told MMA Fight Corner on Saturday, he didn’t hesitate when it came to taking the opportunity to fight Aldo.
“I jumped right into it man. I’ve been wanting to fight him for 3 or 4 years now, ever since I was in the WEC. So for me, it was no problem,” a hyped Koch said. “We were actually deciding what our next move was going to be, who I was going to fight, and my manager was gonna make the call and we were thinking maybe Hioki because he’d turned down the fight and I pretty much wanted whoever would get me the closest step to Aldo. And they said, ‘How about Aldo. Nobody wants to fight him. You want to fight him?’ You’re an idiot if you turn down a title fight. I jumped right on it. We fight in the UFC man. If you’re not looking to be the best and be a champion in the UFC, then I don’t know what you’re doing there.” Exclamation point.
Koch explained those who train with Duke Roufus, call the camp “Sparta”. When he spoke about the current UFC featherweight champ, Koch was fired up enough to lead 300 spartans into war. “I can’t tell you how pumped I am man. It’s one of those things, just with it getting rescheduled. I was supposed to fight last weekend. I haven’t stopped training camp, I’m still busting my ass. It makes me more excited to get in there. I’m just ready to fight man. It’s been too long. I’m just ready to get in there and perform. I want my title man.”
It’s easy to see why Koch is pumped. It’s been over nine months since he last fought. Koch defeated The Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner, Jonathan Brookins, in September 2011. Following that win, Koch had to withdraw from fighting Dustin Poirier at UFC 143 in February due to injury. Then, his title shot was put on hold when Aldo suffered a thigh injury. The two were supposed to fight on UFC 149’s card in Calgary last week. By time he faces Aldo, it’ll be 13 months since he last fought. The New Breed insisted the time off isn’t phasing him in the least and he doesn’t expect to suffer from “ring rust”.
“I know guys say it all the time, the best shape of their life, but really I feel the best. I feel the best I ever have, mentally, physically. All my injuries are gone. I feel 100 percent ready to go. I may have not fought in the Octagon by that time for a year, but I’m fighting everyday.”
There’s no doubt he’ll be prepared. Roufusport is home to some of the UFC’s toughest fighters including Alan Belcher and Anthony Pettis. He says having men of that caliber around him, has kept him up on his game. “We’re good. We’re aggressive strikers. We give the fans what they want to see, but a lot of that happens behind the walls of Roufusport. We beat each other up man.” As for renowned head coach Duke Roufus, Koch said he keeps him on track mentally and physically. “He’s very enthusiastic about his job and what he does,” Koch said. “So, he puts us through hell, but that’s why we produce the fighters that we do and that’s why we do so well.”
When Koch started fighting MMA professionally, he started off hot winning his first nine fights. The streak stopped when he met Chad Mendes in the WEC and suffered the first and only loss in his career. Chad was the last man to face Aldo and lost. But just because Koch lost to Mendes who lost Aldo, Koch doesn’t think that’s any indicator of what will happen in his fight vs Aldo. “It was a frustrating loss, but I did all the damage. I’m a totally different fighter, I was a kid when I fought Chad. I’m a completely different fighter now and I just think stylistically I’m the guy to beat Aldo. I think I got the size, I got the power, I got the speed and I’m not afraid of him. I think the biggest thing people have with Aldo is they go in there afraid of him. You can tell they fight him to survive. They don’t fight him to take him out. I’m going to fight him to take him out.”
Koch did admit his loss to Chad is a blemish on his record he wants redemption for soon.
When the fight goes down in Brazil, Koch said there’s nothing like Brazilian fans. “It’s still new that the UFC is there. They go crazy. But you know what, whether they’re booing or chanting or soccer chanting, you know, I’ll love it man. Just all the energy, there’s going to be a bunch of people in that stadium, it’s going to be unreal.”
Even if he completely dismantles Aldo on his hometurf, in front of his own people, he’s ready to take on any jeering that comes his way. “It’s one of those things, how bad do you want that title,” he stated. “Very rarely do you get to pick how this goes down. As a fighter you gotta be ready to go and you gotta take your opportunities. And for me, I’m not worried about the crowd. I’m not going to Brazil like ‘oh man this crowd is gonna be scary.’ I’m going into a cage and fighting a champion. Why would I be scared about the crowd? I’m gonna be focused on what I got to do, and that’s taking Aldo out.”
Before Koch signed off of the show, he reminded us there will be a new UFC Featherweight Champion come October. Beast mode is on.