by Matt Lo Cascio
Chicago’s Ric Lamas will fight Erik Koch at the United Center when the UFC on FOX comes back to town on January 26. He’ll be fighting on national TV in his hometown, and the winner of the fight should get a shot at the UFC 145 lb. title.
That seems like an inordinate amount of pressure, but Lamas actually welcomes all those challenges.
“The more support and familiar faces I have around me, the more comfortable I feel. I can’t wait to fight at home in front of all my family and friends,” Lamas said.
Having friends and family around being a comfort makes sense, but what about the title implications of the bout, and being on national TV for the first time?
“I don’t feel any more or any less pressure because in this business EVERY fight is the most important fight of your life,” Lamas said.
Most fighters will say things like this, but you actually believe it when Lamas says it. If you’ve seen him fight, you know Lamas is one of the coolest cats in MMA. Watch him as he enters the cage and he’ll likely have the same expression that he would have going to get the morning paper.
Lamas was an All-American wrestler at Division III Elmhurst College, and he’s worked his way up from fighting locally at Ironheart Crown to the WEC and now the UFC, where he has yet to lose in three fights.
He’s made big statements in all three of those fights. He stopped Matt Grice via TKO in the first round, followed that up by choking out Cub Swanson and then beat heralded contender Hatsu Hioki by unanimous decision in June.
Next up is Duke Roufus-trained Erik Koch, a lanky, sensational striker that has been defeated just once. That ought to give Lamas cause for concern, right?
“There is nothing that I would say concerns me about Erik Koch,” Lamas said. “He’s just another tough opponent. At this level everyone is a tough opponent. All I can do is prepare the best I can and perform well on fight night.”
Fellow Chicagoan Clay Guida will fight Hatsu Hioki on the same card in January. Having just defeated Hioki, Lamas was asked what advice he would give to Guida, who will be making his featherweight debut.
“I would tell him not to hesitate or give Hioki too much respect,” Lamas said.
You don’t get to the top of your division without being well-rounded, but Lamas is best known for his wrestling pedigree. The main criticism of fighters in MMA these days is that “blanket wrestlers” are boring and that they simply try to win on points. Lamas has a message for fans and fighters that don’t like that style.
“There are some wrestlers who are really exciting fighters to watch. There are also some wrestlers who use their wrestling to win fights, or lay and pray as people call it,” Lamas said. “I don’t hold anything against any fighter who has to do what they have to do to win. If you don’t want someone laying on you for three rounds then learn how to GET UP! Or learn how to defend a takedown. People are quick to blame the wrestler but if the other guy trained like he should then he should be able to stop a takedown.”
We’ll likely find out if Koch can stop a Lamas takedown early in their fight. Expect Lamas to get inside and try to get Koch to the ground. Chad Mendes used that style in Koch’s only defeat, and Koch would love to stay on the outside and use his range and striking to keep Lamas at bay.
The UFC on FOX card will also feature several other Chicago-area fighters. Chicago police officer Mike Russow will fight Shawn Jordan, and Team Curran’s Mike Stumpf will take on Pascal Krauss.
Demetrious Johnson will defend his flyweight title against John Dodson, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will fight Glover Texiera, in what could be Rampage’s last UFC fight.