In the land of featherweights, Jose Aldo stands as king, but one contender will be back in action in June that’s hoping to challenge him this year.
Erik Koch, who has gone 4-0 in his last four fights, was forced out of a potential No. 1 contender’s bout in February against Dustin Poirier due to an undisclosed injury suffered in training.
While the nature of the injury still hasn’t been revealed, Koch is on the fast track to recovery, and targeting an early summer return to begin his hunt for Aldo’s title once again.
“Just a training injury, required him to take a little bit of time off. He took the time off, got his body back healthy. When you train at Roufus Sport, they say they are Spartans, and he set a couple setbacks and he just needed to take some time to get healthy,” Koch’s manager Mike Roberts told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
“He should be back in there around June. I’ll be pretty excited for that.”
The February showdown with Poirier seemed pretty perfect in the timeline for the winner to get the next crack at Aldo later this year.
Currently, there isn’t a clearly defined No. 1 contender in the UFC’s featherweight division. Most point to Hatsu Hioki, who was successful at UFC 144 against Bart Palaszewski, but he sounded less than enthusiastic about jumping into a title shot against Aldo right away.
Koch’s last scheduled opponent, Dustin Poirier, has also said that he wants to take some time to continue his development before getting a crack at Aldo as well.
So that may leave Erik Koch who will return later this year and while he may not get a title shot in his first fight back, with a win he might be the most likely candidate to fill those shoes.
“I’m looking for him to be back in June with a big fight as well,” Roberts said. “Getting him right in there and getting a crack at Jose Aldo.”
Koch has started to get back into training at his camp under lead instructor Duke Roufus, and will hope to land a big fight for his return later this year.