Chad Mendes remained undefeated and Erik Koch won by quick TKO at WEC 52: Faber vs. Mizugaki on Thursday night in Las Vegas.
Erik Koch wasn’t sure he’d be fighting on the WEC 52 fight card when his original opponent, Josh Grispi, was pulled to face champion Jose Aldo for the now UFC featherweight title at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day.
Undefeated Francisco Rivera stepped up on two weeks notice, filling in for Grispi as Koch’s WEC 52 opponent. In his pre-fight promotional interview, Rivera predicted a first round knockout and was right, but wrong about who would be on the receiving end.
Koch used his reach well, establishing his jab early mixing in kicks to the body and legs. Koch landed a devastating left high kick, sending Rivera to the canvas 90 seconds into the fight, and followed up on the ground with punches to finish the WEC newcomer at 1:36 of the first round.
Koch said the fight went “perfect” following the technical knockout victory, but quickly thanked Rivera for accepting the fight.
“I’ve got to give it to Francisco. He took it on two weeks notice, and I didn’t know if I was going to have a fight or not, so to him and his camp, thank you. You guys are awesome,” said Koch in his post-fight interview. “I had a lot of training, training for Grispi, and I wanted to fight, so I’m glad he stepped up.”
Koch took the opportunity on the microphone to lobby for the Knockout of the Night award and bonus money.
“I wanted a bonus. Hopefully I get a bonus for this,” said the Roufusport trained fighter. “I thought it was a pretty good knockout.”
Koch did get the knockout bonus, which amounted to an extra $10,000 in his pocket.
Up and comer turned contender Chad Mendes remained undefeated, beating Javier Vazquez by unanimous decision in featherweight action at WEC 52.
Mendes, a former two-time All-American NCAA wrestler showed improved striking, but it was his bread-and-butter wrestling base that proved too much for Vazquez.
Mendes took Vazquez down early and went into the Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt’s dangerous guard game. In the opening round, Vazquez was active off his back, working rubber guard, and largely neutralizing Mendes’ ability to do damage from top position.
Mendes opened up with his strikes in the second round, landing a flying knee and punch combination that had Vazquez pulling guard.
By the final round Mendes had taken over the fight with his striking, takedowns, and ground and pound. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Mendes.
Mendes improved his record to 9-0 (4-0 in the WEC) and elevated his status in the featherweight division from up and comer to contender.