Erik Koch was originally slated to fight Josh Grispi at WEC 52 on Nov. 11 in Las Vegas. Grispi, however, was pulled from the bout to become the first challenger to the UFC featherweight championship currently held by Jose Aldo.
Koch (10-1) will now face WEC newcomer Francisco Rivera (5-0) instead. He has the recently announced UFC-WEC merger to thank.
When the merger was announced, Aldo immediately dropped his WEC featherweight champion designation to be named the first UFC featherweight champ. And with UFC 125, featuring a lightweight title bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, lacking a little star power, the Ultimate Fighting Championship decided to have Aldo defend the title on New Year’s Day against Grispi.
Koch is 2-1 in his WEC career, defeating Bendy Casimir in his most recent bout at WEC 49. He’ll be looking to get that all-important second straight victory as the UFC starts assimilating WEC fighters to the Octagon.
Rivera is a newcomer, but has an impressive undefeated 5-0 record with all the odds stacked in his favor. Being a last minute replacement and a newbie, there’s not too much pressure on his shoulders, although he’ll want to make a good first impression if he wants to continue on in the UFC.
WEC 52 features former featherweight champion Urijah Faber’s initial foray in the bantamweight division in a tough bout against Takeya Mizugaki.