UFC FN 40: Daron Cruickshank Hoping to Crack Top 10 in 2014, But Concedes Erik Koch is “Toughest Fight” so Far
By Kelsey Mowatt
After closing out 2013 with a loss to Adriano Martins, Daron Cruickshank is heading into UFC Fight Night 40 with some regained momentum, thanks to a memorable, stoppage win over Mike Rio in January. The victory not only showcased “The Detroit Superstar’s” dangerous striking arsenal, but it was the first step in what Cruickshank hopes is a breakout year.
“I’d like to have four fights, four undefeated fights, with four finishes for 2014,” Cruickshank relayed on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing his May 10th bout with Erik Koch. “I’d like to get within the top ten bracket of my weight class, and win a couple of bonuses.”
“I’m trying to pay off my student loans,” furthered Cruickshank. “So one good showing I can pay that $60,000 that I owe.”
Cruickshank has, understandably, been upfront about his desire to land a fight night bonus for some time now. After the 28 year-old put away Rio with a spinning wheel kick and follow up punches at UFC on FOX 10, Cruickshank appeared to be a frontrunner for “Knockout of the Night.” Ultimately, however, the bonus went to Donald Cerrone for his head kick KO of the aforementioned Martins.
“Yeah, I’m getting really close to getting that bonus; I think I’m due for one,” said Cruickshank, who has gone 4-2 to date in the UFC. “I’ve got to go out there, put on a great performance, and everything will happen.”
“I was so mad when I saw it,” added Cruickshank, when asked for his reaction upon viewing Cerrone’s highlight reel victory. “You got to be happy for the guy. I mean, I feel like he was losing and then he came back and knocked Martins out, so that’s good for him.”
Heading into his bout with Rio, Cruickshank relayed to Full Contact Fighter that his striking game would be the experienced wrestler’s undoing.
“I felt great,” said Cruickshank, when asked to assess the victory, which was the 14th of his career. “My head movement, my hand movement; he didn’t really know what to do with me on his feet. He actually came at me a lot more than I thought he was going to…I feel like Mike felt like he was on the chopping block and he had to go out and perform to the best that he’s done.”
In Koch, Cruickshank will face a rather different fighter in terms of approach and make-up. Not that long ago, Koch had worked his way into title contention at 145, by scoring wins over fighters like Raphael Assuncao and Francisco Rivera. Most recently, Koch’s stopping skills were on display once again, when he quickly took out lightweight Rafaello Oliveira.
“Erik’s obviously going to be the toughest fight I’ve had so far,” Cruickshank said about Koch, who after losing consecutive bouts to featherweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Ricardo Lamas, moved up to lightweight. “Comes from a great camp (Roufusport) and he had a bright future at 145. Was having trouble making weight so he’s moved up to 155. He had a great showing in his last fight…now he’s tested with me.”
UFC FN 40 will be hosted by Cincinnati’s U.S Bank Arena, and will feature a welterweight bout between Erik Silva and Matt Brown in the main event.