Top featherweight prospect Erik Koch will make his first Octagon appearance in more than a year when he squares off with Ricardo Lamas at UFC 155.
The promotion announced the pairing on Monday, as well as two other bouts for the Dec. 29 card, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Additionally, Brad Pickett will lock horns with Eddie Wineland at bantamweight, while Erik Perez meets Byron Bloodworth in a preliminary 135-pound matchup. The event is headlined by a heavyweight title tilt between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez.
Koch was expected to challenge reigning 145-pound kingpin Jose Aldo earlier this year, but injuries nixed potential bouts between the two featherweights at UFC 149 and UFC 153. The 24-year-old Roufusport product is unbeaten in two Octagon appearances, with victories against Raphael Assuncao and Jonathan Brookins in 2011.
A six-time WEC veteran, Lamas announced himself as a major player in the division with a unanimous decision victory over the world-ranked Hatsu Hioki in June. The Top Notch Fitness representative also owns triumphs against Matt Grice and Cub Swanson during his UFC tenure.
Pickett has competed twice thus far in 2012, submitting Damacio Page with a rear-naked choke in April before knocking out Yves Jabouin in the first round at UFC on Fuel TV 5 last month. “One Punch” has won 12 of his last 14 bouts, with other notable victories against Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar.
Wineland had a rough introduction to the UFC, dropping unanimous verdicts to top contenders Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez in his first two Octagon outings. The Indiana native rebounded this past June, however, when he knocked out Scott Jorgensen in the second round at UFC on FX 3.
Perez earned first-round victories over John Albert and Ken Stone in his first two UFC bouts. The 22-year-old Jackson’s MMA representative will carry a seven-fight winning streak into his meeting with Bloodworth, who hasn’t competed since falling to Mike Easton in his Octagon debut more than a year ago.