Erik Koch will now face Raphael Assuncao on March 19. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Erik Koch and Raphael Assuncao were both left without opponents this week when Cub Swanson and Manny Gamburyan pulled out of their respective bouts. Now, it appears Koch and Assuncao will instead square off against one another in their Octagon debuts at UFC 128 “Shogun vs. Jones.”
While not yet finalized, a source close to the matchup tells Sherdog.com that the featherweights have verbally agreed to meet at the event, which takes place March 19 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The change in matchmaking was first reported on Saturday by MMAWeekly.com.
Opponent aside, there will be no change for Assuncao, who was to face Gamburyan on the undercard of UFC 128 before Gamburyan sustained a back injury in training. Koch will have his fight pushed back two weeks, as the Roufusport product was slated to meet Swanson, who suffered an undisclosed impairment, at UFC Live 3 on March 3.
Assuncao snapped the first two-fight losing skid of his career in November, earning a unanimous decision against L.C. Davis in his final World Extreme Cagefighting appearance. Prior to the win, the 28-year-old Brazilian expat had been submitted by former WEC champion Urijah Faber and decisioned by top prospect Diego Nunes. Assuncao’s 16-3 ledger includes wins over Joe Lauzon and Jorge Masvidal.
The once-beaten Koch, 22, enters the UFC after closing out his own WEC stint with back-to-back wins. Since being defeated for the first time by Chad Mendes in March 2010, the “New Breed” has notched first-round stoppages against Bendy Casimir and Francisco Rivera, the latter of which earned “Knockout of the Night” honors at WEC 52. Koch has finished his opponents in all but two of his wins and has gone the distance in just three of 12 professional bouts.