NEW ORLEANS – "Good habits formed at youth make all the difference."
That quote is from Aristotle, not Erik Koch
. But even if the 22-year-old featherweight has never heard it before, he seems to be putting that advice to good use.
Koch has made a good habit of first-round wins – three straight – and Knockout of the Night bonuses – two in a row – and he's of the belief that one more of each on Saturday will make all the difference that could get him a title shot.
Koch, one of the rising stars from Duke Roufus' Roufusport gym in Milwaukee, fights season 12 winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" Jonathan Brookins
on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 25
in New Orleans. And teeming with confidence, Koch said he's ready to have his name officially on the map.
"I think if I can do what I want and get another Knockout of the Night or (win) fast in the first round, I think I deserve (a title shot) right away," Koch said Thursday after a workout at the New Orleans Athletic Club.
Koch (12-1, 1-0 UFC) last lost in March 2010, a unanimous decision to current featherweight contender Chad Mendes
. Since then, he's been on a tear, closing out his WEC career with a pair of wins before making a big statement with a first-round knockout of Rafael Assuncao
in his UFC debut at UFC 128 in March.
Featherweight champ Jose Aldo
has, of course, been on the division's biggest streak. He defends his belt next month against Kenny Florian
, who will fight for just the second time in the weight class. But aside from Mendes, who is unbeaten at 11-0, Koch doesn't see why his name isn't right there at the top of the list.
"That would be four in a row in the first round – it's a hell of a streak," Koch said. "I don't know anyone else at 145 with a (winning) streak like that other than Chad, and I know he definitely deserves it."
The beauty of all of this, as Koch sees it, lies in the ambition with which he's attacking his goal of becoming a UFC champion. At only 22, one would think he has more than his fair share of time ahead of him in the sport. But that has made Koch all the hungrier.
"I definitely want a Top 3 spot (if I win) – Aldo for a title, or Florian, or the loser of that, or Mendes," Koch said. "I want one of those top fights – I want my title. And I want to do it while I'm still young. I want it by the end of 2012."
It's a lofty goal, but one that seems to suit Koch's personality.
"My confidence level has always been really high," he said, before also explaining that he sure is having fun with it. "It's hard work, and it's my job, but I'm fortunate that I love my job. It's a roller coaster ride, but I'm enjoying it."
Koch and Brookins fight on the main card of UFC Fight Night 25 at the Ernest R. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Saturday. The main card airs live on Spike TV at 9 p.m. Eastern.