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Dominick Cruz calls Josh Koscheck's quick turnaround 'a great idea'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

When it was announced that Josh Koscheck would step in on short notice to face Erick Silva, many critics questioned the decision.

Koscheck was just submitted by Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184 on Feb. 28, a modified north-south choke that made Koscheck foam from the mouth. It was not a pretty sight, but according to Dominick Cruz, it's likely that it looked worse than it was and no real damage was done.

Cruz, who is working as an analyst on FOX Sports 1 this weekend, thinks Koscheck is making a smart move by coming back quickly to face Silva in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro.

"I think it's a great idea," Cruz told MMAFighting.com. "If you're a fighter and you look at the fight with Koscheck, how much damage did he take in that fight? None. He got choked. But really he was grinding the heck out of Ellenberger with takedowns and wrestling. He wasn't getting punched and he wasn't taking damage."

Koscheck was controlling the fight in the clinch and has a great background in wrestling. That's the main reason why Cruz is actually picking Koscheck to win a decision against Silva, though Koscheck is a +425 underdog in online sports books. Cruz believes defensive wrestling is a "hole" in Silva's game.

"Erick Silva is a guy that can move you up in the division super fast by beating him and he has no wrestling background," Cruz said. "If you're Koscheck, you love the fact that you can take this guy down and possibly keep him there for the whole fight."

Koscheck (17-9) was one of the best welterweights in the world for a long time, but has dropped four straight -- all to elite opponents: Ellenberger, Tyron Woodley, Robbie Lawler and Johny Hendricks. He jumped on the chance to face Silva when Ben Saunders went out with an injury, despite having four just three weeks ago.

Koscheck, 37, a former welterweight No. 1 contender, said before the Ellenberger fight that his sole reason to forego retirement was to get his hand raised. He'll attempt to do that again versus Silva.

"It is an interesting matchup and I like it, because Koscheck is a gamer," Cruz said. "He just came out and said, 'Screw it, let's fight. The guy doesn't have any wrestling background. I'm a nasty wrestler. I'm gonna take him down and I'm gonna grind him out.'"

Cruz, the former UFC bantamweight champion, is not downplaying Silva at all. He just believes his most clear path to victory is keeping things upright, where he can work his exciting, explosive striking. It'll be on Koscheck to suppress it.

"I think Koscheck has the style to do that," Cruz said. "The question is, does he have the gas tank, the will and the want to go through and fight a fight against a strong, scrappy, explosive, fast and hungry guy like Silva? I don't know. We'll find out."

Either way, Cruz believes it was a stroke of brilliance on Koscheck's part to come back this fast, especially given the opponent.

"Why not take a fight?" Cruz said. "You only got choked. Your body didn't get beat up. You're already in shape. And you know how to fight and you've got a guy who doesn't wrestle. Yes, you take this fight in a heartbeat."

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