Before I begin with this fight preview, let me list the three featherweights SILVA has estimated to be “elite” fighters in the UFC.
- Chad Mendes – 52.33
- Jose Aldo – 48.14
- Erik Koch – 44.82
For the rest of this preview to make sense, you need to be aware that SILVA considers Koch to be the third-best featherweight fighter in the world. Now, sometimes I get this fantasy that either somebody working for the UFC reads my stuff, and puts together fights based on my numbers and analysis, or that I’ve somehow stumbled upon the magic formula that the UFC uses. When Johny Hendricks is my #3 rated welterweight in the UFC, and then I see it announced that he’s been chosen to fight Jon Fitch, it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I’m onto something special.
Then fights like Erik Koch vs. Jonathan Brookins are put together, and I get reminded that I’m just some random MMA blogger on the internet and the UFC probably thinks that SILVA is simply the proper way to write Anderson Silva’s name, because he deserves all caps. Now, I have a soft spot for Jonathan Brookins. The very first thing I tested the first version of SILVA on was the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter, where my original ranking was:
- Cody McKenzie
- Jeff Lentz
- Jonathan Brookins
McKenzie gave me a great moment when he dispatched first pick Marc Stevens in seconds, but then he gassed out badly and lost by TKO to Nam Phan. Jeff Lentz started well against Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres, but then lost by triangle choke, and there’s really no excuse for my #2 guy losing to Alex Caceres. But Jonathan Brookins… Jonathan Brookins won the entire show, and motivated me to keep working on my system. Of course, SILVA 1.0 had Michael Johnson #1 and Jonathan Brookins #2, so there was definitely improvement there, but at least I had some success to work with before that.
Here’s the thing: this doesn’t make Brookins a great fighter or some sort of “prospect.” Brookins was hit very hard by Johnson, and was probably out-struck by Kyle Watson, and as Brookins has been fighting professionally five years now, there’s not much hope for Brookins suddenly becoming an adequate striker.
That’s bad news about the Duke Roufus trained Erik Koch. Koch last defeated solid veteran Raphael Assuncao by sudden first-round KO at UFC 128, which came after a head kick TKO win over Francisco Rivera. Now, I was surprised to see that Koch only has three TKO wins, but that’s because Koch has won seven fights by submission. So Koch is far from just a striker: he’s a truly well-rounded mixed martial artist who’s dangerous both standing and on the ground.
Brookins needs to be the better grappler if he’s going to win this fight, as I just don’t see him winning a striking battle against Koch. Brookins showed against Michael Johnson that he’s capable of taking punishment and working the ground game to a victory, but Koch isn’t likely to get exhausted the same way that Johnson did.
SILVA PREDICTION: ERIK KOCH (44.82) OVER JONATHAN BROOKINS (23.26)
The ultimate difference between these fighters is simply their respective records. Now, you can say that one of Brookins’s losses is to Jose Aldo, but Koch’s ONLY loss is to Chad Mendes. Meanwhile, eight of Koch’s 12 wins are against fighters rated as above-average by Victory Score, and a ninth was against T.J. O’Brien, who for all of his flaws did at least eventually get himself invited to the UFC. Jonathan Brookins just doesn’t compare to Erik Koch, and quite frankly, I’m surprised that Koch is only a 2-1 favorite here. I expect Koch to win in emphatic fashion.