Thursday, October 28, 2010


Diego Sanchez is one of my favorite fighters in the UFC. From his time in The Ultimate Fighter 1, his odd personality and extreme aggression in the cage was, win or lose, always fun to behold. When he was thoroughly dominated by former Lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 107, however, something changed in  Diego, and it wasn't good. This was more than evident in his bout against John Hathaway at UFC 114. Diego looked clearly off his game and lacked his trademark aggressiveness. He lost via unanimous decision and the fighter who was previously known to, by far, have one of the toughest mental fortitudes in the organization seemed to have completely lost his edge. It seemed that BJ Penn took much more than a simple victory from Diego that night. 

I was extremely curious to see if this was still the case, and if Diego Sanchez had been robbed of his mental game for all time, or if he would come back stronger than before, as is expected of all UFC fighters after a loss. Either way, he faces a very tough opponent in Paulo Thiago, a BJJ black belt with strong kickboxing and a 13-2 record going into this fight. 
Thiago takes Sanchez for a ride


From the first bell, you can tell that Sanchez truly means business this time around. He comes out very aggressive with his striking and continues that way throughout much of the first round, but his attempts were mostly neutralized by Thiago's impressive footwork and grappling abilities, which he used to pin Sanchez on the fence and the mat several times. Thiago attempted several submissions and brutal knees in these positions, but Sanchez escaped all of them unharmed. 


The second round is mostly the same, but this time, it's Sanchez's turn to wind up on top on the ground and control Thiago. Thiago locks in a very tight and painful-looking Kimura, but Sanchez escapes from it beautifully and continues his dominance on the ground.

The middle of the second round is where the magic happens, though. Thiago lifts Sanchez up with both legs and throws him over his head. Not to be outdone, Sanchez lifts Thiago high up in the air and, screaming, runs to the other side of the cage and slams Thiago hard on the mat. Awesome stuff for sure. The Nightmare has officially returned! Now that's the Diego Sanchez we all want to see!

The fight continues on the ground and Sanchez gets Thiago's back. Though he continues his aggressiveness, Sanchez is unable to finish his opponent.


Sanchez doing his best Rampage impression
Thiago comes into the round looking exhausted from the pace that Sanchez threw in his face in the previous round. Sanchez easily takes him down and eventually takes his back, dominating much of the round in this position, but is, again, unable to finish. This is a testament to the genuine BJJ skills and heart that Thiago has, because, despite being clearly exhausted, he is still willing to fight and manages to escape Sanchez's submission attempts and survive his vicious strikes.

Sanchez wins the bout with a very convincing unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28).


This was, by far, my favorite fight of the night, and it seems that Dana White agrees with me, since he awarded it the Fight of the Night bonus! I am so genuinely happy that Diego got his groove back and is once again the raging piece of aggression known as The Nightmare (though he apparently doesn't want to be called that anymore) we all know and love!

Where does he go from here? Well, since he's had successes in both the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions, he might very well stay in both at this point, without favoring one over the other. Wherever and whoever he fights, though, one thing's for sure, I'll once again be excited to see this fighter put on a show again for the fans!

Check out my reviews for the rest of the card, and head on over to the official UFC website for more amazing photos of the event!

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