The last time we saw Diego Sanchez compete in the lightweight division, he fought a gutsy twenty plus minutes against then-champion BJ Penn. Sanchez was determined the loser via doctor’s stoppage that night, but with Penn mired between the welterweight division and retirement it may be time for Sanchez to consider a return to 155 pounds.
Since the loss to Penn, Sanchez has earned a middling 2-2 record in at welterweight. That could easily be 1-3 had he not been given a gift in the form of a controversial judges’ decision against Martin Kampmann. While Sanchez always brings a ton of heart to any contest, his body type and style may bring him better results at lightweight.
The results against the new top-tier of the welterweight division have not been kind to Sanchez, where at lightweight he holds a victory over perennial fight of the night winner and upper-tier mainstay Clay Guida. The man known as “The Dream” is remaining open to such a move, telling the Fuel TV post-fight broadcast audience that a return to lightweight is “up in the air” and he would consider either division where he can have the “fights that propel him to the biggest stage”.
There are a number of interesting options for Sanchez at lightweight. His forward-first, cardio-heavy style of attack would mesh well against the aggressive nature of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. His tenacity and grappling skills would also be a great match-up for either participant in the upcoming Joe Lauzon-Anthony Pettis fight. Thinking outside the box, a trip to Strikeforce to take on their lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez could be just the thing to boost the stagnating promotion’s fortunes.
Then there’s a prospective bout with Nate Diaz. The bad vibes between Sanchez and Nat’e brother Nick do not appeared to have waned with time, as Sanchez recently told MMAWeekly radio “All you little people out there that are Nick Diaz groupies: I beat him then, I’ll beat him again….the guy is the most negative guy in the sport, and I would love to put a whooping on him again ”. With Nick likely sitting out the next year due to a positive marijuana test, putting Sanchez against the younger Diaz would not only keep the feud simmering, it would also give fans another likely fight of the night contender.
Diego Sanchez holds a special place within the UFC, stemming from his win on the original season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. His never say quit attitude and style of fighting have also endeared himself to the Zuffa hierarchy. But if Sanchez really is serious about wearing UFC gold and fighting on the biggest stage, moving back down to lightweight is his best option. Otherwise the same criticisms may follow him that followed Penn; that of a great fighter who may have been even better had he not insisted on fighting above his ideal weight class.
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