Longtime UFC fighter Diego Sanchez has been through some wars, losing a few but winning most. He’s also regarded for putting on some of the most exciting bouts in the UFC, like his battles against Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger. While those fights were at 170, Sanchez has made the return to lightweight and slates his return for this August at UFC 164.
Apparently, he’s going for the belt at 155, because he doesn’t think that champion Ben Henderson is quote all that he’s cracked up to be. Sanchez recently sat down with MMA Junkie Radio to address how he feels about the current lightweight landscape:
"After watching Benson Henderson's performance against Gilbert Melendez, I must say, I wasn't impressed. I see a lot of holes in his game, and I feel like that belt's there for the taking. I see a man who is growing in his martial arts experience. A great fighter, but I see holes in his game, and I really felt he lost that fight to Gilbert."
Indeed Henderson’s win over Melendez was controversial, and it marked two split decisions in three title defenses for Henderson, who’s yet to finish an opponent in the UFC. This is quite the strange paradigm, as he has been undefeated while rising to the role of champion. But Sanchez looks for things that the casual necessarily might not see, noting:
"He's strong, but in the Gilbert fight, he didn't try to do one takedown the whole fight, which I think a champion would see, 'I'm not dominating this fight in the standup, so let's work for something else. Let's try to change it up and at least get some points."
“At least try to win some rounds more convincingly, the way he did with Jim Miller. But he was just very content in his striking style and throwing the kicks. I saw it as a mediocre performance, and I think I can get in there and beat this guy."
A new point of view from a man who’s been there and seen all the angles from inside the UFC Octagon. Sanchez has had mixed results at lightweight, and made his return to the division with a controversial split decision win of his own when he beat Takanori Gomi at UFC on Fuel TV 8. Sanchez missed weight by two lbs. for that fight, but is focused on making weight and challenging for the title.
There’s no argument that Diego Sanchez is a true warrior and one of the grittiest fighters the UFC has ever seen. Does he have enough gas left in the tank to make it to the top and fight Ben Henderson for the UFC Lightweight Championship?