Diego Sanchez May Go Back to Lightweight, Wants Fight with Anthony Pettis

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterApril 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS - MAY 28:  UFC fighter Diego Sanchez weighs in for his fight against UFC fighter John Hathaway at UFC 114: Rampage versus Rashad at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Diego Sanchez was once considered one of the hottest lightweight prospects in the world. But after a 2009 loss in a title fight with then-champion B.J. Penn, Sanchez made the decision to move back to welterweight.

It wasn't the best move in the world. Sanchez is undersized at 170 pounds, and his 2-2 record is evidence that he's not fighting in his optimal weight class.

That may change soon, however. Sanchez told MMAjunkie.com that he's considering a move back to lightweight:

I really try to lift weights, but the shoulder injury sort of set me back. As I heal up, my body’s going to get a little smaller, so I might just go down to 155.

The last time I was at 155, I was just a wreck. Mentally, I was still young and partying a lot, and I was still smoking weed. I was just a wild child. Now that I’m grounded and have my life together and am married, I’m just focused. So maybe 155 might be a better weight for me.

Sanchez even has an opponent in mind: Anthony Pettis. It's not the perfect matchup, at least when it comes to Zuffa matchmaking sensibilities. Joe Silva isn't a big fan of pairing one fighter coming off a win with another coming off a loss.

So while the fight may not make sense from a logical matchmaking standpoint, it sure makes sense from the "that fight would be awesome" standpoint. Pettis is perennially near a title shot, but he'll have to wait until at least late 2012 or early 2013 before he could secure a shot at the belt.

Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar will face off one more time late this summer, and the winner of the May fight between Jim Miller and Nate Diaz is expected to get the winner.

So that leaves Pettis in a familiar place. He's not going to wait around for a title shot, and so he'll take a fight in the meantime. He needs to face someone with a good track record, but he also needs to secure a win over a big name in order to bolster himself as a potential pay-per-view draw for the company.

Sanchez fits that bill. Sure, he's coming off the loss to Jake Ellenberger, but his performance in the fight (or at least in the third round of the fight) didn't detract from his overall career arc one iota. He's still a guy the fans love to watch because of his heart and his willingness to lay it all on the line. And he's had plenty of success at lightweight in the past.

Pettis needs to face someone like Sanchez, and Sanchez needs to rebound with a big win. The fight makes perfect sense on every level.