Diego Sanchez is making his leap to the 155 lb. division at UFC 95 this weekend and many expect him to become an immediate force as a lightweight.
His devastating ground and pound and emerging standup will pose serious problems for even the elite lightweights.
Sanchez, along with Forrest Griffin, is a winner of the original Ultimate Fighter television show, but his victory came in a far less memorable, far more dominating fashion over the now top lightweight contender Kenny Florian.
Sanchez came to the Ultimate Fighter House with amazingly aggressive ground skills, excellent cardio, a simplistic speaking style, and the ugliest standup in the house. I still contend that his nickname "The Nightmare" most likely came from his TUF coach Chuck Liddell commenting on the first boxing lesson he gave Sanchez.
Since then, Sanchez has been a contender in the welterweight division but he was on the outside looking in. His two career losses were against top welterweight contenders Josh Koscheck—a fighter Sanchez defeated on TUF show—and Jon Fitch. In both cases, Sanchez was simply overpowered.
That was then.
The UFC Lightweight division will be treated to the most complete Diego Sanchez seen to date. Sanchez still looks goofy trying to stand up, but the Luigi Fioravanti fight showed that Sanchez has learned at least how to stand up while hitting someone.
While improving standup is a positive, where Sanchez makes his purse money is on the ground in top position.
Few fighters are as devastating on the top as Sanchez is, and the size and strength he will enjoy on his smaller opponents at 155 lbs. will likely make Sanchez more able to end fights. This is something he struggled with as a welterweight.
Even the elite lightweights will have a hard time staying off their backs when faced with Sanchez's takedowns and his grappling is strong enough to roll with all but the most elite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters.
Sanchez will buzzsaw almost any lightweight besides BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Edgar, and maybe Kenny Florian, though their history shows that he is able to dominate “K-Flo.”
Sanchez is more than capable to defeat these elite UFC lightweights with his dominating strength and size. It would be extremely hard for Sherk or Edgar to outwrestle Sanchez, but I think BJ's amazingBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu would be able to keep "The Nightmare" at bay.
Against Joe Stevenson, the only way “Daddy” can win the fight is catching Sanchez in a guillotine, and there are far more ways Stevenson can lose this fight.
Sanchez will cruise through Stevenson and toward a quick title shot.