It didn't take former The Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez long to introduce himself to a whole new crop of lightweights and call out one of the top contenders in the division.
After more than three years away from the 155-pound division, Sanchez decided to finally return there following a 2-2 run at welterweight between 2010 and 2012.
The last time Sanchez fought at lightweight, he went through two top contenders in Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida to earn a title shot at then-champion B.J. Penn. Ultimately, Sanchez lost to Penn, but now that he's back at lightweight he's wasting no time jumping right back in the thick of the bee's nest that is arguably the deepest weight class in the UFC.
Sanchez defeated former Pride champion Takanori Gomi by split decision at UFC on Fuel 8 in Japan over the weekend in a very closely contested fight. It wasn't an easy weekend for Sanchez, who first missed making weight on Friday, and then nearly fell to defeat in the fight against Gomi the following night.
“I feel fortunate to be off the injury list and back in the Octagon doing what I love. I don’t think this victory was given to me, I think I earned it," Sanchez told Fuel TV after his win at UFC on Fuel 8.
Now the former title contender is ready to begin a new rivalry because it didn't take him long to call out another top lightweight, but Sanchez managed to invoke a little family pride along the way.
“Nate Diaz," Sanchez answered when asked who he wants next. "I want to be the first one to say I beat both the Diaz brothers."
Sanchez fought and defeated Nick Diaz all the way back at The Ultimate Fighter season 2 finale in 2005. Now he's targeting Nick's little brother, who also happens to be one of the best lightweights in the world.
"I got the big brother, I want the little one next," said Sanchez with confidence. Currently, Nate Diaz is awaiting an April 20 showdown against former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson at UFC on Fox 7 in San Jose. If he gets past Thomson, a showdown with Sanchez could be a very intriguing matchup for Diaz and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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