The lightweight division has a lot of talent but few legitimate contenders. Jury wants to get into the mix at 155 pounds.
Defeating longtime UFC vet Sanchez will put him on the right track.
Jury was a member of the 15th season of The Ultimate Fighter. He did not make it to the finals, but the split-decision loss in the house does not appear on his official MMA record. He came off the show and competed at the finale with a first-round submission victory over Chris Saunders.
The win was needed but expected. He did what he was supposed to do against inferior competition and then launched an impressive UFC run. He defeated quality competition in Michael Johnson, Ramsey Nijem and Mike Ricci to move to 4-0 in the organization.
Sanchez is a step up for Jury in name recognition. A win at UFC 171 would mean more for him than any previous victory. He will garner new fans who tune in to see Sanchez, and he will take the TUF veteran's spot inside the Top 15.
The former lightweight title contender has not won a lightweight bout since 2009 (his 2013 win over Takanori Gomi was a catchweight bout after Sanchez failed to make weight). That fact is lost on most because perception is reality. Sanchez's propensity for exciting fights, and his history within the UFC, makes his recent non-success null.
Sanchez still carries an aura with the crowd. He is a fan favorite who many view as top competition.
Technically speaking, Jury is every bit Sanchez's equal, if he has not already surpassed him. He just needs to convince the UFC fans of that.
Defeating Sanchez will turn Jury into a player within the division. Michael Johnson, who lost to Jury in late 2012, is sitting just outside the Top 10 because of his wins over recognizable names like Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard.
That is all that Jury lacks. The marquee win.
UFC 171 is the chance for him to build his brand off Sanchez.
Dallas is in for a show with Jury vs. Sanchez. It will be a fun fight with a lot of action between two fighters who desperately want to raise their position in the lightweight division. Their backs are against the wall.
Sanchez will try to keep his reputation intact and rebuild himself as a contender, while Jury wants to show the public that he is a new name to become familiar with at 155.
His lightweight future may hinge on his performance in Dallas. He can make a statement by defeating Sanchez soundly, put his name alongside the other ranked lightweights and push for bigger fights in 2014.
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