If there were any questions about BJ Penn having issues handling Diego Sanchez, they were answered last night.
In an exhibition of pure dominance, Penn controlled his bout with Sanchez, striking the Albuquerque native from all angles, never letting up for one moment.
Sanchez entered the arena with his trademark “Yes!” electrifying the crowd to where they follow him with similar chants. His typical war face was on display, combined with an intensity unmatched in all of MMA. “The Nightmare” walked into the cage looking as though he would cause some problems for his opponent, the champion. This was far from the case.
I never thought I would see Sanchez’s face turn from intensity to worry, but it happened last night.
The champion in Penn is one who defies all odds. Questions of his cardio rise before every fight, yet he goes into the championship rounds and thoroughly dominates lightweights as if they were half his size. Sanchez was no different from any other Penn opponents this night.
“The Prodigy” managed to consume any and all charisma glowing off the frame of Sanchez. With his light taken away, Sanchez’s dream of fighting for a title quickly turned into his own nightmare.
On the feet, Penn countered any combination Sanchez served up to offer, hitting him with consecutive punches that rattled the former state wrestling champ.
The first round consisted of Sanchez being rattled so many times, it could have been called 10-8 in favor of Penn.
Takedowns, which Sanchez happens to get out of all his opponents, were stopped by the ridiculous agility and dexterity of Penn. Sanchez would reach in for single and double legs, but was unable to put the 155-pound champ on the ground. Any clinches would result in quick flurries by Penn leading to a break between the two lightweights.
After four rounds, the fighters stood up for the fifth and final five-minute dance. BJ looked as though he was ready for five more rounds. Sanchez’s trademark war face was displayed again, but I think it was merely to sell a fifth round. After Penn solidified his position of aggressor, he pulled an uncharacteristic head kick out of his arsenal, landing it square on the forehead of Sanchez. Busted open and bloodied, the ref called time, leading to a stop of the fight.
Sanchez looked out of his league on Dec. 12, 2009. This begs the question, what is next for both of these fighters?
BJ Penn is, and should be, thrown into the argument of pound-for-pound best in the world. His utter dominance over the lightweight division has never been accomplished before.
Names will be tossed around as potential opponents for the lightweight king, but can we honestly take them seriously? Is there another lightweight on the UFC’s roster that can beat this man? If so, please let me know because I can’t think of one.
If I were to choose a next opponent for Penn, I would go overseas. Shinya Aoki gets a lot of acclaim in Japan for what he’s accomplished as a mixed martial artist. Penn gets as much, if not more, in the United States. A clash between these two fighters would be a world-wide blockbuster, but this match is merely on my Christmas wish list. I don’t know if Santa would be able to fit a fight that size down my chimney, or anyone else’s for that matter.
Sanchez’s fate now lies in the hands of UFC brass. He will remain an entertaining figure in the organization, but will likely never make it to the top of either the lightweight or welterweight divisions of the UFC. I can see a rematch with Kenny Florian coming to fruition in a few events. This fight makes a lot more sense to me than Sanchez/Penn ever did.
Now, the dust settles and wounds heal. Paychecks are handed out, as are some guaranteed medical suspensions. The tone left by the main event at UFC 107 is that of Diego Sanchez being out-classed by one of the greatest to ever strap on a pair of four-ounce gloves.
There is no need for Sanchez to put his head in the sand because he stood there, took a beating and didn’t give in before Tennessee Athletic Commission officials said he was done. All there is left to do is reflect and see where one can improve.
Fortunately for Diego Sanchez, the nightmare is over.