All the attention surrounding UFC 114 has been focused on the main event grudge match between top light-heavyweight combatants Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The two have been bickering back and forth since Rampage beat Evans' friend and training partner Keith Jardine back at UFC 96.
But when the lights go down Saturday night in the MGM Garden Arena, it’s going to be the welterweight showdown between John Hathaway and TUF 1 winner Diego Sanchez that will produce the real fireworks of the evening.
My colleague, Bill Jackson , seems to believe that Sanchez will make a triumphant return to the welterweight division, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
So, for this edition of “Creature vs. Creature” I will break down why Hathaway will win the fight and take another step towards breaking into the upper echelon of the UFC welterweight division.
Don’t get me wrong here—Diego Sanchez is a tremendous fighter, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone in MMA who can set and maintain the pace that he is able to, but you have to wonder how much that loss to BJ Penn in December took out of him.
Penn not only dominated Sanchez; he broke his will. Sanchez couldn’t get anything going in that fight, and while he put up a valiant effort, Penn was also able to stop him for the first time in his career.
Even though Hathaway is only 22-years-old and has only been competing in MMA for just over three-and-a-half years, Sanchez does not hold a great technical advantage over him.
Sanchez, for the most part, has always been a pretty predictable fighter who lacks technical striking. He is going to push the pace and look to take the fight to the ground, where he can work his BJJ top game and ground and pound.
As long as Hathaway can defend most of Sanchez’s takedown attempts and scramble back to his feet when he is taken down, he should have no problem out-striking Sanchez on his feet.
The deciding factors in this fight are not going to be skill-related though. The winner of this fight will be the hungrier and tougher fighter—John Hathaway.
Before coming to MMA, Hathaway was an open-side flanker for his local rugby team, Hove RFC. While I am not a rugby expert in the least, I do know that those guys are some of the toughest, grittiest SOBs walking the planet. Sanchez showed a lot of heart and toughness against Penn, but I have a strong feeling that being that outclassed in that manner is going to have some lasting effects on his mindset moving forward.
Expect to see a great back and forth, high-energy battle between two very tough welterweights, but also expect to see Hathaway get the better of the exchanges and earn a unanimous decision victory in what will surely be the fight of the night.
For Bill Jackson’s take on why he believes that Sanchez will win, check out his latest piece here .
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