This Saturday night (March 15, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Diego Sanchez and Myles Jury will wage war on the main card of UFC 171, airing live on pay-per-view (PPV) from American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.
The No. 15-ranked Sanchez was last seen losing a unanimous decision to No. 2-ranked Gilbert Melendez at UFC 166 in a "Fight of the Year"-winning affair. Sanchez nearly had "El Nino" out for the count after a huge third round uppercut, but instead chose to go for an ill-fated submission.
With seven "Fight of the Night" bonuses to his name, Sanchez is famous for inciting the most thrilling wars the Octagon has ever seen. However, he's lost two out of his last three mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, with his only win being a very controversial decision over former Pride champion Takanori Gomi. Sanchez is going to have to get on a win streak if he ever wants to see his "Dream" come to fruition.
He'll have no easy task in the undefeated Jury. "Fury" was last seen winning a split decision over Mike Ricci at UFC 165. The Alliance MMA-trained product knows that Sanchez is potentially a huge stepping-stone for him, and he wants nothing more than to advance to the next level.
He definitely has all the skills to do so.
Coupled with Sanchez' propensity for leaving it all in the Octagon, we could have quite the brawl on our hands come Saturday night. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Sanchez vs. Jury:
Record: 24-6 overall, 13-6 UFC
Key Wins: Nick Diaz (TUF 2 Finale), Clay Guida (TUF 9 Finale), Martin Kampmann (UFC Live 3)
Key Losses: Gilbert Melendez (UFC 166), Jake Ellenberger (UFC on Fuel TV 1), B.J. Penn (UFC 107), Jon Fitch (UFC 76)
Keys to Victory: The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 winner Sanchez is regarded as one of the toughest fighters to ever step into the cage. Win or lose, he always leaves his heart in the Octagon. Problem is, that style hasn't worked out all that well for him as of late.
To get back into the win column in Dallas, Sanchez may have to dial down his all-out attitude. Jury is a skilled kickboxer in addition to owning a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so Sanchez has to be on point at all times.
With five out of Sanchez' six losses coming on the judges' scorecards, this fight could end up going the distance. That will play into "Dream's" hands, as he tends to come on strong towards the end of his fights.
But, at some point he'll likely throw caution to the wind and attempt to entice Jury into a brawl. If "Fury" accepts the challenge, Sanchez obviously has the huge experience advantage in that department.
However, Jury is likely too smart for that.
On the ground, Sanchez has never tapped out. Jury is still very dangerous, and could control "Dream" on the ground to steal a round or two.
This is going to be a very tough test for the longtime UFC veteran.
Record: 13- overall, 4-0 UFC
Key Wins: Michael Johnson (UFC 155), Mike Ricci (UFC 165)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: TUF 13 and 15 veteran Jury is an under-the-radar force in the talented UFC lightweight division. He's a well-rounded young fighter with dangerous skills and a very positive attitude to match.
He was the last man to defeat surging Michael Johnson, a huge testament to his readiness to be a contender. Sanchez will be a true test of that, and Jury obviously has to come prepared to win a war.
On paper, you'd think that Sanchez would have the huge experience edge over the 25-year-old Jury, but "Fury" got his start back in 2005. Sanchez has many more fights, however, so Jury can't let the grand stage affect him.
The hungry young combatant knows what is at stake. He'll be looking to pick apart the elder Sanchez with a high torrent of accurate shots from the outside. Jury should maintain a speed advantage over the slugging style of Sanchez.
His gameplan will almost definitely be to avoid the slugfest, and taking the fight to the ground is an excellent way to do just that. Jury has own system of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and has picked up six of his 13 wins by way of submission. He probably won't submit the ultra-resilient Sanchez, so he has to be focused on winning the position battle if and when the fight goes to the mat.
A golden opportunity to notch his biggest-ever win is at hand.
You can bet he'll be more than ready to face that challenge.
Bottom Line from Dallas: The bottom line for this fight is that's a serious proving ground for the up-and-coming Jury.
Although Sanchez doesn't have a glaring record lately, he has put on some of the most scintillating bouts. The 32-year-old Sanchez has seen so many wars and survived so many injuries that it's hard not to wonder how many hard-fought battles he has left in him.
He continues to defy the odds and throw down like there's no tomorrow. Handing Jury his only loss would be a huge feather in his cap, allowing him to hold onto the small amount of relevancy he still has.
On the other hand, Jury could vault into the rankings by defeating the respected Sanchez. If he does, a huge fight could be on the horizon for him towards the end of the year. With the lightweight title picture currently on hold as champion Anthony Pettis recovers from a torn PCL, every top-level win is going to be crucial.
Given the talent of Sanchez and jury, this might just be one of the hardest victories to get.
Experience will take on youth and skill when Diego Sanchez and Myles Jury lock horns in Dallas. Can "Dream" right the ship by handing Jury his first defeat, or will "Fury" pick up his biggest win yet?