This Saturday night (June 7, 2014,) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Diego Sanchez and Ross Pearson will square off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 42, airing live on FOX Sports 1 at 10 p.m. EST from Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 winner Sanchez recently lost a rather lopsided decision to undefeated prospect Myles Jury at UFC 171, a defeat he attributed to ingesting raw beef and quail eggs the day before the fight. You can bet “Nightmare,” who’s ditched his “Dream” moniker prior to fighting in his hometown of Albuquerque, won’t make that mistake again.
He’s lost three out of his past four mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, so the pressure is on the longtime veteran to not only win for his native crowd, but to keep any degree of relevancy in the stacked UFC lightweight division.
TUF 9 winner Pearson was last seen facing Melvin Guillard to a No Contest at UFC Fight Night 30 after “Young Assassin” cut him open with an illegal knee. A rematch was scheduled for March’s UFC Fight Night 37, but “Real Deal” was forced to pull out with a knee injury.
The pressure will weigh heavily on both fighters in this potential “Fight of the Night” candidate. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for Sanchez vs. Pearson:
Record: 24-7 overall, 13-7 UFC
Key Wins: Nick Diaz (TUF 2 Finale), Clay Guida (TUF 9 Finale), Martin Kampmann (UFC Live 3), Myles Jury (UFC 171)
Key Losses: Gilbert Melendez (UFC 166), Jake Ellenberger (UFC on Fuel TV 1), B.J. Penn (UFC 107), Jon Fitch (UFC 76)
Record: 15-6(1) overall, 6-3 (1) UFC
Key Wins: Dennis Siver (UFC Fight Night 21), George Sotiropoulos (UFC on FX 6)
Key Losses: Cub Swanson (UFC on FX 4), Edson Barboza (UFC 134)
With a propensity to stand in the pocket and trade haymakers, Sanchez has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting fighters in UFC. However, all of the back-and-forth wars have begun to catch up with him, and he’s not really winning all that many of them.
To get back on track in New Mexico, Sanchez might want to return to his solid wrestling and submission skills. Despite his reputation as a banger, he actually has more submission wins than knockouts. Pearson has five submissions of his own, but he’s never scored one in UFC.
Taking this fight to the ground and looking for a fight-ending hold is Sanchez’s best way to make UFC Fight Night 42 a triumphant homecoming.
Pearson, on the other hand, is a well-rounded fighter who knocked out two straight opponents prior to facing Guillard. Despite British MMA fighters known to favor their striking, Pearson has worked very hard to shore up his all-around game.
But sticking to his go-to skillset is probably his best bet here. Sanchez will be willing to absorb a ton of shots to land a few of his own, and that should work out in “Real Deal’s” favor. Pushing the pace with solid boxing combinations will score a ton of points in the eyes of the judges for Pearson.
If he can sprawl out some takedowns and land some good shots in the subsequent scrambles, Pearson could score the biggest victory of his career in Albuquerque.
He just has to be ready to win an all-out war to do it.
“Nightmare” has only been put to sleep once, and he’s going to be as intense as ever in front of his family and friends. It’s not often you get to see a fighter like him in that kind of environment, so enjoy the fight.
Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson is the clear-cut frontrunner for “Fight of the Night” at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque. Will it be a ‘Nightmare’ for Pearson, or will he prove that he is the ‘Real Deal?’