Two very talented lightweight veterans competed in a catchweight bout last night (March 2, 2013) as former Pride champion Takanori Gomi battled The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one winner Diego Sanchez on the UFC on FUEL TV 8 main card in Saitama, Japan.
Gomi looked inspired in his last bout over another TUF winner Mac Danzig and he came out aggressive against Sanchez, looking for that huge right hand of his while trying to fend off the takedowns.
Sanchez did a good job in the opening round, landing a counter left body kick, but Gomi was clearly getting the better of the striking exchanges. "The Dream" turned the tides with a pair of good takedowns, shooting in dumping Gomi on the canvas to counter Gomi's aggression with his punches and with his knees.
Gomi came out a bit more composed in the second round, working his jab and really looking to connect to the body with his powerful right hand. Sanchez tried to shoot in for takedowns but he was stuffed. Gomi did a great job of taking the initiative and backing the former "Nightmare" up for much of the frame and he stayed with his boxing, which didn't give Sanchez the opportunities to catch a kick or knee and take him to the ground.
In the third round, Sanchez came out aggressively, sprinting to Gomi but he was simply met with a pair of jabs and his intensity level dropped immediately. While the Jackson's MMA fighter was able to find some success with his left body kicks, he wasn't doing nearly as much damage as Gomi was with his left and right hands both to the head and the body and Gomi continued to stuff every takedown attempt.
Sanchez could not get much going until the very end of the fight as he finally showed a sense of urgency and began throwing a wild flurry of strikes, backing Gomi up along the fence as time expired.
Despite the fact that Gomi looked to have clearly done enough to win the final two rounds, the judges awarded Sanchez a split decision, taking a 29-28 score on two scorecards.
For Takanori Gomi, he actually did a really good job this fight and has nothing to be ashamed of other than the judges who scored it. Sanchez has never been knocked out so he shouldn't have expected to finish him. He did a great job of mixing up his boxing attack, scoring with heavy strikes to the head and body and also throwing a combination of jabs and power punches. He fended off every takedown after the first round and he was the aggressor. He should have won the fight, plain and simple.
"The Fireball Kid" should fight someone like Melvin Guillard, Matt Wiman or perhaps the upcoming loser of Pat Healy vs. Jim Miller next.
For Diego Sanchez, he started off well enough with some takedowns in the opening round that forced Gomi to abandon his kicks and knees, but he just doesn't possess the striking technique to actually hold his own against someone who really knows what they're doing on the feet. The TUF season one winner's best attack was his left kick to the body and he made sure to use that as much as possible because he wasn't concerned about a counter or a takedown from hsi Japanese foe. Sanchez did show a sense of urgency in the third round, but only in the first and last 10 seconds of the final frame. That shouldn't have been enough to award him the victory.
Next up for Sanchez should be someone like the Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson winner. Other potential foes include the Evan Dunham vs. Rafael dos Anjos winner or perhaps even Jamie Varner.
For complete UFC on FUEL TV 8 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.