Last night (Sat., June 7, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Diego Sanchez and Ross Pearson squared off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 42 from Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
To watch fight video highlights of Sanchez vs. Pearson right now click here.
It was a long-awaited homecoming for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 winner Sanchez, but his recent results had been a bit of a "Nightmare." After losing a rather one-sided decision to Myles Jury at UFC 171, Sanchez had only won one of his last four mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, and even that was a controversial decision victory over Takanori Gomi.
The hard-nosed fan favorite needed a big win against TUF 9 winner Pearson, who 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. Pearson couldn't make it to their scheduled rematch at UFC Fight Night 37 in March, so "Real Deal" looked to come back strong in Albuquerque.
When it was all said and done, hometown favorite Sanchez took home the much-needed win, but it will certainly go down as yet another unfortunate instance of highly controversial judging in MMA.
The fight kicked off with Sanchez landing a light combination. Pearson stalked forward and Sanchez' movement level was high. Pearson landed a sharp right and a good hook, following with a big shot that wobbled Sanchez. "Real Deal" landed a body kick and another right.
Sanchez snapped a kick and a right of his own as the restless crowd showed their anxiety. "Nightmare" threw a spinning back kick to Pearson's body and a couple punches, unloading a flurry as the bell sounded on the opening round.
Sanchez missed a single leg attempt to start the second. He scored with a body kick, and his crowd unleashed his famous "Yes!" chant.
Unfortunately for them, Pearson threw a solid kick to the head. He controlled the Octagon to land some hard right hands. Sanchez just couldn't get much going, and Pearson appeared the quicker fighter. Pearson dropped Sanchez with a huge straight right, following up with a trip. Sanchez landed some knees in the clinch and ended the round with another flurry.
The final frame saw Sanchez needing to ramp up his aggression. He couldn't get inside of Pearson's range as "Real Deal" seemed to move out of harm's way with ease. Pearson landed a punch and kick to the body. He snapped a perfect counter and went to the body again, and then upstairs with two power shots.
Sanchez pressed forward towards the end of the fight, going for a wild knee and a sloppy takedown attempt.
In the end, Sanchez took home a very debatable split decision victory that even fans in his hometown could be heard booing. He was very thankful of his fans in victory, but the bottom line was he looked rather slow and ineffective in scoring only his second win in five fights, with both coming by way of baffling decision.
Although he asked for a fight with Nate Diaz in Mexico, it's tough to argue that he deserves that booking if he hardly squeaked by Pearson. A fight with someone towards the bottom of the Top 25 is probably more in line for Sanchez as he nears the end of his storied career.
For Pearson the loss is an extremely disheartening one, as he probably should have won. But that's the downfall of letting any fight go into the hands of the judges, and Pearson probably could have fought with a bit more aggressiveness himself. He'll most likely rebound against a Top 20-type of opponent; a fight with Joe Lauzon could make sense for "Real Deal."
Along those lines, it will be extremely interesting to see how Dana White reacts to the judging decision rendered here. Either way, Pearson shouldn't hang his head too low with the loss.
Diego Sanchez picked up another controversial decision over Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 42, a win many attributed to home field advantage. But how much longer can the judges mask ‘Nightmare's' wear and tear after many years in the Octagon?