Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight fighters Ricardo Lamas and Diego Sanchez battled last night (Nov. 21, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 78 inside Monterrey Arena in Monterrey, Mexico.
Lamas has proven himself to be a top five competitor, but he was entering the Octagon coming off a loss last night. Above all else, Lamas was simply looking to return to the win column and the title hunt.
On the other hand, Sanchez has been struggling mightily for the last few years to find consistent success. Hoping to change things around, Sanchez decided to drop all the way down to featherweight and found Lamas as his divisional debut.
As expected, Sanchez looked to pressure his opponent while Lamas circled and threw kicks. After finding his range a bit, Lamas began to bounce in with hard body shots as well, which were landing nicely.
At about the halfway point, Lamas responded to a hard combination with a wheel kick and punches, which connected cleanly. For a brief moment, the fight devolved into a brawl as promised, and both men landed some decent shots.
However, Lamas soon regained his composure, returned to his technical striking, and landed a double leg takedown. Lamas controlled from the back mount for about a minute until Sanchez briefly reversed, and the clock ran out as the fighters settled in the clinch.
While Lamas clearly won the round, Sanchez definitely had a few strong moments and looked better than expected.
After getting cracked by a nice left hand, Lamas returned to his wrestling and scored with a double leg takedown. Sanchez worked back to his feet and defended well, but Lamas refused to relent on his wrestling assault until Sanchez finally broke away.
Back in the center of the Octagon, Lamas scored with a brutal low kick that clearly destabilized his opponent's lead leg. Sanchez -- being a crazy person -- waved Lamas in and eat some more punishment followed by another takedown. Sanchez definitely held his own in the grappling exchanges, as the two traded top position in expert fashion.
It was really enjoyable to watch, considering how long it has been since we've gotten to see Sanchez's grappling skill. However, Lamas was clearly winning the fight, and Sanchez's lead leg was definitely hurting.
Lamas continued to play the matador, which was made easier as Sanchez was basically limping by the third round. Before long, Lamas landed another calf kick that sent Sanchez to the mat briefly. Sanchez could barely stand, yet Lamas was so hesitant to slug with Sanchez that he was allowed to recover.
Despite his show of heart, Sanchez was having a difficult time moving. Because of that, Lamas was able to bounce in-and-out with effective strikes, and Sanchez had a tough time keeping up.
So while Sanchez had his moments, Lamas was the clear winner at the end of 15 minutes.
This was a really strong display by Lamas. His kickboxing has never looked better, as Lamas was able to land a wide variety of heavy kicks. In addition to a clean wheel kick, Lamas threw lead leg kicks and snap kicks very well.
Most important was Lamas's calf kick, which destroyed Sanchez's stance. Plus, it made it very difficult for Sanchez to pressure his opponent, and pressure was the name of his game for this fight.
Following this win, Lamas needs to get back to fighting top featherweights. Since they haven't fought yet, a scrap with Charles Oliveira would definitely be entertaining.
In all honesty, Sanchez impressed me tonight. His striking was a bit more measured than usual, as Sanchez threw some hard kicks and hopped in with strong combinations. Plus, his cut to featherweight didn't seem to affect him much, which is impressive considering his past issues of cutting to lightweight.
Additionally, Sanchez's grappling ability looked very strong. Lamas is one of the craftiest wrestlers and submission fighters around, but Sanchez definitely kept up with him. That certainly says good things about his potential in this new division.
Overall, it's simply unfortunate that Sanchez made his featherweight debut opposite a top five fighter. He looked fairly revitalized, but Sanchez isn't going to beat top contenders at this stage of his career. Instead, Sanchez should square off with another old dog in the division, like Clay Guida.
Last night, Ricardo Lamas cruised past Diego Sanchez in a fun fight. Where does the former title challenger go from here?
For complete UFC Fight Night 78 "Gastelum vs Magny" results and play-by-play, click HERE!