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UFC Fight Night 167 card: Diego Sanchez vs Michel Pereira full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight wildcards Diego Sanchez and Michel Pereira will throw down this Saturday (Feb. 15, 2020) at UFC Fight Night 167 from inside Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Sanchez is nothing if not enduring. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season one victor hasn’t been a top contender since probably 2010, but “The Nightmare” has still lingered around the roster at various divisions. In fact, he’s won two of his last three bouts! Meanwhile, Pereira is only two fights deep into his UFC career, and what a ride it’s already been. The Brazilian made it into UFC by doing weird flips and jumping kicks on the regional scene, and most expected him to lose his debut. Then, he won spectacularly, and the hype train roared madly ... only for him to get grounded out in his second bout as a massive favorite.

At least he’s entertaining! Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Diego Sanchez

Record: 29-12
Key Wins: Mickey Gall (UFC 235), Marcin Held (TUF Latin America 3 Finale), Jim Miller (UFC 196), Clay Guida (TUF 9 Finale)
Key Losses: Michael Chiesa (UFC 239), Matt Brown (UFC Fight Night 120), Al Iaquinta (UFC Fight Night 108), Joe Lauzon (UFC 200), BJ Penn (UFC 107)
Keys to Victory: At this point in his career, Sanchez is entirely a grinder. His striking — which was once aggressive and dangerous if not technical — is now a serious liability, but Sanchez is still a solid wrestler and quite effective if able to gain top position.

There are two remarkably clear potential paths for this fight to go. In one, Pereira hits Sanchez with something powerful in the opening five minutes, and “The Nightmare” goes down hard. In the second, Sanchez avoids getting hit with anything too wild, Pereira slows down, and Sanchez dominates from top position.

To give himself the best chance at making the latter reality, Sanchez’s movement will be key. If he’s predictable early — whether pushing forward or running away — there’s a fair chance Pereira blasts him. Instead, Sanchez has to focus on changing directions, feinting, and clinching up when possible.

If he’s moving his feet and making Pereira guess, the Brazilian is likely to exhaust himself before finding his target.


Michel Pereira

Record: 23-10 (1)
Key Wins: Danny Roberts (UFC Fight Night 152), Cristiano Rios (Fusion FC 24), Cairo Rocha (XFC International 9)
Key Losses: Tristan Connelly (UFC Fight Night 158), Dusko Todorovic (Serbian Battle Championship 19)
Keys to Victory: Pereira is devoted to his goofy antics, and I appreciate that. Beyond the flips and cage-runs, “Demolidor” is a massive Welterweight with big power in his hands, dangerous enough that he cannot be laughed off.

Opposite a man very clearly looking to wrestle in Sanchez, I’d like to see Pereira set the tone early with a flying knee attempt or two. If Sanchez is hesitant to duck down, that really limits his defensive options. At this point in his career, Sanchez is neither particularly quick nor particularly durable. If Pereira can strand him on the feet for just a minute or two, it’s very likely that he’ll land big.

Beyond that, some low kicks would be wise. As Sanchez looks to evade, a well-timed kick would very likely knock him off-balance, leaving him vulnerable to more powerful follow-up punches.


Bottom Line

The co-main event is a meme fight, but it should be fun!

I don’t want to pretend there’s anything at all on the line divisionally. Sanchez is 38 years old and obviously close to the end of his professional career. At this point, it’s all about scoring enough victories to avoid getting forced into retirement, and he’s not particularly close to the point right now. Win or lose, Sanchez isn’t going anywhere just yet.

As for Pereira, there is more on the line. Despite his wealth of experience, the Brazilian combatant is just 26 years of age himself, and he does have some obvious physical talents and skills beneath all the flash. Hopefully, the Connelly loss will serve as a learning experience, because there is a path where Pereira can be both entertaining and still win fights.

We’ll see on Saturday if he’s taken a step toward finding that perfect balance.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 1667 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 167: “Anderson vs. Blachowicz 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC Fight Night 167, Diego Sanchez and Michel Perreira will meet in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?

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