Diego Sanchez has certainly been a true blood-and-guts warrior during his lengthy 21-fight UFC tenure. The Season 1 middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter is set to compete in his fourth weight class this weekend when he tests the featherweight waters against former 145-pound title challenger Ricardo Lamas.
Fans in Monterrey, Mexico should be in store for plenty of excitement. Intensity and action have been the calling cards of his Octagon tenure. While Sanchez has been involved in several memorable and bloody battles, he’s only been stopped once in his 32-fight career. That was because of a doctor’s stoppage because of a ghastly cut he sustained in his lightweight title fight against B.J. Penn at UFC 107.
Let’s take a look back at five epic Diego Sanchez UFC wars.
5. Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann (UFC on Versus 3)
This matchup against the talented Danish striker was the headliner of a March 3, 2011 event in Louisville, Kentucky. Not surprisingly, it ended up being a bloody welterweight affair as both men were involved in their fair share of wars over the years.
“Hitman” would enjoy a solid opening round as he’d send Sanchez to the deck with a perfect right hand. There would be a number of furious exchanges throughout the 15-minute encounter. In the end, despite Sanchez’s face being a battered, bloody mess he would emerge triumphant on the judges’ scorecards. His relentless pressure seemed the tipping point as he earned a unanimous-decision victory. Both gritty competitors were rewarded with well-earned Fight of the Night bonuses.
4. Diego Sanchez vs. Jake Ellenberger (UFC on Fuel TV 1)
Sanchez would enter enemy territory to square off against the hard-hitting Omaha native to headline a February 15, 2012 card in Nebraska. It would prove to be an exciting 170-pound contest with plenty of drama. Sanchez entered the battle on a modest two-fight win streak while the red-hot Ellenberger was riding the momentum of a successful five-fight stretch.
Ellenberger would get off to a strong start as he would sent his opponent to the canvas with a crisp punching combination. The middle stanza would be another strong one for “The Juggernaut” as he’d do considerable damage with brutal elbows from top position after securing a late takedown. Sanchez would nearly pull off the come-from-behind victory in the final round as he would employ a ground-and-pound assault in the final minute of the bout. Ellenberger was able to ward off a late submission attempt, and it was only fitting that the contest would end with a wild exchange at the bell. Sanchez would drop a unanimous decision in a spirited clash that produced a Fight of the Night bonus.
3. Diego Sanchez vs. Karo Parisyan (UFC Fight Night 6)
This was a tremendous contest between an aggressive striker and a judo specialist. This sizzling three-round encounter back on August 17, 2006 provided fans in Las Vegas with a little bit of everything. Both men had their moments in the striking department and there were exciting scrambles on the ground as well. Sanchez would do the bulk of the damage in the stand-up game while Parisyan would showcase his judo skills with some impressive highlight-reel throws.
In the end Sanchez would secure a unanimous decision victory after three hotly-contested rounds.
One of the more memorable images was the sight of a Sanchez knee causing Parisyan to lose a tooth during the contest.
Sanchez would pull away in the final frame by battering Parisyan in the final two minutes of the fight. Sanchez had his exhausted and bloodied opponent on the defensive warding off submission attempts. This matchup was widely regarded as one of the best fights of the year, and produced another Fight of the Night bonus.
2. Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida (TUF 9 Finale)
You just had a feeling that this June 20, 2009 clash in Las Vegas was going to produce something special as the two competitors engaged in an intense staredown prior to the start of the action. Sanchez and Guida would go toe-to-toe from the opening seconds of the fight with the TUF 1 winner getting the better of the exchanges. Guida would showcase his immense toughness as he was bloodied early and felled by a devastating head kick that he somehow managed to survive.
“The Carpenter” would actually enjoy a solid second-round after putting his wrestling skills to good use. Guida would secure a takedown and keep Sanchez pinned to the canvas for a good chunk of the stanza.
There were more fireworks in the final frame as both men showcased their tremendous courage and determination in delivering an instant classic. When the scorecards were tallied it was Sanchez getting the split-decision nod in one of the most action-packed and captivating fights of 2009.
1. Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez (UFC 166)
Sanchez and the former Strikeforce champion Melendez engaged in as wild a lightweight tilt as you will ever see in Houston, Texas on October 19, 2013. Their highly anticipated battle at UFC 166 more than lived up to the hype in delivering an insane stand-up war. Both competitors threw caution to the wind as they were involved in numerous ferocious exchanges during the three-round battle.
“El Nino” showcased his superior technical striking skills in the first two rounds and seemed well on his way to a dominant victory. However, Sanchez brought everyone to their feet in the final round when he decked the ultra-tough Melendez with a right uppercut and moved in for the kill. Melendez would survive that shaky moment and would stand and trade with a badly bloodied Sanchez right to the final horn.
The judges’ verdict went in favor of Melendez by unanimous decision, however there was truly no loser on that night. Both men saw their stocks raised by an unforgettable battle that was on everyone’s list as being one of the best fights of 2013. In fact, years from now it’ll still be regarded as one of the most intense Octagon clashes ever.