Former UFC title challenger Ricardo Lamas will be looking to provide a rude featherweight welcome for Diego Sanchez this coming weekend at Fight Night 78 in Monterrey, Mexico. The No. 4-ranked Lamas is in rebound mode after suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of Chad Mendes in his last appearance, while Sanchez will be looking to make it back-to-back wins after a highly controversial split-decision verdict over Ross Pearson in his last outing.
This shapes up as a very intriguing matchup and a solid all-action battle. The 33-year-old Lamas wants to stay relevant in a tough 145-pound landscape and he’ll need to emerge victorious to avoid a major tumble down the rankings ladder. “The Bully” was blasted out in the first-round by the former title challenger Mendes in their main event battle at Fight Night 63 in Virginia, and he’ll try to prove that he still has plenty of fight left in him.
The biggest spotlight of the Chicago native’s Octagon tenure was a failed title bid at UFC 169 against Jose Aldo. The Brazilian dominated the proceedings in New Jersey although Lamas did at least finish up strong with a solid final round. He showed his toughness in lasting the 25-minute distance against the dangerous featherweight kingpin but would ultimately drop a unanimous decision.
After the disappointment of falling short in his toughest test he recorded consecutive wins over Hacran Dias and Dennis Bermudez. Lamas’ first-round submission victory over “The Menace” at UFC 180 in Mexico City was quite an accomplishment as he would snap his opponent’s seven-fight win streak. That momentum however was derailed by the Mendes loss and now Lamas has redemption on his mind as he tries to improve upon a 6-2 Octagon record.
Lamas has notched eight finishes in his 15 career triumphs including other notable UFC stoppages of Cub Swanson and Erik Koch. He’s a solid wrestler, has dangerous ground-and-pound and slick submission skills. He’ll be a formidable test for Sanchez who is making his 145-pound debut.
Sanchez was truly given a gift on the judges’ scorecards at Fight Night 42 in New Mexico against “The Real Deal.” There was a tremendous outcry over the decision and the use of the term ‘robbery’ wasn’t a stretch at all. Since that win an injury forced “The Dream” out of a scheduled appearance at UFC 180. After undergoing collarbone surgery, the cast member of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter decided to campaign in his fourth weight class. It’s staggering that he captured his TUF 1 title as a middleweight.
The timing to switch things up seems right with Sanchez having gone 2-2 in his last four appearances at 155 pounds. If not for the ludicrous decision that went his way against Pearson, and an extremely close decision win over Japanese veteran Takanori Gomi, Sanchez could actually be on a five-fight losing skid. While he has produced 15 finishes in his 25 career wins, Sanchez hasn’t registered an Octagon stoppage since 2008.
Sanchez has definitely lived up to his warrior reputation during his 21 UFC appearances. He’s been involved in several epic battles during his tenure with the most notable coming against Clay Guida and Gilbert Melendez. Sanchez’s most high-profile bout was a failed title bid at UFC 107 against then-lightweight kingpin B.J. Penn. He’s garnered seven Fight of the Night bonuses and can definitely make a big statement in his new weight class by knocking off a top-5 opponent.
This co-main event clash definitely has promising potential. There’s no doubt the stakes are high for both established veterans. If Lamas has any designs of working his way back into the featherweight title conversation, he simply can’t afford another misstep against the ultra-aggressive Sanchez. Lamas still has the ability to get booked into some very meaningful matchups if he can bounce-back in impressive fashion.