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Sanchez lays claim to No. 1 spot Pearson, Wilks win at TUF 9
Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos courtesty of Josh Hedges, UFC
Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez has gone on a tear through the UFC.
Boasting a 22-2 record, the original Ultimate Fighter entered Saturday’s main event against Clay “The Carpenter” Guida with something to prove. Popular opinion held that if Sanchez could emerge the victor, he’d be in line for a shot against the winner of the BJ Penn-Kenny Florian lightweight championship bout at UFC 101.
In a stunning reversal of roles, Sanchez stormed across the Octagon in the opening seconds and immediately went on the attack. He hammered Guida—who was at a significant reach disadvantage—with punches and knees. Many inside the sold out Pearl believed that Guida might have a short night.
But Guida would not fall so easily.
After surviving the initial onslaught, Guida scored a takedown of his foe, and escaped the first round. As this writer wrote at the conclusion of the first, “Somebody call the police, Clay Guida’s just been mugged.”
The second round saw the New Mexico fighter’s pace slow considerably allowing Guida to go on the attack. Guida secured an early takedown and was able to keep Sanchez at bay with a series of wild punches. However, Sanchez once again took advantage of his longer frame and superior reach, avoiding most of the damage while cutting Guida with elbows from the bottom.
In the minds of many, it was all even going into the third and final round.
With the capacity crowd on their feet as the bell sounded, the pair engaged in a standup battle in the first half of the round. It appeared in the early going that Guida might steal the round—and thus the fight—as he landed several punches to the head of Sanchez. As the final moments of the fight took place on the canvas, Sanchez attempted a rear naked choke, a kimura, and an arm bar. Though Guida was not forced to tap, the submission attempts likely sealed the round for Sanchez despite Guida’s final ten-second barrage of punches.
The judges scored the bout 29-28 for Sanchez (twice) and 29-28 for Guida.
“He’s got a couple of hearts,” Sanchez said of Guida.
The bout is certain to be an instant classic and possible fight of the year contender.