The Fireball Kid is and always will be one of my favorite fighters, so it's a joy to see this reinvigorated version of Gomi in the UFC, but I didn't like his chances against Sanchez going in. I figured Diego would use his strength and wrestling to neutralize Gomi and beat him up on the ground for 15 minutes, but Gomi was well-prepared, keeping the fight on the feet for the most part, and showing much-improved conditioning and boxing. Diego, for his part, fought a smart fight as well, rarely initiating at punching range with the powerful striker, though more takedowns and clinching could have helped to slow Gomi's pace and disrupt his rhythm. Gomi stalked forward while Sanchez moved and kept the fight at kicking range, preferring to throw counter punches as Gomi waded in, winging shots.
It was a bit of a shock when the decision was announced, as I thought Gomi won it pretty handily, and I hope that the loss doesn't put a damper on Gomi's refound passion (or his UFC status). I decided to break this fight down statistically, like I did for Machida vs. Hendo, again, because I wanted to see how my tally matched up with the industry-standard FightMetric, and to get a better idea of how the fight could have been judged the way it was.
Upon second and third viewings, I still have it a shut-out for Gomi, but it was a much closer fight than I realized when watching it live, wearing my Fireball-colored glasses. After the decision was announced, they cut to the "Move of the Fight" and fittingly, it was the 3 takedowns from Round 1. I have to figure that those takedowns are what sealed the round for Diego in the eyes of two judges, even though I weighted Gomi's powerful strikes more heavily. With the 2nd round being close enough to be a draw, if I can lean toward Gomi, it's understandable if someone else leaned the other way. The 3rd round was undeniably Gomi's.
Fightmetric has the total strike count as - Sanchez - 68, Gomi - 81
I have it as - Sanchez - 44, Gomi - 60
I have to say that I did not include blocked, or properly checked strikes in the count, and that there were a couple of exchanges (such as 2:44-2:35 of Rd. 1) wherein the angle was so bad that it was impossible to tell who landed what where.
Here is the round-by-round breakdown of all the effective offense from the fight.
Gomi - 21 strikes
10 head punches
8 body punches
1 body kick
1 leg kick
1 knee to the body or head
Sanchez - 13 strikes, 3 takedowns, 1 sub attempt
7 head punches (2 ground strikes)
1 body punch
3 body kicks
2 leg kicks
3 takedowns - 19 seconds of positional dominance, 3rd takedown was right at the buzzer)
1 submission attempt (kneebar)
*also notable, 3 groin strikes - 2 kicks, 1 punch
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