UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov - Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson Preview and Prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Lightweight Diego Sanchez looks to impress his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico against Ross Pearson by first avoiding the consumption of raw quail eggs.

Diego Sanchez vs. Ross Pearson Lightweight

A former welterweight versus a former featherweight?

And yet it will probably be the most competitive fight on the main card.

You think?

I know.

But Diego once beat Nick Diaz and Martin Kampmann!

And yet what does that mean for the Sanchez that exists now.

To be perfectly honest, I suspect I'll have a hard time watching this one. Diego Sanchez is probably the oldest 32 year old in the sport. He's been in seven Fight of the Night earning bouts, which is usually just a way of saying both guys went out and massaged each other's faces with each other's fists.

Watching MMA is something I enjoy not just because I'm a savage, but because it's a unique sport that takes away the fancy metaphors that typically defines athletic competition. Diego was thrilling to watch against fighters like Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch, and Karo Parisyan. Why? Because he was actively trying to win via techniques that weren't easily duplicated by any other fighter.

Diego was a real prospect, and he possessed a scrambling ability that few fighters could deal with. Even Fitch at his Fitch-iest could barely contain Diego's hasty undersized grappling.

Then in 2009, likely coinciding with his financial troubles, he began to brawl his way to victory. First Joe Stevenson, then Clay Guida. He thought himself as a striker, and he was able to be moderately successful of just because of his incredible chin. Sanchez is one of those very rare (and very endangered) fighters who has awful defense, but somehow avoids getting knocked out.

I was watching his fight with Myles Jury, and then went back and checked out his fight with Clay Guida-

Is this gonna be a eulogy for Diego or a preview for his bout with Ross?

Just a second.

So watching both fights tells the whole story about Diego Sanchez. He's not as quick. Punches seem to affect him more. Diego doesn't mind walking though a hailstorm of strikes, but his body responds to these strikes like it knows it's reached a tipping point. All the cells in his body are looking out for themselves, and the parts want to retreat while the sum wants to retain.

Diego has turned into a symbol of the prizefighting underbelly. He's no longer fun to watch despite the flurry of action. Because all of that action is arbitrary. Like a Michael Bay film, he's turned into all spectacle and no substance.

Gee, thanks for cheering me up on this what could have been a bright and cheerful Friday evening.

It's hard to review this fight when you consider how awful Diego looked against Jury, and knowing he did so because his brain has legitimately deteriorated.

So why watch? All I want to hear from your ass is whether or not Diego is a good bet at +160.

Calm down.

I'm interested in seeing how Diego reacts in front of his hometown. I'm interested in seeing if he's able to finally go back to his roots, and try grappling his way to victory (with a side order of predictable one-twos of course). He just needs to understand that switching nicknames is not a gameplan in and of itself.

And Ross Pearson?

When you take away the other narratives, the fight itself is a good one for both men. Ross seemed like a solid TUF fighter upon beating the speedy Andre Winner, but he never really seemed to find his footing. He only has 11 UFC fights, which is kind of shocking when you consider that he's been fighting in the UFC since June, 2009. Ross seemed on his way towards losing to Melvin Guillard until an ill-timed and illegal knee.

In a way this a solid fight for Ross. He has the clean, crisp boxing to find openings and land punches all day. In fact, this is precisely what will happen against a guy like Diego. He's a capable wrestler, so I don't know what he needs to fear the current scramble-free version of Diego that exists now.

A couple reasons why I'm not sold on Pearson, and would bet on Diego if the betting odds were higher.

One, Ross does most of his damage in close quarters where Diego can theoretically get takedowns if he commits to a ground war. Jury picked Diego apart with a few shots at a time. I don't know that Pearson's timing is as impeccable though he's clearly capable. This is easily the most tenuous of objections, however, as Ross is clearly the better striker.

Two, madness seems to follow Diego as much in the cage as they do via results. I remember actually laughing when he knocked out Joe Riggs. It was just the least likely result given Riggs' lauded punching power, and Diego's distinct lack of.

The other factor is that Ross himself is kind of inconsistent. Despite his cage savvy, he's prone to getting hit, and if he's caught rolling around on the ground with Diego, could very well lose. Still...Ross just needs to keep it standing and let Diego's madness do all the work for him.

Ross Pearson by Decision.

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