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Diego Sanchez looking for big fights... at featherweight

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The narrative of fighters looking for late-career big fights continues, with TUF 1 winner and former title contender Diego Sanchez announcing a drop to 145 lbs.

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It seems almost too predictable these days. As fighters get on in years in the UFC they tend to run out of big fight options in their own division. Not wanting to fight all the young up and coming fighters, but having already fought the old guard around them. Recently, we've seen Uriah Faber move up, Tom Lawlor too, Brendan Schaub has gone down to Light Heavyweight, and Cezar Ferreira has made the drop down to welterweight. The latest fighter to announce a divisional shift has a long history of moving between lightweight and welterweight, but now Diego Sanchez is dropping down to 145 lbs for his next bout.

Sanchez announced the move on the MMA Road Show with John Morgan in a recent interview about his return from a broken collarbone suffered last year (transcription via MMAJunkie):

"I'm going down to 145," Sanchez said on the latest edition of "The MMA Road Show" with John Morgan. "I think there's some great fights down there at 145. Even right away, I'm going to be a force in the divison - right away. And I know all the 145-pounders are, ‘Oh, that's if you make weight. If Diego can make weight.' That's what they're going to be saying. But, you know what? I'm going to do it. I'm going to make weight, and I'm going down to this division."
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"The weight started coming off so fast, and one month in, I was already down to 170 pounds," Sanchez said. "I was basically as lean as I am going into a fight at 155. So I'm like, ‘Alright, I'm not even in the gym, and I'm able to get this lean right now - 145 is realistic now.'"

Sanchez named fights with Clay Guida and Conor McGregor as possible bouts he'd be looking for, but the biggest fight on his radar is something of a surprise:

"The ultimate fight that I would like the best is Ricardo Lamas. ... He's coming off of a knockout loss, but the guy is a come-forward fighter. He won't try to run. This guy fights. He doesn't run away. He's not going to play the ‘I'm afraid of you and I'm going to run away.' He's going to come forward, and those are ultimately the best fights for me that showcase my skills and give the fans the best fights."

At 5' 10" Sanchez would be one of the bigger fighters in the division. It's the same listed height as Erik Koch and an inch taller than Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor are officially pegged at. Jose Aldo only comes in at 5' 7". That's not to let height tell the whole story. Sanchez has a pretty boxy build it's likely that he'll be something of a hulking featherweight fighter. This is someone who was in the cage with Martin Kampmann and Jake Ellenberger just a few years ago.

No news of exactly who he might debut against, or when, but it will be interesting to see if Sanchez's potential size and strength advantage makes him a more imposing featherweight, especially with his blitzing pressure fighting style.