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Two Psychos and an Octagon

Cover photo courtesy of Dana White via Instagram

Another Saturday, another relatively innocuous UFC Fight Night event scheduled. This time in the sprawling metropolis of… Rio Rancho. Corey Anderson and Jan Blachowicz will rematch with a potential light heavyweight title shot on the line in the main event, or the winner will sit and wait for Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes to settle their differences in a likely rematch. Either way, the card is decent for a fight night, but likely nothing special. And while the card may not be particularly high profile, a uniquely interesting and potentially special matchup sits in the co-main event slot.

Diego Sanchez vs. Michel Pereira is the ultimate WTF fight. And the great thing is, there is no reason to elaborate passed that point, but I will. It’s very much a fight that seems to be one the UFC made for the sole purpose of just saying, “F**k it! Let’s see what happens.” And typically, when it comes to fights such as this, I’m inclined to criticize it in every way imaginable until fight time comes, and I’m all over the place with excitement. This one, I don’t even feel the need to criticize because, well, it makes a great deal of sense.

A post shared by ufc (@ufc) on Feb 12, 2020 at 5:16pm PST

Diego Sanchez lost his last fight to Michael Chiesa but won his two prior outings against prospects Mickey Gall and Craig White. The loss to Chiesa, while it looked awful at the time, now holds a little bit of value- if a loss could hold any- as Chiesa is now a top 10 ranked welterweight contender. Sanchez has also seemingly abandoned his popular sprawl and brawl style in favor of a more technical grappling-based attack. Sanchez will likely never be in UFC title contention again. Still, his wins over high profile prospects have put him in the position as a UFC gatekeeper, as well as a name for up and comers to potentially build their respective names off of.

My attention now turns to Michel Pereira, who captured the hearts of MMA fans last May after knocking out Danny Roberts in spectacular fashion. He displayed numerous explosive attacks ranging from running superman punches off the cage to backflips and moonsaults that ultimately culminated with the knee-to-cross finish. The hype was strong behind Pereira heading into his next and most recent bout against newcomer Tristan Connelly in September. While Pereira did a lot of the same he did against Roberts, it wasn’t nearly as effective. Connelly was able to avoid the initial burst of attacks and was able to take Pereira down after his gas tank was zapped effectively. Pereira now enters this bout with his proverbial stock in jeopardy. He’s as exciting and unpredictable as they come, but with a clear cardio issue.

This fight, for my money, comes down to the first round. If it escapes the first, it’s Sanchez’s fight to lose. His grappling and constant pressure should cause a multitude of issues for the always explosive Pereira. Another factor will be if Sanchez elects to stick to his new grappling-based attack or returns to his brawl-first style against a guy who seems to have issues with pressure. For that very reason, I can’t make a pick on this fight. This one to me is Khabib-Ferguson lite. Very, very lite. Not even close to that fight, but the craziness leading into it is a bit of an appetite wetter in terms of anticipation.

Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro

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