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Diego Sanchez’s debut at lightweight could come against Joe Stevenson

A matchup between winners from the first and second seasons of The Ultimate Fighter could be in store for UFC 95, according to a report by

Sherdog’s Greg Savage is reporting that former welterweight title contender Diego Sanchez has made a verbal commitment for his first-ever bout in the 155 pound division to come against Joe Stevenson.

Savage adds in his report that bout agreements have yet to be signed. However, if the matchup is finalized, it is expected that it would take place at UFC 95 on Feb. 21 at the O2 Arena in London, England.

Sanchez, 19-2, won the middleweight championship during the first season of TUF after TKO’ing Kenny Florian at 2:49 of round 1. Following the win over Florian, the New Mexico native immediately dropped to welterweight, where he proceeded to go 5-0 until suffering back-to-back losses against Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch at UFCs 69 and 76, respectively.

Since suffering the first two losses of his career, Sanchez has rebounded to go 2-0 with wins over David Bielkheden at UFC 82 and Luigi Fioravanti during the live finale for the seventh season of TUF. However, Sanchez still made the decision last month to leave the welterweight division and make the cut to lightweight.

If the proposed bout with Stevenson becomes official, it would mean an ambitious lightweight debut for Sanchez. Stevenson became the welterweight winner for the second season of TUF after defeating Luke Cummo via unanimous decision during the show’s finale in November of 2005.

Stevenson, 29-9, dropped to lightweight following a unanimous decision loss to Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 4. He then went on to win his next four bouts while competing at 155 pounds and earned a chance to fight for the vacated UFC lightweight title last January at UFC 80. Facing former UFC welterweight champion B.J. Penn, the experienced Stevenson was still no match, being forced to submit at 4:02 of round 2 in a bloody encounter that saw the 26-year old bleed profusely from the head.

Stevenson rebounded with a second round submission victory over American Top Team’s Gleison Tibau at UFC 86 this past July but he was unable to maintain the momentum, as he suffered a first round submission defeat to Florian last month at UFC 91.

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