Dolan: A New Nightmare

If there were any questions surrounding Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez’s debut at lightweight going into his fight with Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, they were all certainly answered following the bout.

Sanchez, the original winner of The Ultimate Fighter at middleweight, was taking a big risk dropping down to lightweight. Naturally walking around at 190 pounds, many thought the drop to 155 for weight-ins, and the jump back up to 170 for the actual fight, would throw his body for a loop. And unless you’ve experienced that loop first hand, its hard to say how your body will despond. A loss of speed, a lack of energy, and poor cardio were all issues many thought would hamper Sanchez in his first go round.

Add in the fact that he would be facing Stevenson, one of the UFC’s top lightweights, early projections were not in Sanchez’s favor.

From the opening minutes though Sanchez seemed to dispel his critics. He seemed quicker than at welterweight, his power seemed to transfer over along with his natural skill set.

Sanchez was able to pick apart Stevenson at ease, and everything became even easier when it was apparent Stevenson had no intentions of taking the fight to the ground. In what became a kickboxing match Sanchez utilized the jab from his waist to control the tempo of the one dimensional fight.

Now no longer just a ground and pound fighter with an inability to stop fights, Sanchez seems to be a complete fighter in every asset of his game.

It was thought before this fight with Stevenson that Sanchez was dropping to lightweight to avoid the top talent at welterweight. After losses to Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck, Sanchez just didn’t seem like the same fighter anymore. Now the move seems like a calculated career move, with a huge upside.

If he’s able to continue to make weight at 155, and that could become an issue, Sanchez can make a serious run at dominating the weight class.

His future could hold a second fight with Kenny Florian which presents an intriguing match up for both the fighters and the UFC. Both men are totally different fighters since they squared off at TUF season one finale. A title shot vs. B.J. Penn will need to be earned despite this impressive victory. Many people might point to Sean Sherk as his next likely opponent, but a match with Clay Guida might be the most alluring. Both men like to keep up an extremely fast pace to their fights and look to slug it out on their feet or on the ground.

One thing is for sure his next fight will be against one of the upper echelon fighters the division as to offer and we will see if he was for real in his debut, or if the win was product of the fight being one dimensional.

At 170 a motivated Sanchez was a huge challenge for anyone to take on, but motivated and determined at 155 might be a scary and unstoppable proposition to tango with.

If everything goes his way, Sanchez could unleash a nightmare on the UFC lightweight division in 2009.

12 COMMENTS
  • Ft. Dub says:

    Stevenson looked terrible in that fight. Diego looked good, but considering how basic and predictable Joe was fighting, it’s hard to gauge how well Diego would do against the division’s elite. Sherk would be the next logical opponent, with the winner to get the next title shot.

    I don’t usually buy too much into the pre-fight talk, but Diego was right when he said that Joe hadn’t evolved. No angles, no kicks, just left – right punches plodding forward. Joe better watch out or he’ll be stuck in gatekeeper status.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Rich S. says:

    wrong,
    Stevenson looked terrible in the FIRST ROUND..
    He started a comeback late in the 2nd, and by the 3rd, he had completely nullified Diego’s striking..

    Diego’s striking is good, but his ground work is unbelievable..
    The best fights of his career were won because of his amazing JJ and wrestling..

    He’s another one of those tragic cases (like Frank Shamrock, or Nick Diaz)..
    He doesn’t even want to take it to the ground any more..
    Now, it actually works for Shammy and Diaz.. and Diego apparently..
    But, i think we all know, that fight could’ve ended A LOT quicker had he just taken him to the ground..

    I know you’re thinking, “well, the striking is getting him wins”..
    but look at Kos..
    the striking’s getting him wins too..
    but rather than taking Paulo down and pounding him out, he got knocked out in the 1st, because of his new striker mentality..

    I just really wish some of these guys could get past the ego part (or the thought that they HAVE to strike) and just do what they do best, whatever it may be.. and in Diego’s case, i feel that it’s JJ..

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Stan says:

    With Sherk and Florian tied up with their next fights, Guida does make pretty decent sense for Sanchez’s next fight. My money is on his next fight being Tyson Griffin though. Griffin seems like a perfect buildup fight for a guy they are grooming for a title shot after Penn/Florian.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • screwface says:

    im a nightmare fan, but he honestly didnt impress me too much in this fight. there was nothing ‘nightmare’ about his domination over joe. maybe its because they both respected each others ground game thinking each would nullify the other. so im willing to reserve true judgement till his next fight. but i disgaree with your prasie of guida. lately the new guida has pulled off wins but they havent been too pretty, theyve been a sylviaesque standing lay and pray which may have pulled off the win, but bored me silly. diego fought and beat nick, id like to see how he handles nate diaz. but i miss the old diego that truly made opponents think he was a nightmare by the time the fight is over. id like to see him more agressive and dominating for his next 1.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Jak says:

    I think there is still a lot of questions…. He out pointed a mid tier fighter who’s not known for having great stand up in Joe Stevenson. I think the fact he didn’t finish him or ever put him in any kind of trouble should raise a lot of questions.

    The first one being… What happened to the old “Nightmare?”

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Rich S. says:

    omg,
    Stevenson is not a “mid tier” fighter.. He fought for the damn belt last year..

    and as for the old Nightmare,
    he’s too caught up in his striking to be the “old Nightmare”..

    The old Nightmare would pick you up, drop you on your head, and then proceed to do WHATEVER HE WANTS WITH YOU..

    this, “new” Nightmare, will strike with you, lacking any actual KO power, and likely get a decision..

    I wish these guys could be persuaded, but they can’t.. they just think they HAVE to strike..

    If I was the JJ beast that Diego is, i’d go straight to the ground in every fight..

    I mean, we’re talking about someone who simply OUTCLASSED Karo Parisyan AND Nick Diaz.. both on the ground..

    With that said,
    I think it’s clear that if he wanted to go to the ground,
    Diego could get some first round finishes on MOST of the LW division..

    He’s just got to want to..
    and right now..
    he doesn’t..

    I’m telling you,
    this striking fixation is going to get him knocked out sooner or later..

    no one’s safe from a knockout..
    just when you’re starting to think they are, that’s when it happens..

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Jak says:

    Stevenson fought for the belt because there wasn’t anybody else at the time and got crushed in the fight. Than got crushed by Florian the next time he fought a top LW.

    Mid tier fighter. definitely.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • wardog says:

    Diego showed no power at 155! His strikes were being laughed at by Stevenson who is not a good striker at all. Diego hit him with shots that should have knocked him out, and Stevenson laughed them off. Did he laugh during the Penn or Florian fights? If he does that in a fight with Sherk or Guida, I see Sanchez getting KO’d!

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • perfecto says:

    I agree stick with what you know best. Yeah we all like to see a nice knock out but not at the expence of a slow fight. Koscheck was a good example of what happens when you try to strike instead of just doing what you do best. Maybe Diego felt this would be a good fight to try stand up because he felt he was better and had no worries of being taken down but damn he might have beat him in the early rounds if he took Joe down. Although Deigo just beat a guy that fought for the belt that guy got destroyed so Joe isnt all that great I think Deigo needs a few more fights before championship talk.

    Damn Koscheck was mad huh lol.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Angry Mike says:

    Diego’s drop to 155 and game plan against Stevenson makes sense because of his height and reach advantages. Stevenson gave up 4″ in height, so Diego was able to keep him at the end of his strikes. Why go to the ground with advantages like that? Eventually Diego will run into another lightweight with good striking and comparable height and reach, like Neer, Florian, Maynard or Penn, and then I’d expect him to shoot and ground and pound. Fights with those guys will also be a benchmark for Diego’s striking and power.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • PlagueAngel says:

    I didn’t think Diego looked special at all at 155. If he expects to get fights with Sherk and Florian, he will need a few impressive victories. It pisses me off that Sherk has to prove himself to claim his title shot. We all know Florian is afraid of a rematch with Sherk. Now people are calling a fight with Diego and Sherk. I think Sherk is at a higher class.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  • Jstew3785 says:

    Joe Stevenson has looked awful in his last 4 fights. Everyone made such a big deal about Diego Sanchez fighting him, like he was one of the elite fighters at 155. That being said, Diego did not impress me at all. He couldn’t even put Joe away, and he hit him with everything he had. He clearly won the fight, but not in impressive fashion. Josh Neer looked pretty good in his last fight, I think that would be a good matchup for Diego. Someone who could match him size and strength. I really don’t think Diego is a contender at 155 just yet. He needs a couple more quality wins before he even thinks about a title shot. What he did at 170 or at 185 on TUF means nothing right now.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow 5OZ