Diego Sanchez. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Diego Sanchez’s move to the lightweight division has been made official. The former middleweight winner of the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will take on another winner of the reality show, Joe Stevenson in a bout that will headline the UFC’s return to England for UFC 95 on February 21.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the matchup at the post-fight press conference for UFC 92 early Sunday morning.
After defeating Kenny Florian at The Ultimate Fighter Finale in April 2005, Sanchez moved down to the welterweight division where he racked up a 7-2 record, including a five-fight winning streak that saw Sanchez win a decision over Karo Parisyan and score a knockout of Joe Riggs.
Sanchez, a product of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, most recently competed at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale in June, where he stopped Luigi Fioravanti with strikes in the third round of their fight. Prior to that, Sanchez forced UFC newcomer David Bielkheden to submit to strikes at UFC 82.
Stevenson, the welterweight winner of the second season of “TUF”, has struggled as of late, losing two out of his last three bouts. Stevenson won a decision over Luke Cummo to claim the “TUF 2” welterweight title in 2005, but abruptly lost his next fight to Josh Neer.
However Stevenson bounced back with a four-fight winning streak that resulting in him earning a shot at the vacant UFC lightweight title against B.J. Penn at UFC 80 this past January. Penn submitted Stevenson in a bloody war, and the California native took a six-month hiatus before defeating Gleison Tibau at UFC 86 in his following fight. Stevenson last fell to Kenny Florian in the co-main event of UFC 91 on November 15.
Other fights rumored to take place at UFC 95 include Nate Marquardt facing Wilson Gouveia and Justin Buchholz going up against Terry Etim.
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