Diego Sanchez. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Coming into a fight between two well-round fighters like Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson, it’s hard to pick a winner right off the bat. Often times, we look to the factors outside of the fight. In this case, it’s the fact that Saturday’s bout will be Sanchez’s first at lightweight and that Stevenson has lost two out of his last three fights and hasn’t looked good at all in defeat.
So what about the fight itself? Luke Thomas says that Stevenson’s past should give us something to look for:
Sanchez’s legendary tenacity and offensive-opportunistic style is kryptonite against Stevenson, who has shown a propensity to be overwhelmed by adept, aggressive grapplers. Grapplers with what I call “transition and position emphasis” that can also use balance, base, posture and submission defense to unload ground and pound also give Stevenson trouble. There’s little doubt Stevenson is an excellent submission wrestler, but his willingness to play defense too long in the face of heavy storms has been - and likely will be this weekend - his undoing.
Luke is right. Stevenson folded under the pressure that B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian brought upon him and the same thing happened when he lost to Josh Neer in his first UFC fight after winning “TUF”. Unless Diego makes a mistake and Stevenson is able to catch him in a quick submission, I just don’t see him winning this fight.
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