Saturday night, Diego Sanchez made his return to the Lightweight division at UFC On Fuel 8. He faced off against former Pride champion Takanori Gomi in a hard fought three round affair. While many thought Gomi should get the nod, two of the three judges in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan scored it for Sanchez and awarded him the split decision victory.
In his post-fight interview, Diego defended the decision while showing nothing but respect for his opponent (via MMA Weekly):
I feel I earned the victory. I went out there, did more damage, got the first round and Takanori Gomi, taking nothing away from him, he is a legend for a reason. This was the Japan version of Gomi. This is Gomi fighting in front of his people, his crowd, and that is the legend that was the Pride Champion.
Sanchez struggled to make weight for his return to the 155 lb. division, coming in 2 pounds over the non-title fight limit at 158 lbs. Now that he has the initial complications out of the way, he’s already looking forward to his next fight and he’s aiming high:
He has a fight lined up, but the fight I want is Nate Diaz. I want to be the first one to say I beat both Diaz brothers and I have got the bigger brother on my resume already, so now I want the little brother. Our styles make for an awesome, awesome fight.
As “The Dream” mentioned, Nate already has his hands full as he’s scheduled to fight Josh Thomson at UFC On Fox 7 on April 20. Although, on a pure rankings standpoint the fight doesn’t really make sense, it could still happen. Even if Nate wins in April, he’s still far from a title shot, since he was handily defeated by Ben Henderson back in December. While Sanchez is significantly lower than him on the LW totem pole right now, he’s a recognizable name that the UFC may not mind pairing him against to keep the younger Diaz busy.
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