Diego Silences Critics

August 22, 2005

Diego Sanchez and Brian Gassaway at UFC 54The success of the “Ultimate Fighter” reality show has been proven time and time again, and Diego”Nightmare” Sanchez, the winner of the middleweight division from the first season, showed again why he was the best by defeating Brian Gassaway at UFC 54 on Saturday night. Sanchez was one of the more enigmatic fighters in the house during the first season, which garnered him more than a few critics that were quick to criticize his personality and supreme confidence when it came fight time.

Diego Sanchez was probably one of the most experienced fighters going into the first season of the “Ultimate Fighter” show, already sporting an impressive undefeated record along with holding the King of the Cage welterweight title. Despite fighting out of his true weight class of 170lbs he dominated pretty much every aspect of the fights that he had on the show. Due to a few nagging injuries, Diego’s debut to the pay per view fans had to be delayed and thus he was the last of the “Ultimate Fighter” participants to make their first official UFC appearance.

A great many fans have spoken out against Diego mostly because of the fact that he never backs down from telling people that he believes he is the best welterweight fighter in the world. Obviously, Diego has a long way to go to reach the status that Matt Hughes has built as champion, but a fighter who is not afraid to speak up and believes in himself is a great commodity in the sport. In his first official fight for the UFC, Sanchez took on kickboxing expert and training partner to Shonie Carter, Brian Gassaway.

Gassaway was none too short on words about his opponent saying that he was unimpressed with his takedowns and vowed to knockout the “Ultimate Fighter” winner. Although Gassaway did land a few shots, he was largely neutralized by Sanchez’s ground skills. The fight may have very well come to an end in the first round with Diego reigning down punches and elbows from the mount, but Gassaway was able to keep him off guard by using his long legs to reach against the cage and attempt to buck Sanchez off.

The second round was more of the same. Gassaway did manage to land a solid jab to Diego to start the round but again, the fight ended up on the ground with Diego in the mount position, this time in the center of the octagon. Sanchez unloaded punch after punch, leaving Gassaway no other option than to tap out under the pressure. After the fight it was announced that Gassaway had multiple broken bones around his eye socket, and a stoppage was definitely needed.

In his post fight interview with Joe Rogan, Diego Sanchez seemed more humble than what a lot of fans had slammed him for saying previously, but he still showed a world of confidence and was happy with his victory. At 170lbs, Diego will have the strength and the skill to compete with any welterweight. His ground and submission skills are second to none and training with Greg Jackson and his camp will yield positive results for his stand-up game as well.

Diego Sanchez is obviously not quite ready to take on a top 2 or 3 guy in the welterweight division, mostly because that weight class is very stacked right now, but the UFC would be well served to showcase Diego in a fight with someone like Drew Fickett or possibly Jason “Mayhem” Miller. A win over either of those fighters would do well to help Sanchez’s already rising stock. The future looks very good for Diego Sanchez and as he said after defeating Kenny Florian in the “Ultimate Fighter” finale…the Nightmare is not going anywhere.
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