by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Diego Sanchez Still Undefeated
Ultimate Fighter Proves He Belongs At The Top
UFC Fight Night Breakdown

Respect is not given, it’s earned…and after proving just about everyone wrong yet again, Diego Sanchez looked very strong in his unanimous decision win over top ranked contender Karo Parisyan at Ultimate Fight Night.

In an absolute war, Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan went 3 full rounds and put on the fight of the night if not the best fight so far this year, displaying takedown after takedown, with each fighter almost pulling out multiple submissions and landing good ground and pound throughout. The first round started with a feverish pace and the fight was almost finished when Sanchez landed a wicked shot that stunned Parisyan, opening a cut underneath his eye causing obvious discomfort, which then led to Sanchez taking his back and almost sinking in a rear naked choke.

Parisyan persevered and was able to recover from the early shot but had to wipe his eye multiple times from the cut which definitely affected his performance for the remainder of the fight. The 2nd round saw Parisyan take over after listening to the advice of his cornerman, Tito Ortiz, when he started to throw some stiff jabs that put Diego on the defensive. Karo proved once again that judo can work in MMA when he unleashed a few different throws that put Diego on his back and landing on his head a couple of times. Karo looked strong but Diego fought back multiple times reversing positions on the ground, staying out of any real trouble.

The third round saw a very fresh Diego Sanchez versus an extremely tired Karo Parisyan. While Karo did manage a good slam during the round, Sanchez worked some very solid stand-up and got takedowns of his own, and gained top control at the very end of the round, opening up some powerful shots leaving a good closing image for the judges scoring the fight. To no one’s surprise after a very strong third round, Diego Sanchez was announced as the unanimous decision winner.

In his post fight interview, Diego sounded confident but humble saying that he will fight anyone and if he’s given a title shot then so be it. At this point it though, it has to be almost a forgone conclusion that Diego Sanchez will be next in line for a welterweight title shot and he will surely be watching the title fight at UFC 63 between Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre with great interest.

Chris Leben returned to the Octagon for the first time since been knocked out by Anderson Silva and pulled off an impressive KO over veteran fighter, Jorge Santiago. In the opening round it seemed like Leben was a bit more tentative than he had been in previous fights and almost looked like he didn’t learn much from his loss when he came straight ahead with his hands open and chin up, much like he did when he got dominated by Silva standing up. To Leben’s credit he was able to get ground control but Santiago countered and who actually won the first round was a toss up.

The 2nd round was very short lived because at just past the :30 second mark, Leben caught Santiago with a hard left sending him crashing to the canvas, to which “The Crippler” followed up with a couple more unanswered shots causing referee Herb Dean to jump in and stop the fight. Leben did sound much more focused with his comments after the fight, not calling out Anderson Silva or trying to call his last fight a fluke. He sounded confident that he still wants the middleweight title and this win will help to get him back to contender status.

In middleweight action, submission wizard and Abu Dhabi world champion Dean Lister took on Japanese veteran Yuki Sasaki. Lister looked strong in both the 1st and 2nd rounds, going for submission after submission, almost sinking a rear naked choke a few different times. At one point in the fight Lister had a deep triangle choke sunk in on his opponent and to Sasaki’s credit, most fighters probably would have given up in the same position but he was able to withstand and fight his way out but lost the round as Lister dominated the entire time.

The final round was a struggle for both fighters and they looked exhausted. Lister’s hands were down almost the entire time and if it wasn’t for Sasaki being equally tired he had every opportunity to finish the fight standing but unfortunately he could never get enough energy together to unleash any real power on Lister and the fight ended. The judges scored the bout with a unanimous decision going to Dean Lister who promised to come back for his next fight with better cardio and endurance.

If Diego Sanchez is still looking for respect than he has a friend in former housemate from the Ultimate Fighter season 1, Josh Koscheck, who despite only having one loss on his record still endures much criticism for playing it safe in many of his fights, using his obvious wrestling skill to control the pace but never looking overwhelming at any point. That criticism was proven dead wrong when Koscheck overpowered and simply decimated Canadian fighter Jonathan Goulet in their fight.

Koscheck came out with much improved stand-up and despite the fact that Goulet was touted as a much better kickboxer, it was Koscheck who landed a heavy shot early on that floored his opponent. The former NCAA champion wrestler didn’t waste any time pouncing on Goulet and within just moments he had his back and Koscheck first looked for a choke but then transitioned to flattening his opponent out and started to reign down shot after shot, and eventually Goulet tapped from the bottom. Koscheck looked very strong and if he’s able to repeat that performance, it won’t be long before he’s listed as a top contender in the welterweight division.

The only preliminary bout that made the television broadcast saw Joe Riggs back at 170lbs yet again taking on another Ultimate Fighter veteran, Jason “Livewire” Von Flue. Riggs looked strong and kept good composure in the fight, something he hadn’t done in his preview few bouts. Eventually, Riggs sunk in a deep triangle choke that caught Von Flue off guard and he tapped out after struggling in the attempt to get out. The win should help Riggs gain back some of the confidence he has surely lost over the last year while on the rollercoaster between middleweight and welterweight and will most likely be back in the UFC in the near future.

Overall, UFC Fight Night was a great show with every fight providing action and all the competitors going for the win at all times. The card was jammed pack with good fights and all in all it was top notch from beginning to end.