WelterweightsNR | Michel Pereira (23-10) vs. NR | Diego Sanchez (29-12)
ODDS: Pereira (-160), Sanchez (+140)
The first winner of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Sanchez has managed to outlast every one of his peers and has gone somewhat full-circle as a result. Starting his career as an aggressive wrestler, Sanchez eventually made his hay turning that style into aggressive brawling, participating in repeated “Fight of the Year” contenders and even winning a bunch of questionable decisions through sheer aggression. That continued through UFC 200, which figured to be a historic event, and indeed wound up being the night that Sanchez’s legendary chin was finally cracked—and by Joe Lauzon of all people. That started a run where Sanchez would get quickly knocked out by whoever tried. After some time, Sanchez went back to relying on his wrestling and has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance as a result. After handling Craig White and Mickey Gall, Michael Chiesa was too much for Sanchez to handle, although that looks a bit more understandable after Chiesa’s win over Rafael dos Anjos in January. Despite it probably being best for his health, Sanchez has shown little sign of wanting to slow down his career. As for right now, he returns home for what should certainly be a weird fight against Pereira.
Pereira is an instructive example on the benefits of showmanship versus actual success. He was signed after a series of viral performances in South Korea, where the Brazilian essentially decided to do whatever came to mind against overmatched competition: backflips, somersaults, random jumps off the cage, you name it. Pereira figured to be more of a curiosity than actual contender, but after a scintillating knockout of Danny Roberts in his UFC debut in May, there was some interest in how far “Demolidor” could take his crowd-pleasing style. Turns out, it was not very far, as he endured one of the more memorable losses of 2019 against Tristan Connelly. A natural lightweight, Connelly stepped in on late notice and basically avoided danger for a round as Pereira flipped around the cage and tired himself out. Still, Pereira’s approach has its benefits, and he apparently did not suffer much with the loss. All the mainstream media attention after the fight was more about Pereira’s theatrics than the result, and he now finds himself further up the card while Connelly is scheduled for a preliminary bout in April. Such is life.
This will be entertaining for however long it lasts, but there is not much to analyze here. Sanchez will charge forward and either find himself decapitated within the first minute or score a takedown that effectively ends the fight, given that the American should be able to tire Pereira in short order. In what amounts to a pure coinflip, the pick is Sanchez via second-round stoppage.
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