By: Tim Mutohfan
Diego Sanchez has his new opponent for the UFC’s first trip into Mexico. He was originally booked to face Irishman Norman Parke, but a knee injury did away with that matchup. Then the Twitter-sphere was abuzz with rumor and speculation after Tweets from rising Irish star Conor McGregor stating that he was in fact going to be fighting Diego in Mexico City. Funny thing about that is Conor made these claims before it was even announced that Parke had to withdraw. Then Dana White said “That kid is nuts. No he is not. He wants to but he is not.”
Not long after that Parke’s injury was announced and for a brief fleeting moment the Sanchez vs. McGregor matchup seemed at least possible.
Enter Joe Lauzon, he is the man to take on Diego Sanchez in Mexico City on November 15th. This is the fight that makes more sense. Seeing Conor rile up the Mexican faithful could be promotional gold. Give him a hot mic and a good translator and let him do the thing he does second best…talk his ass off. Alas that will not be the case. I guess instead of Conor’s brash gift of the gab will give way to the blood and carnage that usually accompanies Lauzon and Sanchez no matter who they are facing. Some would suggest we are better for it. C’est la vie.
There are mortal solitudes in this deal.
A. Diego Sanchez is the hometown guy, the fans will be behind him and they will be vocal
B. Neither man comes to pussy foot around; don’t even think these guys aren’t coming to fight.
C. This is the early favorite for Fight of the Night.
There is a “D” of course, but that can’t be summed up in just a few words. And that would be why Sanchez vs. Lauzon makes more sense. From the fan’s perspective, a guy like Conor McGregor is electric, so he and Diego Sanchez fighting in the 22,300 seat Arena Ciudad de Mexico would be an amazing sight. We all know Diego’s Mexican-American heritage will inspire the locals with Conor McGregor cast as the heel is gold.
All that is a great reason to make that fight, I can’t think of many fans that wouldn’t love to see it. But, who benefits? Well if Conor McGregor could be the first man to stop Diego Sanchez (we all know BJ Penn stopped him, but that was a doctor’s stoppage, not exactly the same thing I’m talking about here), but what exactly does he gain from that. He beat a fighter whose best days are long past him. It would be a nice feather is his cap, but at what risk? He has a strong claim on a future featherweight title shot. Would losing to Diego Sanchez at lightweight derail that? Some would say no, while others would argue a loss is a loss, regardless of extemporaneous circumstances like a fighter fighting out of his natural weight class and short notice on top of that. With all that glimmer that surrounds the potential of this fight, there is far too much to lose.
Joe Lauzon isn’t going to talk them in like Conor McGregor will, but he does come to fight and he does it in a very fan friendly way. He isn’t the all-time leader in UFC performance bonuses because he eats all his vegetables, he is the all-time leader in UFC performance bonuses because when that cage door closes, no man or woman brought the fight quite like Joe Lauzon. And this fight is no exception, especially with Diego Sanchez as his foil.
Diego is no stranger to action packed fights either; it’s as much his calling card as anyone else’s. The man is tied for fifth all-time with Frankie Edgar for Fight of the Night awards with 7. We can get into the wear and tear Diego has suffered throughout his career, there are obvious signs of pugilist dementia, but that isn’t what this is about (although it should be stated I hope Diego is considering retirement very soon). I don’t think putting on a boring lackluster fight is in Diego’s DNA.
So, instead of pining away over not getting to see Conor vs. Diego, look at the bright side, we do get to see Diego vs. Joe Lauzon. As fight fans we are hardly losing out.
UFC 180: Velasquez vs. Werdum
Heavyweight Championship: Cain Velasquez (C) vs. Fabricio Werdum
Lightweight: Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Lauzon
Welterweight: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Jake Ellenberger
Featherweight: Ricardo Lamas vs. Dennis Bermudez
Bantamweight: Erik Perez vs. Marcus Brimage
Welterweight: Edgar Garcia vs. Hector Urbina
Women’s Bantamweight: Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
This fight card also features the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, featherweight and bantamweight tournaments.