Stevenson welcomes Sanchez to lightweights!
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
Fans in the United Kingdom will be treated to a lightweight showdown this Saturday at UFC 95 as Joe “Daddy” Stevenson welcomes Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez to the 155 pound division.
The original Ultimate Fighter winner rides into this fight on a two fight win streak. Stevenson, on the other hand, is coming off a loss to current number one contender, Kenny “Ken Flo” Florian. Despite the setback, the 34-9 Stevenson says he feels great heading into the bout.
“I feel great coming into this fight,” he said. “I hit a turning point in the camp, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I’m hitting new levels. I feel great. I stayed off the Internet and just concentrated on myself and that’s what I feel like most fighters have to do. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
Stevenson may have the statistics on his side coming into Saturday night’s main event. Many fighters falter as a result of dropping a weight class. Even with the numbers favoring “Daddy,” don’t look for him to short change the always disciplined Sanchez. “I think Diego is such a professional that his first weight cut isn’t going to be a factor,” Stevenson said of his opponent. “He’s going to come in here 110%. It’d be very poor of me to think that he’s ill prepared.”
Sanchez says the drop to 155 is not permanent. The man fighting out of New Mexico is simply taking advantage of his youth in an attempt to carve out his legacy in the UFC.
“I don’t see myself staying at light weight forever,” the 21-2 Sanchez said. “One of the reasons I dropped to lightweight was so I could do it now in my 20s. When I get into my 30s, it’s hard to lose the weight. I haven’t had to really cut weight at 170 and having to fight guys like Jon Fitch is tough. I was a little on the outside in that division [in terms of size], but I did well.”
Should Sanchez emerge victorious against Stevenson, he believes he’ll be in contention for a shot at the coveted 155 pound crown currently held by BJ Penn.
“I think it’d be better to have a light weight title and a welterweight title under my belt before I retire,” he said. “I think a fight between me and BJ Penn would be a huge fight for me, the fans and the UFC. [Penn and I] match up great, but I’m not looking past Joe Stevenson, he’s a good fighter too.”
With neither fighter taking the other lightly, who has the advantage on paper? According to Stevenson, Sanchez has him beat in one minor area.
“As far as size, I think we’re both evenly matched,” Stevenson explained. “I’ve been at 170 in the past. The only difference I see is that Diego looks a lot better than me. I’m just an ok guy, so I think everyone will be cheering for him.”
Regardless of who comes out victorious, Stevenson assures the fans that they’ll be in for a great fight this Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight,” he said sizing up the match. “Everyone’s going to get a chance to see two guys at the peak of their performance levels going at it. If you combine our fights, we’ve got almost one hundred fights. Diego is not an easy fight for anyone—at any weight class.”