The second fight to end by an illegal knee in a single night at UFC Rio Rancho saw Diego Sanchez pick up a DQ win in a fight opponent Michel Pereira simply dominated.
The co-main event of UFC Rio Rancho was bound to be an interesting one. Diego Sanchez, the original Ultimate Fighter who has been both a dream and a nightmare throughout his career, was fighting essentially at home. Gone from Jackson-Wink MMA, but still with plenty of fire left in him. Opposite Sanchez, a massive welterweight known for his flashy fight style: Michel Pereira. Just two fights into his UFC career, and Pereira had earned a reputation as a must-watch fighter.
Pereira, as expected, danced his way out to the octagon, much to the displeasure of the partisan crowd in Rio Rancho, who were wholly in the corner of the legendary Diego Sanchez. ‘The Nightmare’ looked to be all business as he entered the cage, for his part.
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Sanchez opened with a rolling thunder kick. Seriously. Taking a page out of Pereira’s book. Pereira showed some restraint early, but connected with a front kick then pulled off a jump kick, flying knee, kitchen sink, then another front kick. Not too sure about the kitchen sink but the rest probably happened. Pereira targeted the body, with both his hands and kicks, walking Sanchez down as ‘The Nightmare’ circled. Sanchez would try for a level change, but Pereira easily evaded it. More successfully, Sanchez connected with a leg kick, but Pereira moved in with a combo, then a knee to the body. Another knee followed. Sanchez tried some rolling thunder again, missed, then charged at Pereira. Pereira pushed off the fence for an attack just before the buzzer.
Pereira landed a kick to the body early in the second. Sanchez landed to his opponent’s leg. With his back to the fence, he went high with a kick, but later was hit by a counter. Pereira was showing excellent cage control. His strikes weren’t connecting clean, but it felt like a matter of time. Pereira then connected to the body, went on the attack, and tried a jump knee. Sanchez reversed, but Pereira turned them back around. Pereira was changing stances, although Sanchez was able to land to the body with a kick. A clean right cross then sent Sanchez reeling. A moment later, Sanchez answered back with a blow of his own. Suddenly it was Pereira’s back to the fence, but that didn’t last long, and he went on the attack. Another flying knee attack soon had Sanchez under fire. In the final ten seconds, Pereira took the back, hoisted Sanchez up, and slammed him down for a takedown.
At the start of the third, Pereira seemed to be doing a little showboating, using a sideways karate stance, bouncing side to side. When Sanchez fanned on a spinning back fist, Pereira took him down. A moonsault followed, but didn’t land (at least, as much as they ever do). Pereira then came out of a scramble on the attack, landed a knee, got Sanchez down, and landed a hammer fist before Sanchez scrambled free. Later, Pereira would connect with a knee. But a second knee had the ref call time due to Sanchez being a downed opponent. The ref indicated he’d be taking a point. But asked if he could continue, Sanchez said he couldn’t see. He asked to speak to his coach. That wasn’t allowed, but Sanchez was overheard saying the blow was illegal and should be a DQ. He indicated he could not continue.
This was the second DQ due to an illegal knee on the night, the first coming in Brok Weaver’s debut.
Even reserved, Michel Pereira is nuts, frankly. That’s your takeaway from UFC Rio Rancho. Of course, so is Diego Sanchez, but more nuts was his approach to the fight. The illegal blow changed to course of the fight, but failing that, Sanchez was on his way to a lopsided loss.
Official Result: Diego Sanchez def. Michel Pereira by DQ (illegal knee), Round 3, 3:09