The last time we saw Diego Sanchez in the cage was back in June when he faced Luigi Fioravanti at the TUF 7 Finale. We saw in that fight continued proof that the “old” Diego was back. Sanchez fans became somewhat concerned after his lackluster performance against Josh Koscheck at UFC 69 and then again when he lost to Jon Fitch at UFC 76. Up until those fights, the pride of Albuquerque had not known defeat in his professional MMA career.
Both of Diego’s losses came in 2007; his only two fights that year. Maybe it had something to do with how the planets were aligned because as soon as 2008 rolled around we saw Diego’s impressive first round victory over UFC newcomer, David Bielkheden and then another win three months later with his TKO over Fioravanti. By all appearances the Zen master had returned.
The UFC had Diego matched up at UFC 90 with Thiago Alves; a six-fight-streak-winnin’, Matt-Hughes-beatin’, Karo-Parisyan-dominatin’ “Pitbull” from Brazil. This was a very intriguing matchup and would have been an incredible test for Diego; possibly even the toughest fight of his career. However, due to a torn rib cartilage as reported by UFC.com “the Nightmare” will be able to sleep easy the rest of the month knowing there’s no dog nipping at his heels.
Score another point for the UFC as they once again step up when one of their fight cards loses someone important. Sanchez is out but stepping up to take his place is the very man who gave him his first professional loss, Josh Koscheck. Koscheck has only two losses; one to Drew Fickett by submission back in 2005 and the other is to the Welterweight Champion, Georges St. Pierre last year. Since his fight with GSP, Koscheck has gone on to defeat Chris Lytle and Dustin Hazelett, both in 2008.
What does Thiago Alves think of his new opponent? “Josh Koscheck is a great fighter and I think he’s an even better matchup for me,” said Alves. “I’m looking forward to fighting him, and I’m gonna knock him out.”
It also seems being a late replacement won’t be an issue when it comes to Koscheck’s condition, “I’ve been in training since Chris Lytle, I haven’t taken any time off.”
All three fighters, Alves, Koscheck, and Sanchez are top ten welterweights with Alves leading the pack. If Koscheck can pull off a win over Alves it will definitely move him closer to that number one contender spot. Most rankings show Alves at number three and Koscheck at four with Fitch and GSP heading up the division. Alves cemented his place as near the top of the welterweight division with a dominating second round TKO over Matt Hughes in June of this year.
October 25 is the date. Although Sanchez fans will no doubt be disappointed by the news of his injury and being pulled from the card, most will find solace knowing there will be no lessening of the talent pool at UFC 90.
Tickets for UFC 90 are on sale now. The event will take place in Chicago, IL and is headlined by a UFC Middleweight Title bout between Anderson Silva and Patrick Cote.