Diego Sanchez hadn’t fought in front of his hometown of Albuquerque since 2004 when he stepped into the Octagon on Saturday to take on Ross Pearson in the UFC Fight Night 42 co-main event. Coming off back-to-back losses, Sanchez was in desperate need of a win. And he got one wrapped in controversy.
Pearson was able to effectively stick and move in the opening round, landing counter shots as Sanchez moved forward.
He continued to counter Sanchez in the second frame. With a minute remaining in the round Pearson delivered a right hand that dropped Sanchez. Sanchez immediately bounced back to his feet and urged Pearson to engage. He flurried in the final seconds, but Pearson clearly won the round.
Sanchez picked up his output in the final frame, but Pearson slipped out of the way of most of the strikes and returned fire. The Brit stayed composed and picked Sanchez apart with strikes. At the end of fifteen minutes of fighting, it looked as if Pearson had clearly won all three rounds. Two of the three judges saw it differently.
When the scorecards were read revealing Sanchez the winner, the Albuquerque crowd erupted in cheers as Pearson stood in disbelief.
“You never know when it’s in the judges' hands,” said Sanchez after the win. “I felt I was going for it more. I felt I was going for the big finishes. It was a great fight. I take my hat off to Ross.”
UFC broadcaster Kenny Florian summed up the decision in his final comments on the fight. “I am still in shock and in disbelief on that decision. I thought Ross Pearson had an easy decision win,” said Florian. “Diego Sanchez, I love you, but Ross Pearson won that fight. And a 30-27 for Diego Sanchez, those judges should be ashamed.”
(Follow @JeffMMAWeekly on Twitter)