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UFC 95 Recap: Diego Sanchez Shines At Lightweight

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First of all let me apologize for the late start.  I had a long program at church today.  Man, what an event last night!  I knew this card had some intriguing match ups, but the event turned out much better than I thought it would be. We got to see what 9 fights, and all of them were entertaining.  We had the stunning upset of Josh Koscheck, Diego Sanchez shining at lightweight, and my personal favorite of Chael Sonnen tapping like Gregory Hines.  The pacing of the fights was pretty good as well, even with all of the commercials.  On to my thoughts on the fights:

Josh Koscheck vs. Paulo Thiago-Well, Koscheck was pretty much having his way up until he experienced a Chuck Liddellism and 'just got caught'.  If you match those two guys again I think Koscheck mauls him.  It was just one of those things that happens in the unpredictable sport of MMA.  It'll be interesting to see how Koscheck responds.  This loss also provides an opening for someone like Anthony Johnson or Mike Swick to move up in the pecking order of the stacked welterweight division.  As far as Thiago goes, I'll give him credit for the win but I wasn't impressed by his performance prior to the combo that put Koscheck down.

Chael Sonnen vs. Demian Maia-This was my personal favorite part of the event.  I had grown sick and tired of Sonnen running off at the mouth about how he could beat Anderson Silva etc.  I'm also a big fan of Maia's and his quick sub of Sonnen was sweet to watch.  The transition from top position to locking in the triangle was dope, and I knew it was over at that point.  Maia is the real deal and should receive a title shot next.  I know Marquardt won impressively over Gouveia, but Maia hasn't lost in the UFC and has subbed EVERY opponent.  He's threat to Anderson Silva.  For real.

Wilson Gouveia vs. Nate Marquardt-This fight went just how I thought it would for the most part.  However, Marquardt showed more aggression than I thought he would and was able to put Gouveia away.  That combo that ended the fight was DOPE!  Marquardt is a threat to Anderson Silva as well, but as I said earlier, Maia deserves the next shot IMO.  Gouveia is a good fighter, I'd let him and Sonnen mix it up.

Dan Hardy vs. Rory Markham-I knew Hardy was capable of what he did, but I didn't think it would happen that fast.  That counter was very nice and packed a LOT of power.  The UFC has another UK star in the making with Hardy.  He talks a good game and is fairly exciting to watch.  I'd keep an eye out for him.  As far as Markham, he's someone that comes to fight so I'd like to see him come back. 

Junior dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve-Man, dos Santos throws BOMBS.  Honestly, I still don't know how to look at him right now.  He's kinda like Sokoudjou was when he burst on the scene in PRIDE.  His victories have been so quick that we haven't had the chance to properly see everything he brings to the table.

Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson-Diego's boxing looked really crisp, and he worked some nice combinations.  I thought more of the fight would be on the ground, but I think Sanchez realized that he had better standup and just went with it.  The weight cut had no effect on him, and he's gonna be a factor in the lightweight division.  After that performance I'm curious to see how he and Florian would match up now.  I wrote earlier this week that Stevenson needed a win badly.  It'll be interesting to see what the UFC does with him after this loss.  He's a good fighter, but I don't think he beats any of the top guys in the UFC lightweight division.  I think a move over to the WEC lightweight division would be his best bet.  He would win some fights and give a shot in the arm to the WEC brand.  It would also give Jamie Varner another credible challenger.

What are your thoughts on the fights and on a scale of 1-10 where would you rate UFC 95?