Diego “The Dream” Sanchez in a boring fight is like the moon up close, few people have ever seen it.
Yet, Sanchez is coming off a relatively even-keeled win over Jim Miller at UFC 196. His performance has led many to wonder whether a change has occurred in the Jackson-Wink fighter. It is not only this most recent fight in which a departure has been made apparent.
For his last several fights, Sanchez has changed much about his strategy, attack and style. So, which version of “The Dream” will we see on July 9th , 2016? Will it be the rabid dog of old or the learned veteran of dozens of brutal fights? His March 5th , 2016 fight against Miller may have marked a departure from his fan friendly style. But that might not be a bad thing.
Sure, if the Albuquerque resident continues on this path he can expect to miss out on a few fight of the night awards. He might even lose on his drawing power and ability to earn high profile fights. In my opinion though, this change can only be beneficial.
For one, Sanchez’s career can be lengthened considerably if he chooses not to live on his chin to such an extreme degree. That diminished risk also means an increased possibility for winning more fights based on out-pointing opponents instead of relying on the finish.
While one could argue his risky style is the reason for his success, his departure is not a complete one. We did see flashes of the Sanchez of old in his last fight but his overall performance was increasingly measured. Moreover, this shift in style is not a recent one. In fact only one out of his last seven wins has been by stoppage. No one would argue that he lacks the will or means to end fights before the final bell. Yet, his current record appears to represent a fighter who has begun to change his reckless ways.
While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of a temperate Sanchez, his upcoming performance will be one to add to our deliberations.
For his part, Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon hasn’t changed much over the years. Like Sanchez, he is no stranger to exciting fights – his 13 UFC performance bonuses are the second most in company history. While they have eerily similar records (26-8 Sanchez and 25-11 Lauzon), their fighting styles to differ quite a bit (not in ability but in preference). Lauzon obviously prefers to grapple, while Sanchez likes to stand and bang.
However, this preference isn’t indicative of skill level. Sanchez has been highly lauded as a grappler, while Lauzon’s standup is increasingly improving. In fact, the two both have six wins by KO/TKO, which is odd considering their contrasting styles.
“J-Lau” has never really gotten the kind of credit he deserves – perhaps as a result of his win one, lose one record. Still, he has been and remains a tough test for anyone at 155 lbs.
It says a great deal about these two that after 10 years in the UFC they continue to remain relevant. While he appears to have changed his approach, as of late, “The Dream” continues to put on exciting fights. In contrast, Lauzon’s style hasn’t changed much over the years. He continues to play the part of the wily and gritty veteran, willing to trade wherever the fight may go.
On July 9th, 2016, two of the UFC’s most intelligent, talented and accomplished independent contractors will face off in what is sure to be fight of the night. While Sanchez’s reformation seems to be complete, a fight against Lauzon is sure to bring out the old demon we know and love.
The saying goes: You don’t change what got you to the dance. Sanchez intends to challenge that notion.