Without a doubt, BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is the best 155 pound in the world. There is no one in the division that can touch him. Most 155 pound fighters can’t even touch him BUT Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez is not a 155 pound fighter.
It might be surprising to most that you would choose Diego Sanchez to beat BJ Penn but he has problems with bigger fighters and he has problems with fighters that like to press the action. That and the +220 online sports betting odds, leads me to lay my money on the underdog in this fight.
Diego is a slightly better wrestling and he has better striking. The real determining factor in why he will win this fight is pace. Diego Sanchez will push the pace of the fight and he will pressure the fights. BJ Penn likes to control his mixed martial arts fights but when a fighter takes control of the pace they usually are able to dictate and beat BJ.
Also BJ Penn has problems with fighters that are bigger and stronger than him. Penn lost to Georges St Pierre twice because GSP was bigger and he pushed the pace of the fight. Penn lost to Matt Hughes because he was not in shape and near the end of the fight Hughes pushed the pace and he was a bigger fighter.
Diego Sanchez is a big 155 pound fighter. He is normally a welterweight fighter and could even fight at middleweight if he wanted to. He will cut a lot of weigh coming into this fight and after his weight cut, Sanchez will most likely be at 170 pounds fight day. He will be a much larger and more powerful fighter and he will pose Penn some problems because of Diego’s size.
Size will play big role in this fight, and Penn has not done so well with fighters that are bigger than him. BJ dominates same size fighters like he did with Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk. But remember Sanchez is the bigger fighter and that is a major factor when fighting BJ Penn.
Diego is a fighter that is always in shape and he will pressure Penn as soon as the fight starts. He will be able to back Penn up with his aggressive pressure and confuse him with his strikes and kicks. After the first two rounds Penn will be exhausted trying to keep up with Diego’s’ pace. When Penn fought Matt Hughes the second time he was dominating him but by round 3 he was out of gas and Hughes turned it up. His last fight with St Pierre he was getting thrown off his game and by round 4 he could not continue. If Diego can push the pace he will tire out Penn and take the fight in the latter rounds.
While most people need a decade or more to become a black belt, Penn got his black belt with only three years of training. BJ Penn is known for his jiu-jitsu but if you look at his record in MMA he wins all of his fights by rear naked choke. Now if you break down his grappling game he dominates the grappling game because he is equal in weight. If Diego Sanchez were the same weight and size he most likely would dominate the fight.
However, Diego is no slouch on the ground. His no gi game is very good and has even competed at the ADCC 2005 Absolute Division championships. The Abu Dhabi is the most prestigious grapping tournament in the world which is something BJ Penn has never competed in before. Diego won his first fight at the ADCC and lost his second fight to Marcelo Garcia who is considered to be one of the best grapplers in the world. That was when Diego never even competed with a gi before. In 2005, Sanchez wrestled for his high school in New Mexico before starting training MMA with Greg Jackson at Jackson’s Submission Fighting which is considered to be the best MMA trainer in the world. Despite never using a gi in grappling Diego has a very tight grappling game.
Striking wise you have to give a slight edge to Diego. Diego will have the reach and power advantage in the striking. He will be the bigger fighter and he can push off and jab his punches so BJ Penn will not to get in close. Technically BJ Penn is a better striker with better fundamentals but he will be confused with the sheer amount of strikes and the reach.
Bottom Line: Remember Diego Sanchez was a format member of the Greg Jackson team and Jackson was in the corner when GSP fought Penn so Sanchez will fight a similar fight that St Pierre fought. Sanchez will be prepared for this fight and he will shock many.
I love the fact that Sanchez is the bigger, stronger and more aggressive fighter. These are the three factors that BJ Penn has troubles with in fighters. UFC sports betting wise the +220 betting odds are perfect and I would lay a small amount on the money line for Diego to win this fight. I don’t think Diego has the power to knock out Penn or the grappling skill to sub him but he has have the power and strength to win the stand and get the take down points.
He also has the skill in top position to have an effective ground and pound. If he is in Penn’s guard, he will do the exact same thing GSP did and use his size and power to punish Penn. The Ribeiro brothers will show him how to fight effectively in the guard. If Diego stays in the top position he can control the ground game. If Penn is on to it will be over. However, Penn will have a hard time getting top position or taking Diego’s back since he is the bigger stronger fighter.
I do believe Diego does not have the skills to beat Penn but he has the stamina and power to hurt Penn and bring this fight late into the rounds. By the time Penn hits the forth round he will be gassed and that’s when Sanchez will take over. The best bet is to bet on the UFC prop bet for Diego to win by decision. He will hurt and confuse Penn with his strikes and kicks. BJ will not be able to close the distance because he is the smaller fighter. BJ Penn has a lot to look out for in this fight like strikes, kicks, takedowns and the ground and pound while Sanchez only has to worry not giving up his back or being on the bottom.
Look for Diego Sanchez to be the New UFC Lightweight Champion with a Split Decision