UFC 121: Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago Prediction

UFC Welterweight bout:  Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago

Odds:  ( +100 Sanchez / -130 Thiago )

Betting Pick:  Paulo Thiago

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In the third bout, Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez, coming off two disappointing losses in a row, will look to get back into the win column against tough as nails Brazilian Paulo Thiago. Thiago has been thrown in with the sharks repeatedly since debuting in the UFC, and Sanchez is another really tough fight for him, so this is an interesting matchup and an important one for both guys’ careers.

Despite his recent setbacks, Diego Sanchez has had a very successful UFC career since winning the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter. A solid wrestler with good ground and pound and an effective submission game to back it up, Sanchez makes his opponents’ lives miserable by keeping up a relentless place from bell to bell and overwhelming them with aggression. When Sanchez has a problem is when he can’t force his opponents onto the defensive and when his wrestling is stifled. If he is forced to rely on his standup against Thiago, he is going to be in a lot of trouble.

Thiago is also a very well-rounded fighter, although he lacks the wrestling acumen that Sanchez has. He makes up for it though by having vastly superior striking with a lot more power and better submissions as well. When you consider the level of opposition he has faced in the UFC, Thiago’s record is extremely impressive. The only thing that has held him back so far is his inability to deal with superior wrestlers. There is no doubt that Sanchez is a better wrestler than Thiago, but he is not as dominant as Fitch or Martin Kampmann so it remains to be seen whether he will be able to put Thiago off his game.

I think the edge in this one has to go to Thiago. On the feet he is way better than Sanchez, and even if Sanchez manages to get this fight to the ground, Thiago is very good at sweeping, escaping, and submitting opponents. I think Sanchez is going to have trouble taking Thiago down though, and that spells disaster. Thiago should win the striking exchanges easily and stuff enough takedowns and neutralize Sanchez on the ground enough to earn the decision win.

Prediction:  Paulo Thiago via unanimous decision.

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