More like 2005.
Leading up to the TUF 1 Finale, Diego Sanchez defeated Josh Koscheck via decision. This was not a controversial win in any way, as Sanchez was the clear victor. By the end of that fight, however, there were several things analysts could take with them.
Josh Koschek was the better overall wrestler. - Koscheck basically showed the ability to consistently take Sanchez down and keep him there for periods of time.
Diego Sanchez was the far better submission fighter. - Even though Koscheck was able to get Sanchez to the ground on numerous occasions, he still lost a lot of points there. Why? Simply because Sanchez tried submission after submission (and nearly caught him in several). Though Koschek showed some resourcefulness in escaping these, Sanchez's advantages in this arena were quite clear.
Diego Sanchez was the far better striker. - At the time of this fight, Koschek was really just a great wrestler competing on an MMA reality show. Thus, when his fight was over with Sanchez, he was pretty beat up. Much of this beating came in the stand up game.
So, there's the history lesson. But on April 7, 2007 at UFC 69 these two are going to square off again, possibly for the right to battle for the UFC Welterweight Championship. Thus, the question is, has anything changed since the last time they met?
For the answer, read on.
In other words, Sanchez may be an outstanding wrestler; but Koschek is on another level.
Submission fighting -Since TUF 1, it appears that Koschek has improved his submission skills tremendously. In seven fights since the show, he's done away with four fighters via submission (one of these was due to strikes). Further, Koscheck has never been submitted in the nine professional MMA fights he's competed in (he's 9-1 in his MMA career).
That said, Diego Sanchez is an outstanding submission fighter that probably doesn't get the credit in this regard that he deserves. Along with this, of his 17 victorious MMA encounters, eight have come his way via submission. Further, he's lasted against outstanding submission/ jiu-jitsu practitioners like Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz without a hitch. In fact, he's flourished.
Therefore, though Koscheck has improved his submission skills tremendously since their first encounter, these two still aren't even in the same class when it comes to submissions.
Sanchez clearly continues to have the advantage here.
Koscheck is a world class athlete that is beginning to look like he has the stuff to one day become an excellent striker. That said, he's still probably a little below average in this regard.
Especially considering every one of his opponents is afraid of being too aggressive on their feet and giving him a takedown opportunity. In other words, this may factor in to making him look a little better on his feet than he is.
The interesting part here, however, is that Diego Sanchez's striking skills really were below the MMA average when he premiered on TUF 1 ( which goes to show you just where Koscheck's were ). Along with this, he's improved in leaps and bounds on his feet since the show as well.
Just ask Joe Riggs ( who he KO'd in only 1:45 at UFC Fight Night 7 ).
Therefore, tough Koscheck has closed the gap here some, upright fighting still goes to Sanchez.
So, when you put it all together, Diego Sanchez still seems to hold all of the same advantages over Josh Koscheck that he did in their first encounter. However, an argument can be made that, particularly in the striking department, Koscheck may have closed the gap a bit.
Probably not enough, however. Diego Sanchez should and will be the favorite here.
Still, Josh Koscheck is a great athlete and wrestler that is becoming the kind of mixed martial artist everybody would be smart to steer clear of. Along with this, it appears that Diego Sanchez has added some fuel to Koscheck's fire by posting some comments on MySpace that appear to liken his adversary's fight game to that of a, "human blanket."
"It is a fight, and I would love to be the first person that puts that notch on Diego," said Koscheck, according to a recent MMAFighting.com interview.
Though he shouldn't be favored for all the reasons noted above, the possibility for a Koscheck win isn't all that unfathomable.
Looking forward to this one. Guess is, these guys will be mentioned at the top of the UFC welterweight picture for a long time to come.
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