“The Iceman” Chuck Liddell and “The Nightmare” or “Lionheart” or “The Dream” or even “El Corazon de Leon”, it doesn’t matter what you call him, Diego Sanchez will always share similarities with Chuck Liddell. Sure the two men have crossed paths before, Liddell was Sanchez’ coach back on the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. But the two men are linked by much more than a TV Show, a TV Show that ultimately saved the UFC. It’s the warrior spirit, the bloodbaths, the wars, the never back down mentality the two brought into the cage. Unfortunately, it also looks like they’re set to share a similar end to their respective careers.
Chuck Liddell retired back in June of 2010 after suffering his third straight knockout loss, this time, to Rich Franklin. It was a quick and brutal fall from grace after Liddell lost his title. The biker goateed, mohawked, native of Santa Barbara, California, suffered his first true knockout loss at the hands of “Pride” legend Quentin “Rampage” Jackson, at UFC 71, in 2007. The world could only sit in silence as they witnessed their seemingly unbeatable champion get dropped by a right-hook after leaving his chin too long in the air following a failed left-hook attempt. Jackson’s perfectly timed counter dropped Liddell right on his back as the challenger followed up with some punches that left the champion stiff for a few seconds, the referee was forced to step in and sparked the beginning of the end of a legendary career.
Diego Sanchez’ career had been a bit of a roller-coaster following his loss to BJ Penn in 2009. Alternating wins and losses but putting on exciting contests either way. His “Rampage” Jackson ended up being Joe Lauzon. Sanchez took on Lauzon at UFC 200 in 2016, the fight had been booked as a war between two lightweight gatekeepers, a fun fight to kick-off the UFC’s failed attempt at a legendary event. It wasn’t to be that night. Lauzon caught Sanchez’ with a flurry of punches against the fence, Sanchez tensed up, and prepared for a gritty back and forth brawl, just like he’d done against everyone in the past. Unfortunately, Sanchez’ body didn’t respond that night, he found himself unable to muster a flurry of punches back, eventually, a left hook robbed him of his legs, and an uppercut robbed him of his movement, the flurry continued, Sanchez lost his mouthpiece as he attempted to get away from his aggressor, another flurry of punches hit him before the referee decided he had seen enough. Sanchez had never been finished like this, “At least I wasn’t knocked unconscience [sic]”, Diego expressed on Instagram later that night.
Chuck Liddell’s rough patch continued as he lost to Keith Jardine by split decision, Liddell won the first round before Jardine’s legs kicks and awkward, southpaw style, eventually sealed the win. Liddell’s final victory came against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79, looking to rebound from the Jardine loss, Liddell would win go on to win an entertaining decision. Liddell and Silva engaged in an entertaining brawl that would go on to win the 2007 fight of the year. “The Iceman” would make his return to the cage almost ten months later as he challenged up and coming contender, Rashad Evans, in a number one contender fight. Evans responded to the opportunity by hitting Liddell with the hardest punch he had ever thrown, a right-hook landed flush on the chin of “The Iceman”. Liddell’s body came crashing to the canvas as he entered the “Shadow Realm” and ultimately, his career came crashing down with him.
Liddell would go on to challenge “Father Time” and “The MMA Gods” two more times before Dana White stepped in and told him it was enough. In his next fight, Liddell got caught with a big punch, on the chin, against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a legends fight, another Pride vs UFC fight. After that, the UFC offered him the chance to beat up Tito Ortiz one last time, Ortiz pulled out of the fight and was replaced by Rich Franklin. Franklin would get his arm broken by a kick, in a fight, Liddell was clearly winning. Liddell rushed in against a hurt Franklin in an effort to finish him, Franklin planted a well-timed, well-placed cross right on Liddell’s chin. It was over. Liddell fell to the ground like a bag of wet newspapers, as the commentators announced this was probably the last time we would see him fight. They were right.
Diego Sanchez rebounded quickly from the Lauzon fight. He would make his return four months later to take on Polish leg lock specialist, Marcin Held. Sanchez won the fight in impressive fashion as he used his veteran savvy and often forgotten ground game to put the youngster back in his place. Sanchez then took on “Ragin” Al Iaquinta in his next match-up, a strange fight as the up and coming Iaquinta had taken out veterans Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon in his four-fight win streak. The fight was made purely on the expectation that the two would engage in a brawl to entertain the fans.
The gritty veteran started the fight very patiently, attempting to find openings and not forcing a back and forth war. During the feeling out process, a big left-hook from Iaquinta dropped Sanchez, Sanchez came back to his feet, scrunched his face, and prepared for war. Just like against Lauzon, his body didn’t respond. Iaquinta landed a big right-hook that separated Sanchez from his consciousness as he fell awkwardly to the ground. He was out. There was no denying his career was coming to a finish.
Technical brawler, Matt Brown had announced he would have one last fight before calling it a career. The fan favorite welterweight announced he would be fighting Diego Sanchez, in Diego’s return to welterweight. One last ride, one last heist, one last… war. If there was anyone who would gladly oblige and engage Brown in a fire-fight, it was Sanchez. Sanchez had his moments against Brown, he briefly hurt the man with a kick to the liver. That was the closest he would come to winning the fight. Brown eventually caught one of Sanchez’ kicks and forced him against the fence. Brown raised his elbow well above his head like a Matador set to plant the sword that would end Bull’s suffering. Brown swung his elbow as hard as he could, landing right behind Diego’s ear. Sanchez’ body instantly shut down as his body crashed into the canvas. It was over… Both Matt Brown’s career as well as Diego’s.
Just like Chuck Liddell, Sanchez’ warrior spirit wouldn’t allow him to back down. It was going to take more than getting knocked out for Diego to call it a career. In the end, Chuck needing saving from himself. It appears as though Sanchez will need saving as well.
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Why It’s Time to Cherish Michael Bisping and Stop the Hate
Ever since the Ultimate Fighter 3, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping has been one of the most hated fighters on the UFC roster. Since he was painted as the big bad Brit against the American hero Dan Henderson, Bisping has been the villain. He has played up to the reputation of being one of the biggest heels in the UFC, with his arrogance, trash talk and often disrespectful attitude.
But nothing has summed up Michael Bisping more than the events of this past week. After losing his Middleweight Championship to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 217, no one would blame Bisping for wanting a few months on the couch whilst sinking a few beers before retiring at UFC London in March.
After hearing that Anderson Silva had tested positive for a banned substance, it was announced that Bisping would fill in for Silva to face Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai. A fight that nobody else would have wanted. A fight that he has less than three weeks to prepare for.
The fight does nothing for Bisping. Gastelum is a rising, rejuvenated contender and Bisping knows he can not take him lightly. But he’s also seven places below him in the rankings. Although, this doesn’t matter anymore as Bisping has announced this will be his second to last fight ever before hanging up his gloves.
Nothing sums Bisping up better than his comment on Gastelum’s Instagram post “See you in China. Loser buys the beers”.
He sounds relaxed. Perhaps he’s enjoying his last two fights and is at peace with his impending retirement.
In an era all about money, fighters like Bisping are rare and hard to come by. Fighters that only care about one thing, fighting.
Sure, his title reign wasn’t the best. But the UFC offered him the Henderson fight, to bring back some feeling of nostalgia that has been missing in the modern times of the UFC. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to face one of the greatest ever in GSP.
It’s easy to forget amongst all the trash talk that Bisping has always played by the rules, and been anti PEDs during a time when a majority of the roster was using some form of performance enhancers. Fighting PED users has given Bisping most of his losses and has even led to him losing sight in one of his eyes.
Most of Bisping’s outrageous acts, have been him using a ‘pro wrestling’ act in order to hype up his fights and put bums in seats. That isn’t an excuse for some of his obnoxious behaviour. But when he’s not in the zone, it’s clear to see what a respectful and humble man he is. Like his moment after UFC 217, where he approached Cody Garbrandt to tell him how proud he was of him, or his post fight respect for Anderson Silva, where they both bowed on their knees to one another.
The truth is, Bisping is an incredible ambassador of the sport and one of the pioneers across the pond.
Bisping should be remembered and appreciated as the workhorse warrior who brought absolutely everything he had to the cage every time he fought. He always comes to fight, whether it’s three weeks notice or more. He’s simply tough as hell.
Believe you me Michael Bisping is a true old school legend of this sport and should be cherished whilst we still have him, cause we will miss him when he’s gone.
Could Cynthia Calvillo set herself up for a shot at the title in 2018 with a win later this year?
The end of 2017 is fast approaching and we’ve experienced some upsets in some of the recent cards. Not only did we witness three title changes at UFC 217 but we are also missing out on Frankie Edgar’s title shot at UFC 218 and Dominick Cruz being out of UFC 219. This bodes the question, who can finish the year with a triumphant win?
Maybe we’ll leave it to the ladies. Highly touted strawweight prospect Cynthia Calvillo is making waves throughout her division. Calvillo made her pro debut with “Global Knockout” August 27th, 2016 against Jessica Sanchez and got the win with a TKO in round two. She had two more fights in 2016, both of them she came out on top with an undefeated record of 3-0.
Calvillo made her UFC debut March 4th, 2017 just a month after signing her contract to UFC. She won her bout against Amanda “ABC” Cooper in round one with a rear naked choke showing everyone why she deserved to be in the octagon. Calvillo’s pro record now stood at 4-0. Her second UFC bout had her jump straight onto the main card fighting Pearl Gonzalez in which Calvillo dominated the fight and ended Gonzalez with another rear naked choke in round three. Displaying her strong submission game once again.
Not even halfway through 2017 and this prospect has certainly made herself known within the division. Originally from San Jose and fighting out of Sacramento, CA with the renowned Team Alpha Male, it’s no surprise she’s stacking the wins up already. She’s training under some of the best instructors in the business including Urijah Faber and Justin Buchholz, as well as training amongst some of the elite UFC fighters of the moment such as Cody Garbrandt, Darren Elkins, and Teruto Ishihara to name a few. Team Alpha Male is predominantly a male fight team and Calvillo says this has helped her on her way to success, fighting with the guys at Team Alpha Male has made her one tough cookie that’s not to be messed with.
In July 2017 Calvillo fought one of Scotland’s finest, Joanne Calderwood in Calderwood’s home city, Glasgow. Calvillo did not get the finish she wanted, however, did get the decision which put her record at 6-0. Not only did she snap up another win she now ranks at number 7 in her division and this is all within five months which is unheard of. This lady has clearly made herself right at home in the octagon.
While everyone was focusing on the title belt between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Cynthia has been creeping up those ranking and knocking fighters off their pedestals on her way. December 30th sees her fourth fight of the year against Carla Esparza who is currently ranked at number 8 in the division. If Calvillo defeats Esparza and gains another win she will hold a record of 7-0 and the only woman in the top ten of the Strawweight division to stay undefeated.
A win to top off her so far successful 2017 campaign could mean 2018 will be an even bigger year for this fearless fighter. Will anyone be able to stop he in tracks or could we see Calvillo go to the top in 2018?
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