This UFC Fight Night 167 welterweight contest between Diego Sanchez and Michel Pereira is a bizarre gift from the matchmakers.
Stylistically, this fight is a mess. You have an undersized wrestler/brawler with a high level top game in Sanchez facing off against a hulking Brazilian capoeira fighter in Pereira.
Not to mention, both men are at different stages in their careers. Sanchez is 38-years-of-age and presumably near retirement, whereas Pereira is in his mid twenties and just getting going.
I shall attempt to analyze this bout from a betting perspective.
If you’re a long-time fan of the sport, you’re a fan of Diego Sanchez. Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, you can expect the crowd to give Sanchez a rawkus welcome as he makes his way to the cage.
“The Nightmare” has never been the most polished striker, and that’s unlikely to change at this stage in his career. His reputation for blocking punches with his face is legendary, but he can’t afford to eat many bombs from this particular opponent.
Unless he’s living a life of delusional fantasies at his new gym, The School of Self Awareness, Sanchez will know that he’s vulnerable when striking in open space. Instead, his path to victory is to wear out his larger opponent in the first round, take him down and start pulverizing him – similar to what he did to Mickey Gall.
Even though he has a reputation as a mindless brawler, Sanchez is a high level jiu-jitsu black belt that can utterly dominate opponents from top position.
Sanchez may be the smaller man, but he also has a negligible weight cut. The veteren is renowned for his brilliant cardio, and this could be a key strength against an opponent who has to kill himself in the sauna to make the welterweight limit.
Thinking back for years and years, I can’t remember anyone with a more flamboyant fighting style than Michel Pereira in the UFC. From ‘rolling thunder’ kicks to superman punches off the cage, the Brazilian has an endless repertoire of flashy techniques.
Such moves are regarded as low percentage, because they work a low percentage of the time. It’s amazing whenever you pull off a flying knee knockout, but the over-utilization of big explosive movements will rapidly deplete your gas tank.
In his last fight against Tristan Connelly, Pereira was able to perform like a wild gymnast for the first round – but became extremely labored afterwards.
Interestingly, the Brazilian seemed to have good takedown defense while he was fresh, but his grappling ability looked much more sloppy as he began to tire. This could be a key issue when facing a tenacious veteran like Sanchez that keeps coming and coming.
This seems like a crazy fight to wager money on, and if you’re doing so then I salute you
Once known for his titanium chin, Sanchez has suffered numerous knockout losses in recent years. He certainly doesn’t want to eat a power right hand from Pereira, because this would end his night quickly.
Looking at the possible ways this fight could play out, I do believe a first round knockout for Pereira is the most likely outcome. The Brazilian should be difficult to take down in the early stages and will have ample opportunity to land the kill shot on his much smaller opponent.
If I knew that Pereira would tone down the low percentage techniques and fight in a more conservative manner, I think this would be an easy night at the office for him. I’m just not sure if he has the type of personality to do that!
If Pereira fights in a way that is unsustainable, Sanchez can absolutely work his way into this contest. Few fighters are as gritty and determined as Sanchez, and if Tristan Connelly was able control Pereira for large stretches, Sanchez certainly can too.
If you can only wager pre-match, I would side with Pereira. If you’re able to live bet this fight, it might be best to wait until the end of round one with a potential view to bet Sanchez.
Pick: Michel Pereira -165
Check out my main plays for UFC Fight Night 167.