On paper, the UFC Fight Night 167 co-main event between Michel Pereira and Diego Sanchez set up for weirdness. After nearly three rounds of mostly one-way traffic in favor of Pereira, that weirdness struck when Sanchez was seemingly fighting to not suffer a TKO loss. As Pereira drove knees into the body and head of Sanchez, the winner of season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter” dropped to one knee before Pereira threw one knee too many, landing a blow while Sanchez was technically a downed opponent, resulting in a disqualification.
Pereira danced his way to the Octagon before the fight, something many thought cost him when he ran out of gas in a disappointing loss to Tristan Connelly last September. Pereira is who he is, though, which is a man who fights like a stitched together highlight reel of MMA’s flashiest strikes. That didn’t change in the fight with Sanchez at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, though Pereira did fight a more contained style that allowed him to carry enough energy through two dominant rounds and into what was shaping up to be his best round yet in Round 3.
Sanchez, by contrast, preened like a rooster before the fight, strutting to and around the Octagon with his hands on his hips. The always-eccentric New Mexico native didn’t have an answer after the bell rang for Round 1. He charged forward at times but couldn’t land a takedown or really connect with any strikes as Pereira unloaded with a wild variety of shots.
Can’t get enough UFC? Subscribe to my podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where I break down everything you need to know in the Octagon.
Then, the illegal knee in what looked to be a fight-ending sequence from Pereira opened the back door for Sanchez to claim victory. After the knee landed, Sanchez was inspected by the doctor, sporting two cuts on his forehead, with the physician telling referee Jason Herzog that he felt Sanchez was fine to continue. Sanchez did not agree, saying he could not see from his left eye after the illegal strike. Veteran savvy may have played a part in Sanchez’s statements. Knowing he was on his way to a loss on the scorecards, refusing to continue meant he would instead have his hand raised in victory via disqualification.
Sanchez, whose career in UFC began in April 2005, is now 3-1 since 2018, with the victory over Pereira aiding him in rebounding from a loss to Michael Chiesa last July.