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Diego Sanchez welcomed former Bellator MMA lightweight contender Marcin Held to the Octagon on Saturday in the UFC Mexico City co-main event by handing him a loss in his promotional debut.sanchez-helm-ufcmexicocity-w-750

Held had success early by pressuring Sanchez and landing strikes.  He looked comfortable on his feet, even partially landing a cartwheel kick at one point in the opening round. 

Held’s striking forced Sanchez to look to get the fight to the ground.  When he did, Held locked on a standing guillotine choke.  Sanchez climbed the cage and tossed Held to the side in order to escape the submission attempt. 

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In the second frame, Held’s game plan changed to wanting to grapple with Sanchez.  It would ultimately be a bad decision.  Held rolled for a leg lock and Sanchez gained top position and kept it for the duration of the round. 

In the final frame, Held looked exhausted.  He shot in for a takedown and ended up on the bottom again.  He rolled for several submission attempts, but Sanchez defended each one.  With seconds left in the round, Sanchez postured up and delivered a flurry of strikes.  At the end of fifteen minutes, the judges scored Sanchez the winner by unanimous decision. 

“It feels good.  I’m my worst critic, so I always want to give a better performance than I did,” said Sanchez following the win. 

Sanchez, who has fought as a middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight, said that the 155-pound division was his home.  “The Nightmare” plans to make another run at the lightweight title.

“I was very confident,” he said.  “We’re going to make a run for it (the title).” 

The fight was Sanchez’ 25th Octagon appearance.  He doesn’t care who he faces next, but plans to keep on winning. 

“Whoever the matchmaker tells me to fight is who I’m going to fight,” he said.

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