this weekend's tomorrow night's headline fight between Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez at UFC on Versus 3 is an important crossroad for both fighters' careers I think it's safe to say Diego Sanchez may have more on the line. He'll likely still have a job with the UFC by virtue of being one of the first The Ultimate Fighter finalists along with Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, but a loss to the Danish Xtreme Couture fighter may permanently put the ceiling on his championship aspirations.
Sanchez had dropped to Lightweight after having problems with Welter's wrestlers in the form of Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck and after being massacred by B.J. Penn for the 155lbs title Sanchez thought it best to return to 170lbs after feeling the cut was too draining. The trouble is since Sanchez has been away there's been an influx of wrestlers who can give him problems such as Rick Story and Jake Ellenberger, and with Fitch and Koscheck still riding high in the division as well as the addition of Jake Shields to the UFC roster Sanchez has tough times ahead.
Traditionally a kick boxer, Martin Kampmann has developed a respectable submission game and his wrestling can only have got better from being at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas for the last several years. If Sanchez has trouble getting Kampmann to the ground or worse - is taken down relatively easily by Kampmann instead it will likely cement his position as a division gatekeeper even with a close decision win.
If he were to lose maybe another run at Lightweight would be his best bet, and being back at Greg Jackson's he could get proper advise on how to cut weight and eat right rather then resort to a diet of stevia as he has done in the past. Also with Penn back at Welterweight Sanchez's title chances are much better - though the truth is I still see him as little match for the Edgars and Maynards of the division and then there's the issue of Jackson fighters not fighting each other, so a rematch with Clay Guida might be out of the question.
Sanchez is going to have to be spectacular and dominant if he is to win critics over, and more importantly win matchmaker Joe Silva over to put him in contender fights even if he has already won the fans over countless times in the past. One thing you can say about a Diego Sanchez fight is they're very rarely boring.