It’s official, Anderson Silva will not be ready to compete in February at UFC 95 so the UFC has decided to see what it has with Diego Sanchez moving down to lightweight.
According to sources close to situation, Sanchez will face Joe Stevenson in his highly anticipated lightweight debut when the UFC returns to London on Feb. 21.
It is unclear whether the fight will serve as the cards headliner as other potential big name fights are in the works, but it certainly packs enough star power to warrant the main event label.
Sanchez surprised the MMA world with an unexpected decision to drop to lightweight. He made the announcement a couple weeks ago via his personal myspace page:
“I’m training hard and will be dropping down to fight at 155,” Sanchez stated. “I will keep you all posted on the info of the fight! But I promise you all that I will do my best to win.”
It is now known that that fight will be against another high energy fighter that made the switch from welterwight to lightweight, TUF 2 alum Joe Stevenson.
Stevenson is 5-2 since dropping down to welterweight after winning The Ultimate Fighter 2 welterweight tournament; his losses however, came against the top two conteders in the division – BJ Penn and Kenny Florian.
Sanchez, who the UFC has wanted to move to its lightweight division since consecutive losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, had always resisted the move adamantly stating he was a welterweight. But Sanchez now appears enticed by the growing talent pool in the lightweight division and his prospects of going from a smallish welterweight to a big lightweight.
With a win over Stevenson, Sanchez would automatically be catapulted to contender status within the division and a have a title shot within his reach.
Sanchez would have to wait a bit for his shot however, as the UFC’s lightweight champion, BJ Penn, has two prior engagements – one with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and another with #1 lightweight contender Kenny Florian.