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UFC Rio Rancho live blog: Diego Sanchez vs. Michel Pereira

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This is the UFC Rio Rancho live blog for Diego Sanchez vs. Michel Pereira, the welterweight co-main event for Saturday’s fight card at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M.

The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Diego Sanchez hopes to bounce back into the win column after a decision setback against Michael Chiesa in his previous outing, while the high-flying Pereira aims to put a big name on his resume following a disappointing second Octagon outing.

Check out the UFC Rio Rancho live blog below.

Round 1: Sanchez starts the bout with a rolling thunder kick, Pereira intercepts and stuffs him against the cage. Herzog warns for something, and the two break off. Pereira jamming in and whacks Sanchez with a front kick. Outstretched fingers from Sanchez, who’s moving laterally before charging in with a flurry that’s short. Pereira eats a low kick as he advances, but lands a nice front kick. A “Showtime” attempt from Pereira, who follows with a right cross. Flying knee from Pereira, and Sanchez tries to grab and ankle for a takedown. No dice, and Pereira is back to hunting. Sanchez circling and trying to avoid the explosive power. Body shots from Pereira, who waves on the crowd as they chant Sanchez’s name. Another telegraphed flurry from Sanchez, and Pereira pushes him back. Spinning backfist from Sanchez leads to brief clinch, and Pereira pushes off. Another shot from Sanchez, and Pereira sees it coming. Wheel kick from Pereira misses. Sanchez attacks the lead leg. Outstretched fingers from Sanchez, and Pereira tags him with kicks and knees to the body. There’s a very noticable speed and power difference. Another rolling thunder from Sanchez, and he literally runs at Pereira to no avail. Superman into knee for Pereira, and we run out of time.

MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Pereira.

Round 2: Pereira back on the hunt, and Sanchez tries again for the takedown initiation. Pereira gets out of the way of spinning backfist. Sanchez charges with a flurry of body punches and then attacks the legs. Pereira cuts it off and meets Sanchez with a fast punch combo. Strikes getting closer to Sanchez’s chin from Pereira. Sanchez attacks the leg again as Pereira comes in. He runs right into a flying knee and circles off. A capoiera kick from Pereira, and Sanchez runs into him. Another charge from Sanchez is short. Pereira tags Sanchez with a punch, and Sanchez looks hurt. He grabs for a leg against the fence and gets turned. Pereira with a lunging knee and side kick to the knee. Sanchez returns to the body. Dancing from Pereira, who lands a right cross to Sanchez. Exchange of punches nets some results for Sanchez, who starts moving forward for the first time. Now, Pereira is dancing away. Big superman punch and kick stings Sanchez, and he’s back to his original game plan. Big punch and flying knee from Pereira, and Sanchez ties him up. He can’t hold on, and Pereira is back to hunting. Sanchez attacks the body with kicks, and Pereira closes and elevates and slams him to the mat.

MMA Fighting scores the round 10-8 for Pereira, and he’s up 20-17.

Round 3: Sanchez comes out more aggressive, chasing Pereira around. Pereira comes back with another stiff front kick, and he’s pushing Sanchez back. Sanchez spins, and Pereira gets him down. Flip into a kick from Pereira, who tumbles back to his feet, then bowls over Sanchez and looses a few punches before getting up. Sanchez advances and eats canvas as Pereira dodges him. Lead elbow from Sanchez, and he backs off. Another flying knee from Pereira. Sanchez charging again and extending his lead hand. Pereira simply circles off and digs a body shot. A knee to the head as Sanchez retreats, and Pereira has the clinch. He lands a couple of knees to the body and head, and then he throws a blatantly illegal one. Herzog stops the action. Sanchez’s forehead is bleeding badly. Sanchez calls for his coach and is turned down. He says he can’t see and notes it’s an illegal knee, and the fight is waved off.

Official result: Diego Sanchez def. Michel Pereira via disqualification (illegal knee) - Round 3, 3:09