UFC® today announced that the classic 2009 fight between season one winner of The Ultimate Fighter Diego Sanchez and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Clay Guida will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Fight Wing’ as a part of the class of 2019. The 2019 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Toyo Tires®, will take place on Friday, July 5, at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster. The event will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS® starting at 7 p.m. PT.
“There are certain guys that when you match them up, there’s no doubt in your mind that it’s going to be a good fight, and this was one of those fights,” UFC President Dana White said. “This fight represents everything that fans around the world love about UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. Diego and Clay are two maniacs and as soon as the fight began, they both came out blasting each other, it was crazy! This was an absolute war and both guys gave everything they had for all three rounds. This fight was so good it was named the 2009 Fight of the Year. It is one of the best displays of heart, endurance and will to win that you will ever see. Congratulations to Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida on a fight that will always be remembered as one of the best ever!”
As the main event of The Ultimate Fighter®: United States vs. United Kingdom Finale, which took place on Saturday, June 20, 2009, at the Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, both athletes entered the highly-anticipated matchup on three-fight winning streaks.
Sanchez entered the Octagon® with an impressive 22-2 record that included victories over former WEC® welterweight champions Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan, former WEC® middleweight champion Joe Riggs and 2007 Strikeforce middleweight grand prix champion Jorge Santiago.
“The fight with Guida was really fun,” said Sanchez. “My mentality was that it was time to get street on this wrestler and that’s exactly what I did!”
Guida arrived at the Palms with a 25-6 record and wins over season five winner of The Ultimate Fighter® and current UFC welterweight Nate Diaz, season six winner of The Ultimate Fighter® Mac Danzig and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson.
“When you take a rampaging beast like Diego Sanchez, and a wild Tasmanian devil like me, you get a recipe for Fight of the Year, and that’s what we gave UFC fans that night,” said Guida. “The fans were the true winners and they deserved it more than anyone. Thank you for inducting this prolific battle into the UFC Hall of Fame! On behalf of my team, family, and friends that helped us prepare for that fight, we are truly honored!”
Known for their intense personalities and tenacious fighting styles, both athletes ignited the crowd with their pre-fight antics and met in the center of the Octagon following introductions for an epic staredown that would be an indicator of things to come over the next three rounds.
Sanchez quickly advanced to Guida’s side of the Octagon as the fight began and both athletes stood toe to toe exchanging punches until Diego connected on a right uppercut that almost floored Clay ten seconds into the first round. Sanchez continued his attack with a barrage of flying knees and punches as Guida covered up in an attempt to regain his footing. A third flying knee by Sanchez sent Guida’s mouthpiece out of his mouth and onto the canvas, as he moved to avoid Diego’s punches.
Sanchez continued as the aggressor, bombarding Guida with flying knees, uppercuts and jabs until Clay was able to secure his first takedown, directly into full guard, 69 seconds into the fight. Now with the advantage, Guida began landing a series of elbows while pushing Sanchez into the side of the Octagon as Diego, now bleeding, feverishly scrambled to get up off the canvas. Sanchez was able to shake Guida off as both fighters stood up at the 2:20 mark of the round.
Referee Josh Rosenthal immediately stopped the action to allow Clay to go to his corner and secure his mouthguard before fighting resumed at the center of the Octagon. Both fighters circled the center of the canvas for nine seconds until Sanchez connected on a left head kick that floored Guida, allowing Diego to resume his attack. Sanchez would take Clay down into side control with 37 seconds remaining, maintaining control for the remainder of one of the most explosive rounds in UFC history. At the conclusion of the round, both fighters combined to throw 114 significant strikes and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
The action continued in round two, with Guida taking Sanchez down 30 seconds into the round and controlling the action via ground-and-pound. Known for his jiu-jitsu, Diego attempted various submissions from his back and connected on a series of elbows from guard position. Guida maintained control throughout the round, matching Diego’s opening round success heading into the third.
Having each won one round, both athletes were exhausted entering round three, with Guida starting the action by throwing punches to try and set up a takedown. Both athletes traded punches for the majority of the round, until Guida’s takedown attempt at the 1:50 mark was countered by Sanchez, resulting in Diego taking Clay’s back and trying to submit him via arm triangle. Diego lost his arm triangle bid and Clay ended up on top in full guard with Sanchez maneuvering to attempt a kimura. Guida was able to defend Diego’s submission attempt and the fight ended with a final barrage of punches from both fighters.
Sanchez would win the bout via split decision, earning a title shot against UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn for the lightweight title in the main event of UFC® 107: PENN vs. SANCHEZ. He would lose his title bid against Penn but has continued to fight the best athletes in the world inside the Octagon.
During his career, Sanchez has competed in 29 fights inside the Octagon and is one of only two fighters that have competed in UFC’s middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight divisions, joining Kenny Florian. Diego is currently on a two-fight winning streak and most recently defeated Mickey Gall via TKO at UFC® 235: JONES vs. SMITH, in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 2, 2019.
Guida has also continued to flourish inside the Octagon following this historic fight, winning 10 of his last 18 fights, including three of his last four. Clay recently earned a unanimous decision victory over Penn at UFC® 237: NAMAJUNAS vs. ANDRADE, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, May 11, 2019.
The 8th Annual UFC International Fight Week™ will take place from Wednesday, July 3 – Sunday, July 7 in Las Vegas. For more information, download the official UFC International Fight Week app, that is available on the App Store and Google Play.