Norman Parke set to face Diego Sanchez at UFC 180

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Following his UFC-best performance in stopping Naoyuki Kotani at UFC Dublin on July 19th, Norman Parke has been given a big step up in competition. The Ulsterman faces veteran Diego Sanchez at UFC 180 in the promotion’s first ever event in Mexico. The UFC confirmed the bout earlier today at the UFC 180 on-sale press conference.

Sanchez (25-7) was the first ever TUF champion after coming through a litany of stars before beating Kenny Florian to earn himself the glass plaque.

The Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter has career wins over the likes of Takenori Gomi, Clay Guida and Nick Diaz but lost his sole title fight in 2009 against BJ Penn. Sanchez has hit a rough patch recently having lost to Myles Jury and Gilbert Melendez before taking a controversial decision victory over Parke’s teammate Ross Pearson last time out.

It was that decision which spurred Parke to call out the Mexican-American and today he has been granted his wish.

Parke (20-2-1) is also a TUF champion having won TUF: Smashes in 2012. Since then Parke has won four of his five fights with the controversial draw against Leonardo Santos the only blemish on his still unbeaten Octagon record. Parke has impressive decision wins over Colin Fletcher, John Tuck and Kazuki Tokudomi but the aforementioned destruction of Kotani in July pushed his career forward greatly.

UFC 180 is set to be headlined by the heavyweight title bout between champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Fabricio Werdum on November 15th in Mexico City, Mexico. With Parke’s judo style, Sanchez’ wrestling and both men’s appreciation of letting go on the feet this one should add to what promises to be a stacked card.

Lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Co-host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Tuesday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma