Diego "The Dream" Sanchez is the middleweight winner of the very first season of The Ultimate Fighter and he has fought at middleweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight in the UFC, currently fighting at lightweight. He is famous for his aggressive style and his habit of fanatically chanting 'YES!' repeatedly on the way down to the Octagon.
Second Run At Welterweight[edit | edit source]
Sanchez lost his most recent fight via dominant decision to undefeated wrestling prospect John Hathaway as he made his attempt to return successfully to the welterweight division.
Sanchez next faced highly-touted contender Paulo Thiago. It was an amazing back-and-forth fight that Diego won via unanimous decision. Diego stated before the fight that his intentions were to move back down to lightweight after the fight with Thiago, win lose or draw. At the post-fight press conference, he stated instead that maybe he would move between both weight classes.
Sanchez next faced fellow welterweight contender Martin Kampmann in the main event of the third UFC On Versus event. Before the fight, Sanchez changed his nickname from 'The Nightmare' to 'The Dream'. Sanchez defeated Kampmann via controversial unanimous decision after a great fight.
Sanchez was next set to face former welterweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Mere weeks before the fight, Sanchez was injured and forced to pull out. He was replaced by rival Josh Koscheck.
After recovering, Sanchez next signed on to face hard-hitting wrestler Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger defeated Sanchez via a close unanimous decision after a fantastic fight. Sanchez suffered an injury during or after the fight and due to training complications from that injury, Sanchez considered dropping back down to the UFC lightweight division. He mused about former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis as his return opponent.
Second Run At Lightweight And Bad Decisions[edit | edit source]
After a year's layoff, Sanchez finally signed to return to lightweight to face former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi in Gomi's native Japan. Sanchez came in a few pounds overweight for the bout, forfeiting a percentage of his purse to Gomi as a result.
Nevertheless the fight itself turned out to be a thriller as expected, with Gomi showing up in vintage form and Diego meeting him every step of the way. At the end of the night, Sanchez had done enough to earn a controversial split decision. UFC president Dana White tweeted afterwards, "How the fuck did Diego win that fight?" But regardless the win was good.
A month later Diego remained on the shelf until at the end of April 2013 Sanchez was announced to be fighting on UFC 164 in August 2013. Possible opponents were mentioned by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva as Strikeforce veterans Pat Healy, Josh Thomson and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Other possible opponents were UFC veterans Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon or Jamie Varner. Sanchez was also quoted around this time as saying Ben Henderson's UFC lightweight title was "there for the taking," planning on making one last run at a UFC title.
Sanchez next signed to fight Melendez at UFC 166 in October 2013. The two went to war for fifteen minutes, exchanging back and forth like the two warriors they were.
After a bloody contest Melendez was awarded the unanimous decision but it could well be said that both men won that night. Commentator Joe Rogan called it "the greatest fight of all time" and this amateur analyst would have to agree with Rogan.
Sanchez asked for a five-round rematch -- "World War 2" -- against Melendez before also asking again to fight five rounds against Nate Diaz who already had a fight slated. Sanchez himself was also called out by undefeated featherweight contender Conor McGregor.
McGregor was quoted as saying in December 2013 that "Diego Sanchez belongs in Bellator with the rest of the has-beens."
Sanchez next signed to fight undefeated prospect Myles Jury. Jury picked Sanchez apart and bloodied him en route to a dominant upset unanimous decision. A discouraged Sanchez blamed the loss on food poisoning.
Sanchez wasted little time in next signing to fight fellow TUF winner Ross Pearson in Sanchez's hometown of Albuquerque. The day before the fight with Pearson, Sanchez called out 'crybaby' Nate Diaz yet again this time for a fight in Mexico.
Pearson appeared to dominate Sanchez in an admittedly exciting standup war. The judges inexplicably awarded Sanchez a mind-boggling split decision victory.
Sanchez next signed to fight fellow TUF winner Norman Parke in the UFC's first event in Mexico. Parke was unfortunately injured and replaced by another TUF veteran Joe Lauzon. The matchup had the potential to be one of the best fights of 2014. Unfortunately both men were injured and the fight was scrapped.
Drop to Featherweight[edit | edit source]
After recovering from his injury Sanchez decided to drop down to featherweight, drawing contender Ricardo Lamas for his debut. Lamas beat up a game Sanchez en route to a clearcut unanimous decision.
Return to Lightweight[edit | edit source]
Sanchez decided not to remain at featherweight after the clear loss to Lamas, moving back up to lightweight to fight fellow veteran Jim Miller. Sanchez defeated Miller via unanimous decision.
Sanchez next signed once again to fight veteran Joe Lauzon at the landmark UFC 200 event in what was sure to be an epic slugfest. Lauzon ended up handing Sanchez his first TKO loss due to strikes in a blistering first round destruction.
Sanchez took only about a month off before signing to make his return in Mexico City against UFC newcomer and Bellator veteran Marcin Held.
Fights[edit | edit source]
- Diego Sanchez vs. Shannon Ritch
- Diego Sanchez vs. Mike Guymon - The fight was for King of the Cage.
- Diego Sanchez vs. Rene Kronvold
- Diego Sanchez vs. John Cronk - The fight was for King of the Cage and Sanchez of course came in undefeated.
- Diego Sanchez vs. Ray Elbe
- Diego Sanchez vs. Kenny Florian - The fight was the UFC debut of both men and it was to decide the middleweight winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
- Nick Diaz vs. Diego Sanchez - The fight was thought -- especially at the time -- to be one of the most exciting ground fights in UFC and MMA history. The fight was also thought to be an intense grudge match, with both fighters hating each other. The hate was mainly instigated by Nick Diaz. Sanchez came out the victor in a razor-close decision.
- Josh Koscheck vs. Diego Sanchez - The fight was Sanchez's first loss. He blamed the loss on a staph infection.
- Jon Fitch vs. Diego Sanchez - With the win, Jon Fitch earned a shot at georges St. Pierre. He instead had to defeat Chris Wilson first.
- Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden - The fight was David Bielkheden's UFC debut.
- Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fioravanti - The fight was a war for three rounds until Sanchez rocked Fioravanti with a high kick and a knee and finished him with strikes on the ground afterwards.
- Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson - The fight was Sanchez's lightweight debut.
- B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez - The fight -- The Nightmare vs. The Prodigy -- was for the UFC lightweight championship with B.J. Penn defending. The fight was Sanchez's last at lightweight, as he returned to welterweight after the humiliating and dominant loss. The fight was only the second fight in UFC history to feature a finish -- TKO due to a cut -- in the fifth round. The fight was the first time that Sanchez had been knocked down in his entire career. Sanchez did the 'YES' chant coming out.
- Diego Sanchez vs. John Hathaway - John Hathaway came into the fight undefeated and a big underdog. The fight was Sanchez's return to the welterweight division after his relatively unsuccessful foray into the lightweight division. The fight was Sanchez's second loss in a row and his fourth loss overall, back-to-back with his loss to B.J. Penn.
- Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago - The fight was considered a personal Fight of the Year candidate.
- Martin Kampmann vs. Diego Sanchez - The fight's unanimous decision result was considered controversial, but it didn't take away from the fact that it was a great fight.
- Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez
- Ricardo Lamas vs. Diego Sanchez
- Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller
- Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez
- Jake Matthews vs. Diego Sanchez