Please do not refer to UFC welterweight contender Diego Sanchez as “The Nightmare” any longer.
According to the Ultimate Fighter Season One winner, there is no more need for the “Nightmare”-moniker or any other nickname for that matter.
“I let that go. I let the ‘Nightmare’ go. To me, I see some negative in it. A nightmare is something that is negative and kind of evil. I don’t want to represent that. I want to represent positivity and good,” Sanchez said during a Tuesday teleconference (via MMA Fighting).
“I look back on my career. The ‘Nightmare’? The nightmare was myself. All the times I fell off track and got into drinking, got into smoking weed, the things that brought me down, the partying. That was my nightmare. I was my own nightmare. I’m grown up. I’m going to let that name go. I just want to be Diego Sanchez. I don’t even need a nickname. I’m me.”
After a rise to the top of the UFC lightweight division, the 29-year old Sanchez quickly found himself right back at square one after he ran into “The Prodigy” B.J. Penn.
Despite running roughshod over fellow lightweight Clay Guida prior to his title opportunity against Penn, Sanchez looked entirely unprepared for what lay ahead of him in the form of one of the finest lightweight champions ever.
Sanchez essentially got beat up for four and a half rounds by the champion. The bout was finally called off in the fifth round due to a deep cut that Sanchez suffered on his forehead due to a head kick from Penn.
Sanchez showed great heart but he was simply outclassed.
After an unsuccessful return to welterweight against John Hathaway at UFC 114 last May, the future was rather unclear Sanchez.
He looked like a new fighter, however, in his second straight bout at 170 lbs against Paulo Thiago at UFC 121 last October. The newly energized Sanchez even debuted his own version of the Matt Hughes “powerslam”, dropping Thiago straight on his back while letting out his best war-cry.
And now, Sanchez is deeply ingrained in the camp of Greg Jackson, working hard on adding muscle in order to be physically strong enough for the welterweight division.
“In my last fight I was really prepared, I worked hard, but I wasn’t physically strong. That’s something that you have to have at welterweight. Be physically strong. It’s something I really worked at it in this training camp. I think the fans will be real surprised when they see the way I look, the way I feel, andhow I impose my will with my physical strength.”
Sanchez stated that he is between 187-190 lbs leading into his main event bout against Martin Kampmann at UFC on Versus 3 on March 3.
Kampmann was on a tear himself with two strong wins in 2010 over Jacob Volkman and Paulo Thiago. Kampmann’s win streak was derailed as he struggled to stay on his feet against Jake Shields at UFC 121, however.
Both men are looking to rise to the top and eventually challenge for the welterweight title. Sanchez states that his future will not include a return to the lightweight division.
“The options are closed for me to ever go down to 155 again.”
UFC on Versus 3 takes place March 3 from the KFC Yum! Center from Louisville, Kentucky and airs live on Versus.
Other bouts featured include CB Dollaway vs. Mark Munoz, Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page, and Alessio Sakara vs. Chris Weidman.