It’s been well over ten years now since Diego Sanchez joined the UFC, but could tonight mark the last time we see the rugged veteran walk to the Octagon? Based off what the TUF Season 1 winner’s saying, it doesn’t sound like it.
Sanchez made his into the UFC all the way back in 2005, by defeating Kenny Florian in the TUF Season 1 Finale. To put into perspective how much the sport has changed, Sanchez and Florian fought at 185…Well, fast forward to today, and the 36 year-old Sanchez is going to face Craig White tonight at UFC 228. It will mark the 28th time Sanchez has fought in an official, UFC bout.
If you’re an old school fan, then you know Sanchez was a contender at both welterweight and then lightweight, but in recent years, “The Nightmare” has struggled. In fact, since Sanchez has been stopped in three of his last four bouts, and because of all the epic wars he’s been involved in, there’s been calls for the entertaining fighter to retire.
So, could we see Sanchez hang em’ up? If he loses to White tonight? Well, recently Sanchez had this to say about retirement, while talking to MMA Junkie:
“I don’t care what the keyboard warriors of the world have to say,” Sanchez said. “‘Oh, he’s punch drunk and he’s brain dead and please retire.’ They say, ‘Please retire, Diego. Please retire.’ Because they want me to be average like them. They want me to fall into that textbook of normal, normalcy. That’s not me. I am the anomaly to that textbook. I am the way, way way, outside the box weird guy that’s freakin’ like an alien. ‘This guy’s an alien, he’s like The Iceman Wim Hof. At 52 years old running marathons in the desert without a drip of water. Breaking Guinness World Records.’ That’s the type of mindset that I’m on. I’m tapping into my primitive brain. I’m on some next-level mind, body, spirit.”
“I’m just still getting better. I’m getting better and better and better and better. The crazy thing is I’m so healthy right now. My mind is healthy, my body is healthy. I’m healthy all the way around, and I feel great. For this fighting stuff I’m just going to do what God put me here to do. I’m a warrior, I’m a fighter. No one knows how long they’ve live. No one knows what’s going to happen in their life, if they’re going to get cancer, if they’re going to get hit by a truck, or a train like Matt Hughes. No one knows when is the next day, but for me, I’m going to continue to do what I love and I’m living for this…”
So, there you go. Now, if Sanchez incurs another, devastating loss tonight, maybe he’ll change his mind. But, it really doesn’t sound like the Jackson – Wink fighter is thinking about walking away from the game. And, even if the UFC were to cut him, following another defeat, it’s hard to imagine organizations like Bellator passing on Sanchez.
UFC 228 will take place in Dallas, Texas.