Top UFC welterweight Diego Sanchez has opted to leave Jackson’s Submission Fighting. The news surfaced earlier this week in an Albuquerque newspaper that Sanchez left the team to return to California. The news comes on the heels of earlier reports that he and UFC ring girl Ali Sonoma may be engaged.
Sanchez made his MMA debut is 2002 winning 11 straights fights before being chosen for the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. The “Nightmare” made his UFC debut on the finale of the season facing Kenny Florian in the finals of the middleweight tournament. Sanchez defeated Florian to earn a UFC contract and promptly dropped to the welterweight division. After racking up UFC wins over Brian Gassaway, Nick Diaz, John Alessio, Karo Parisyan, and Joe Riggs Sanchez was matched up against Josh Koscheck. The match pitted two of the UFC’s top young welterweights head-to-head but the fight fizzled with Koscheck handing Sanchez his first MMA loss by unanimous decision. After the fight it was revealed that Sanchez had a staph infection and the fight was nearly called off.
Now healed from the infection, Sanchez will face another top welterweight fighter, Jon Fitch, at UFC 76 in September. Though the bout is not directly for a title shot the winner could receive a chance at the welterweight championship in 2008.