Diego Sanchez’s 16-year UFC career, essentially equal parts brilliant, flawed, celebrated and bizarre, has come to an end.
According to multiple online reports, the 39-year-old Albuquerque MMA fighter has been released by the UFC.
The long and mutually beneficial relationship between fighter and promoter became broken, according to reports, because of a communication breakdown regarding Sanchez’s health as his scheduled May 8 fight against former Jackson-Wink MMA teammate Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone approached. But, big picture, it was the UFC’s disapproval of Sanchez’s trainer that led to the popular fighter’s release.
In June 2019, Sanchez left Jackson-Wink — his training home for most of his 19-year MMA career — and began working with Josh Fabia, a fitness trainer with virtually no background in MMA.
Before aligning himself with Fabia, Sanchez had won his two previous fights. Since, he’s 1-2 — the victory coming by disqualification in a fight he was badly losing before being struck with an illegal knee.
In confirming Sanchez’s release, UFC President Dana White had kind words for Sanchez but none of the kind for Fabia.
“Somehow, this creep got into Diego’s life and has been controlling him,” White told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole. “… This guy is (expletive) nuts. He worked his way into Diego’s life and has gotten control over him.
“I just want the best for Diego.”
Sanchez, a New Mexico state wrestling champion at Del Norte, has been fighting MMA professionally since 2002. In 2005, he earned a UFC contract after emerging as the champion in the organization’s initial The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
He is 30-13 overall, but just 13-13 in his last 26 fights after winning his first 17. He is 19-13 in UFC competition but has lost five of his last eight.
Sanchez has fought in the UFC in multiple weight classes: 155 pounds (lightweight), 170 (welterweight) and 185 (middleweight). He has earned several performance bonuses during his career.
He long has been a fan favorite, not just for his wildly aggressive style in the cage but for his wildly entertaining, and often head-scratching, interviews.
In 2009, Sanchez challenged B.J. Penn for the UFC lightweight title but lost by fifth-round TKO.
BACK IN THE MIX: Jackson-Wink bantamweight Patrick “Patchy” Mix (13-1) is scheduled to face Albert Morales (10-6-1) on a May 7 Bellator card in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Mix is coming off the first loss of his career, having dropped a unanimous decision to Juan Archuleta (25-2) in a Bellator title bout on Sept. 12.
GUERO WEIGHS IN: In Carson, California, Albuquerque welterweight boxer Jose Luis “Guero” Sanchez (11-1, four knockouts) weighed in on Friday at 146.2 pounds for his eight-round bout on Saturday against Chicago’s Adrian Granados (21-8, 15 KOs). Granados weighed in at 146.6 pounds.
The bout is on the undercard of a show headlined by former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz’s bout against longtime contender Chris Arreola. The main card will be aired on Fox Sports pay-per-view, but the undercard, featuring Sanchez-Granados, will be available for free on the Fox Sports app and FOXsports.com. Action is scheduled to begin at 2:40 p.m.