Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez
Born Diego Sanchez
(1981-12-31) December 31, 1981
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Other names The Nightmare
The Dream
Residence Albuquerque, New Mexico
Nationality American
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)
Division Lightweight
Reach 72.0 in (183 cm)[1]
Style Boxing , Wrestling , Submissions
Stance Southpaw
Fighting out of Albuquerque, New Mexico
Team Jackson's Submission Fighting
The Arena
Trainer Greg Jackson
Rank      Black belt in Gaidojutsu
     Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu[2]
Years active 2002 – present
Mixed martial arts record
Total 32
Wins 25
By knockout 6
By submission 9
By decision 10
Losses 7
By knockout 1
By decision 6
Notable school(s) Del Norte High School
Website http://www.diegonightmare.com/
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
last updated on: October 19, 2010

Diego Sanchez (born December 31, 1981) is an American professional mixed martial artist with a background in Wrestling and Gaidojutsu, system of submission wrestling developed by his longtime trainer Greg Jackson. Sanchez has competed in the lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight divisions for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He defeated Alex Karalexis, Josh Rafferty, Josh Koscheck and Kenny Florian during the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, en route to becoming The Ultimate Fighter 1 Middleweight Tournament Winner

Sanchez has been involved in more "Fight of the Year" bouts than any other fighter in mixed martial arts; his first against Karo Parisyan at UFC Fight Night 6, then again opposite Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale (which culminated into a title shot against then-UFC Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn, where the two headlined UFC 107), and finally against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 166.


Sanchez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he also trains.

Diego Sanchez wrestled in New Mexico before starting training mixed martial arts while working for UPS. Sanchez eventually joined Jackson's Submission Fighting, still while working for UPS, managing the time between work and training.

MMA career

Early career

Sanchez made his MMA debut in 2002 in the promotion Ring of Fire, despite having injured his heel the night before. Sanchez mostly went for takedowns, while his opponent, who was a more developed striker, bloodied the young Sanchez. However, Sanchez continued to use his wrestling expertise, landed another takedown in the second round, taking his opponent's back, then sinking in a rear-naked choke, causing his opponent to tap. This made Sanchez the winner by submission, who then earned $600 for the bout. He then went on to compile an undefeated 11-0 record before becoming a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter.

The Ultimate Fighter

Sanchez was chosen as a participant on the first season of the reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. Presented as a young, focused middleweight who only had one goal, to become a UFC champion. He won a contract with the UFC after defeating fellow finalist Kenny Florian via TKO, becoming the middleweight winner for the first season of the show. On the show, Sanchez was known for being the "odd-ball" of the group, practicing yoga at odd moments and trying to extract "energy" from a lightning storm, and was also a self-proclaimed "Zen master".

Ultimate Fighting Championship


Sanchez made his post-TUF debut defeating journeyman Brian Gassaway by submission due to strikes at UFC 54.

Sanchez next defeated Nick Diaz via unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale.

Sanchez won a unanimous decision over John Alessio on May 27, 2006 at UFC 60.

Sanchez continued his undefeated streak with a unanimous decision victory over judo specialist Karo Parisyan at UFC Fight Night 6 on August 17, 2006.

Sanchez faced Joe Riggs on December 13, 2006 in the main event of UFC Fight Night 7. Sanchez landed a right hook that knocked Riggs down, followed by a running knee that knocked Riggs out at 1:45 of the first round. Sanchez subsequently tested positive for the agents found in marijuana and was sentenced to a three-month suspension.

Sanchez was then cleared to fight Josh Koscheck at UFC 69. At the weigh-ins for the event, Sanchez shoved Koscheck while they stared each other down. Sanchez ended up losing a unanimous decision to Koscheck, ending his undefeated run, in a fight that was virtually all stand up. Koscheck managed to keep Sanchez at bay with superior hand speed and footwork until the bout timed out, to take the win 30–27 on all three judges' cards. Several weeks after the fight, Dana White announced that Sanchez was sick on the eve of the fight and almost had to retire when a test came back indicating he had Hepatitis C.[3] Doctors eventually concluded the test results were not correct, but could not diagnose his sickness, so the fight went ahead as planned. The day after the fight Sanchez had a hole in his thigh the "size of a coffee cup" and was diagnosed with a staph infection.[4]

Sanchez during the weigh-ins before a fight

In his next bout, Sanchez lost his second straight fight by split decision to Jon Fitch at UFC 76 on September 22, 2007 before rebounding against David Bielkheden at UFC 82 with a submission win in the first round due to strikes. Following the win, Sanchez stopped Luigi Fioravanti via TKO due to strikes at 4:07 of the third round at The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale. After pulling out of a fight with Thiago Alves due to an injury, Sanchez announced he would be moving to the lightweight division.[5]


He made his lightweight debut in his next fight on February 21, 2009 at UFC 95 against Joe Stevenson. Training for the bout Sanchez worked with professional boxers Joey Gilbert and Lupe Aquino, Brazilian grappling experts Xande and Saulo Ribeiro and wrestling coach Bob Anderson.[6] Although Stevenson pressed the action throughout the bout, Sanchez landed the better strikes and won by unanimous decision. Diego credits Tony Robbins for giving him mental preparation for this latest fight, and was seen entering the bout chanting "YES" repeatedly.

At the UFC 100 Fan Expo event in Las Vegas, 2009

On June 20, 2009, Sanchez won a split-decision victory against Clay Guida at the finale of The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom Finale. Sanchez won Fight of the Night honors, his second such award in a row. Opening up with a seemingly endless barrage of jabs and right uppercuts for the first minute he shook Guida, in the first round Sanchez also connected with a head kick that floored his opponent. Sanchez maintained a superior standup through the first round and the rest of the fight, though Guida rallied and made a contest of the next two rounds in a closely contested match. The fight went on to win "Fight of the Year" by several MMA magazines and the UFC.

At UFC 107 on December 12, 2009, Sanchez fought and lost to BJ Penn for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Early in the first round, Penn landed a right hand that dropped Sanchez, followed by flurry of punches that almost prompted referee Herb Dean to stop the fight. Although Sanchez was able to recover enough to stay in the bout, he was outclassed in the following 3 rounds that saw Penn dominate with superior stand up, whilst all 27 takedown attempts made by Sanchez were negated by Penn's superior defense. Early in the fifth round, Penn landed a head kick that caused a large cut to be opened up on the forehead of Sanchez. Herb Dean called the action to a halt for doctor's advice and the fight ended at 2:37 by TKO, marking the first time Sanchez has been stopped in a fight. This also marked only the second fight in UFC history to end in the fifth round. At the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White was quoted saying Sanchez was "about as busted up as I've ever seen a guy."[7] Sanchez had his bottom lip completely split open, with his left eye swollen shut and a large cut above his left eyebrow.[8]

Return to Welterweight

Sanchez returned to the welterweight division and faced John Hathaway on May 29, 2010 at UFC 114.[9] In the first round of the fight, Hathaway caught Sanchez with a knee to the head as Sanchez attempted a takedown. Hathaway then dominated with ground and pound while all of Sanchez's takedown attempts were negated by Hathaway's strength. The rest of the fight saw Hathaway utilize his superior striking reach, giving him the unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–26), handing Sanchez his second consecutive loss.

Sanchez rejoined Jackson's Submission Fighting for his next fight with Paulo Thiago on October 23, 2010 at UFC 121.[10] In this fight, Sanchez utilized his wrestling to control and punish Thiago in the second and third rounds. He also picked up Thiago and slammed him to the mat while screaming, Sanchez won the bout via unanimous decision.

Sanchez defeated Martin Kampmann by a unanimous decision on March 3, 2011 at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann in a bout that earned Fight of the Night honors.[11] In the bout, Kampmann dropped Sanchez in the first round, and continued to get the better in the exchanges but Sanchez continuously pressured Kampmann into the cage to force wild exchanges in the second and third rounds. By the end of the fight, both men were bloodied up especially Sanchez, whose face was a bloody mess.

Sanchez was expected to face former two-time UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes on September 24, 2011 at UFC 135.[12] However, Sanchez had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken hand.[13]

A bout between Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger was briefly linked to UFC 141.[14] However, a lingering hand injury kept Sanchez out of action until February 2012.[15]

The Ellenberger/Sanchez bout took place on February 15, 2012 at UFC on Fuel TV 1[16] Ellenberger defeated Sanchez via unanimous decision in a bout that earned both fighters Fight of the Night honors.

Return to Lightweight

Sanchez then returned to lightweight and faced Takanori Gomi on March 2, 2013 at UFC on Fuel TV 8.[17] Sanchez failed to make the 156 lb weight limit at the weigh ins, weighing at 158 lbs. He was fined 20 percent of his earnings and the bout was contested at a catchweight of 158 lb.[18] Sanchez defeated Gomi via controversial split decision. 12 of 12 media outlets scored the bout in favor of Gomi.[19]

Sanchez faced Gilbert Melendez on October 19, 2013 at UFC 166.[20] He lost the fight via unanimous decision. The bout earned Sanchez his seventh Fight of the Night bonus award.[21]

Sanchez faced Myles Jury on March 15, 2014 at UFC 171.[22] He lost the fight via unanimous decision.

Sanchez faced [25]

Sanchez was expected to face Norman Parke at UFC 180.[26] However, Parke pulled out of the bout in early October citing a knee injury and was replaced by Joe Lauzon.[27] However, on October 23, it was announced that injuries to both Sanchez and Lauzon led to the pairing being scrapped altogether.[28]

In January 2015, Sanchez had surgery to repair his collarbone that was broken in training.[29]


Sanchez is expected to face Ricardo Lamas in a featherweight bout on November 21, 2015 at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale.[30]

Personal life

Sanchez is married to Bernadette Sanchez.[31]

Championships and awards

Mixed martial arts

  • MMA Freak.com
    • 2013 Fight of the Year vs. Gilbert Melendez
  • New Mexico Boxing
    • 2005 Fighter of the Year[33]
    • 2006 Fighter of the Year[33]
    • 2010 Fighter of the Year[33]

Submission grappling

Amateur wrestling

Mixed martial arts record

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 25–7 Ross Pearson Decision (split) UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov June 7, 2014 3 5:00 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Loss 24–7 Myles Jury Decision (unanimous) UFC 171 March 15, 2014 3 5:00 Dallas, Texas, United States
Loss 24–6 Gilbert Melendez Decision (unanimous) UFC 166 October 19, 2013 3 5:00 Houston, Texas, United States Fight of the Night; Fight of the Year (2013).
Win 24–5 Takanori Gomi Decision (split) UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann March 3, 2013 3 5:00 Saitama, Japan 158 lb catchweight bout as Sanchez missed weight.
Loss 23–5 Jake Ellenberger Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger February 15, 2012 3 5:00 Omaha, Nebraska, United States Fight of the Night.
Win 23–4 Martin Kampmann Decision (unanimous) UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann March 3, 2011 3 5:00 Louisville, Kentucky, United States Fight of the Night.
Win 22–4 Paulo Thiago Decision (unanimous) UFC 121 October 23, 2010 3 5:00 Anaheim, California, United States Fight of the Night.
Loss 21–4 John Hathaway Decision (unanimous) UFC 114 May 29, 2010 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Return to Welterweight.
Loss 21–3 B.J. Penn TKO (doctor stoppage) UFC 107 December 12, 2009 5 2:37 Memphis, Tennessee, United States For the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 21–2 Clay Guida Decision (split) The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom Finale June 20, 2009 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Fight of the Night. Fight of the Year (2009).
Win 20–2 Joe Stevenson Decision (unanimous) UFC 95 February 21, 2009 3 5:00 London, United Kingdom Lightweight Debut; Fight of the Night.
Win 19–2 Luigi Fioravanti TKO (knee and punches) The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs Team Forrest Finale June 21, 2008 3 4:07 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 18–2 David Bielkheden Submission (punches) UFC 82 March 1, 2008 1 4:43 Columbus, Ohio, United States
Loss 17–2 Jon Fitch Decision (split) UFC 76 September 22, 2007 3 5:00 Anaheim, California, United States
Loss 17–1 Josh Koscheck Decision (unanimous) UFC 69 April 7, 2007 3 5:00 Houston, Texas, United States
Win 17–0 Joe Riggs KO (knee) UFC Fight Night: Sanchez vs. Riggs December 13, 2006 1 1:45 San Diego, California, United States Tested positive for marijuana.
Win 16–0 Karo Parisyan Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night 6 August 17, 2006 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Fight of the Night. Fight of the Year (2006).
Win 15–0 John Alessio Decision (unanimous) UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie May 27, 2006 3 5:00 Los Angeles, California, United States
Win 14–0 Nick Diaz Decision (unanimous) The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale November 5, 2005 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 13–0 Brian Gassaway Submission (punches) UFC 54 August 20, 2005 2 1:56 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Return to Welterweight.
Win 12–0 Kenny Florian TKO (punches) The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale April 9, 2005 1 2:49 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won the The Ultimate Fighter 1 Middleweight.
Win 11–0 Jorge Santiago Decision (unanimous) KOTC 37: Unfinished Business June 12, 2004 3 5:00 San Jacinto, California, United States Won the KOTC Welterweight Championship.
Win 10–0 Ray Elbe Submission (punches) KOTC 36: Albuquerque May 15, 2004 1 1:07 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 9–0 Travis Beachler TKO (punches) Pride of Albuquerque April 10, 2004 1 0:35 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 8–0 Cruz Chacon Submission (rear-naked choke) KOTC 35: Acoma February 28, 2004 1 0:41 Acoma, New Mexico, United States
Win 7–0 John Cronk Submission (kimura) KOTC 26: Gladiator Challenge August 3, 2003 2 1:30 Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States
Win 6–0 Rene Kronvold Submission (armbar) KOTC 24: Mayhem June 14, 2003 1 3:39 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 5–0 Mike Guymon Submission (armbar) KOTC 23: Sin City May 16, 2003 1 4:57 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 4–0 Jake Short TKO (punches) KOTC 21: Invasion February 21, 2003 1 2:34 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Win 3–0 Shannon Ritch Submission (rear-naked choke) KOTC 20 - Crossroads December 15, 2002 1 0:59 Bernalillo, New Mexico, United States
Win 2–0 Jesus Sanchez KO (punches) Aztec Challenge 1 September 6, 2002 2 2:33 Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Win 1–0 Michael Johnson Submission (rear-naked choke) Ring of Fire 5 June 21, 2002 1 3:45 Denver, Colorado, United States

See also


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  8. ^ Pan, Jin Yang (December 17, 2009) Diego Sanchez Face: Seriously wounded pictures after the UFC 107 final match with B.J. Penn. Dailyworldbuzz.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-12.
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External links

  • Diego Sanchez Official Website
  • Official UFC Profile
  • Professional MMA record for Diego Sanchez from Sherdog