Diego Sanchez was so far down on the judge's scorecards vs. Michel Pereira that only a tapout or knockout would get him the win. And then, with less than a minute left in the final round, Pereira landed an illegal knee to the face of a downed opponent.
The ringside physician ruled that Sanchez could fight on, but he declined to, and was awarded a DQ win. While Sanchez was down 20-18, cornerman Joshua Fabia had - in a characteristic moment of confusion told him the rounds were 1-1 - so the fighter likely believed he could still earn a decision win. Sanchez has received criticism for his choice, but defended the decision in an interview with Mike Bohn for MMA Junkie.
“Did I quit? No,” said Sanchez. “I got hit with a f***ing serious knee to the head. I knew I was going down on the scorecards, I knew how things were rolling out. I made a smart, veteran decision because I know my face is, regardless or not of the last two minutes of the fight, my face is going to be covered in blood. The image is going to be painted on the judges. ... I don’t have a chance of winning that fight anymore. So, did I quit? I made a f***ing smart decision to not put myself in some real danger where I would’ve been injured when that motherf***er hit me with an illegal shot when I was down.”
“That [knee to the ribs that preceded the illegal knee] really injured me ... It broke two of my ribs completely. I went down. ... I’m not your average human being. It did not knock me out, but did it damage me? Yes.
“I don’t need you guys down here like, ‘Oh, I might have the biggest heart in the sport but I quit because I was f***ing scared of Pereira.’ I’ve been doing this longer than f***ing anybody and I deserve a little respect. If the UFC and the MMA community and the media don’t want to give it to me, I’m going to go f***ing take it.”
Sanchez closed by saying he is no longer on a title run, but instead is fighting to create a platform so more people become aware of the benefits of Fabia's School of Self Awareness. At the least, Sanchez has indeed brought attention to Fabia and his efforts.