At Saturday's UFC on ESPN+ 25, Diego Sanchez got beat in every corner of the Octagon in front of a hometown crowd. Then, with less than two minutes to go, opponent Michel Pereira landed an illegal knee on a downed opponent, opening a substantial cut.
There was a break for Sanchez to be examined by a fight doc, who ruled the fighter was physically able to continue. Sanchez then said he couldn't see out of the eye, and asked referee Jason Herzog what would happen if he didn't fight on? Would there be a disqualification? Herzog rightly didn't answer directly, saying he would confer cageside with the New Mexico Athletic Commission.
Sanchez has probably spilled more blood in the Octagon than the rest of last night’s card combined. He’s been a pro for 18 years and has spent 15 of them in the UFC. He is the longest-tenured fighter in UFC history, with 5,425 straight days on the roster. He has the second most nightly bonuses all time. He has earned every dollar and victory he’s ever made.
If you are one of those people inclined to criticize him for taking the easy way out, please reconsider everything he’s already suffered throughout his career, and remember that it was Pereira that created this situation, not Sanchez.?
Everything seemed hopeless until suddenly, grace was sent his way by way of a careless opponent. That was the silver lining for Sanchez on Saturday. He got a win that was part gifted yet wholly earned in blood. If anyone deserves one of those without explanation or criticism, it’s Sanchez.