Diego Sanchez’s wild UFC run is over

Jul 6, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Diego Sanchez (red gloves) before his fight against Michael Chiesa (not pictured) at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The 16-year odyssey that was the Diego Sanchez era in the Ultimate Fighting Championship has officially come to an end.

‘Free at last’?

MMAJunkie was the first to officially confirm the news of Sanchez’s release late last night. The finality of the “Nightmare’s” UFC tenure came after an odd turn of events a little over a week out from his next planned Octagon appearance May 8 against another long-time company veteran, and former teammate in Donald Cerrone.

First, was the afternoon reports of the 39-year-old withdrawing from his next bout without a clear reason why. Then a few hours later came the viral video of his “coach, manager, and mentor” Joshua Fabia confronting the upcoming broadcast team at a pre-fight interview for his charge. Soon after came an Instagram story posting from the New Mexico native stating he was “free at last.” By midnight the 32-fight veteran was a former employee of the MMA world leader.

A weird end to a unique tenure

It’s a strange, yet almost fitting end to a very odd final few years for the Ultimate Fighter 1 winner. After a decorated career as one of the more popular fighters in the promotion, Sanchez has lost four of his last seven and has often looked technically and athletically outmatched by the current talent in the promotion. During his run in the UFC he fought a whose-who of featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight talent. Including a run at legendary 155-pounder BJ Penn during his dominant reign as champion in 2009.

Sanchez will turn 40 on New Years Eve, so there is a great deal of questions about his relevancy and ability to compete at a high level in 2021, but there is no doubt he’s always had a strong fan base and that brings value to likely suitors he may have in mixed martial arts free agency.

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