Diego Sanchez has an extraordinarily exciting fighting style. The Nightmare is always intent on finishing the fight, and pays little heed to the cost, like getting hit. He was never knocked out in his first 34 fights, but at UFC 200, Joe Lauzon dropped him in 86 seconds. Sanchez rebounded with a win over Marcin Held, but at UFC Fight Night 108, he lost again via KO, this time in 98 seconds. Then Matt Brown knocked him out at UFC Fight Night 120 on November 11, 2017 in Round 1t.
A number of fans and fellow fighters expressed hope that at 36, he would give retiring some consideration. That is not happening.
Ahead of his fight Saturday night at UFC 228 vs. Craig White, Sanchez said his career was in a rebirth.
“The thought of after fighting is not here in this mind the way it is in these other fighters,” said Sanchez in an interview for MMAjunkie as transcribed by Mike Bohn. “That’s why they’ve all came and gone, that’s why they’ve all opened up gyms and become businessmen and gone on to other careers. In my mind that’s never been an option. Plan A was the only way. There wasn’t a Plan B because Plan A is the only way. My vision and my focus was Plan A. There may be a lot of distractions along the road. I have hit some distractions, and I have also hit some failures. There’s been some real bumps in the road.
“It’s not easy. It’s not easy to keep your dream alive. It’s not. There was a point where I even lost it. I said, ‘You know, maybe I can’t become UFC champion. Let’s be like ‘Cowboy’ [Cerrone] and just fight as many fights as we can and make as much good money as we can while we can.’ But the fire in my heart, it never died for that UFC championship belt. It just died down.”
“I don’t care what the keyboard warriors of the world have to say – ‘Oh, he’s punch drunk and he’s brain dead and please retire.’ They say, ‘Please retire, Diego. Please retire.’ Because they want me to be average like them. They want me to fall into that textbook of normal, normalcy. That’s not me. I am the anomaly to that textbook. I am the way, way way, outside the box weird guy that’s freakin’ like an alien. ‘This guy’s an alien, he’s like The Iceman Wim Hof. At 52 years old running marathons in the desert without a drip of water. Breaking Guinness World Records.’ That’s the type of mindset that I’m on. I’m tapping into my primitive brain. I’m on some next-level mind, body, spirit.”
“Right now at this point in my career, I feel and I know where I belong. I don’t belong at 155. There’s a reason I did not win that belt against B.J. Penn. That was not my destiny to win that belt at UFC 107. Now is the time of the rebirth of Diego Sanchez. It seems like a real long shot because it is a long shot. It is like the Michael Bisping story, but it’s not the Michael Bisping story. It’s the Diego story. This long-shot story is a story that says, ‘I ain’t ever giving up.’ I’m not going to quit.
“I’m just still getting better. I’m getting better and better and better and better. The crazy thing is I’m so healthy right now. My mind is healthy, my body is healthy. I’m healthy all the way around, and I feel great. For this fighting stuff I’m just going to do what God put me here to do. I’m a warrior, I’m a fighter. No one knows how long they’ve live. No one knows what’s going to happen in their life, if they’re going to get cancer, if they’re going to get hit by a truck, or a train like Matt Hughes. No one knows when is the next day, but for me, I’m going to continue to do what I love and I’m living for this. I’m living for this dream that’s in my heart, and in the end it will be like a Michael Bisping story where God gets all the glory in the end.”