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Diego J. Sanchez (born December 31, 1981 in Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker) is a Mexican-American mixed martial artist with a background in wrestling and Gaidojutsu, system of submission wrestling developed by his longtime, but now former, trainer Greg Jackson. Sanchez is the winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series and currently fights as a lightweight with the Ultimate Fighting Championship .He currently trains at The Arena, a Professional MMA fight gym in San Diego, where he is coached by Jiu Jitsu legend Saulo Ribeiro. On December 12, 2009, Sanchez will face BJ Penn for the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 107.

MMA career

Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez wrestled for his high school in New Mexicomarker before starting training MMA while working for UPS. Sanchez eventually joined Jackson's Submission Fighting, still while working for UPS managing the time between work and training. In 2002, he made his MMA debut for King of the Cage where he also later became a champion.

His UFC debut came when he 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 winning a fight against Kenny Florian, becoming the middleweight winner for the first season of the show. Shortly after, Sanchez dropped to welterweight, defeating Brian Gassaway, Nick Diaz, John Alessio, Karo Parisyan, and Joe Riggs.

Sanchez' last fight before his loss to Josh Koscheck was against Joe Riggs on December 13, 2006 at UFC Fight Night 7. Sanchez landed a right hook that knocked Riggs down, followed by a running knee that knocked Riggs out. Sanchez won at 1:45 of the first round, scoring the first UFC knockout of his career.

Sanchez was then cleared to fight Koscheck after serving a three-month suspension following a failed drug test where Sanchez tested positive for the agents found in marijuana.

At the weigh-in for UFC 69, Sanchez shoved Koscheck while they stared each other down.

Sanchez ended up losing by decision to Josh Koscheck at UFC 69, ending his undefeated run, in a fight that was virtually all stand up. Predicted to be one of the best fights of 2007, the bout was slow paced, with very few exchanges. Going into the final moments of the third round, Sanchez was expected to advance in aggression in order to attempt a win, but instead he remained timid, throwing very short, under powered jabs. Koscheck managed to keep Sanchez at bay with superior hand speed and footwork until the bout timed out, to take the win 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. 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.

In his next fight he lost a split decision to Jon Fitch at UFC 76 on September 22, 2007 before rebounding against David Bielkheden at UFC 82 with a submission due to strikes. Following the win, Sanchez stopped former Marine 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.

Move to Lightweight

His next fight was then scheduled for February 21, 2009 at UFC 95 against Joe Stevenson in the lightweight division. 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.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.

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.

He is scheduled to fight B.J. Penn for the UFC Lightweight Championship on December 12, 2009 at UFC 107.

Personal life

Diego was engaged to Ali Sonoma. The pair separated.

He is also a born-again Christian, often thanking Jesus on television for being able to fight.

Championships and awards

Ultimate Fighting Championship
The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight Tournament Winner
Two time Fight of the Night Honors
King of the Cage
KOTC Welterweight Championship

MMA record

  • UFC lists Sanchez's record as 23-2, counting his two wins on The Ultimate Fighter 1, while other sources list his record as 21-2

Result Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
B.J. Penn UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez Memphis, Tennesseemarker, USmarker
align='center' yWin 21–2 Clay Guida Decision (Split) The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, USmarker
align='center' yWin 20–2 Joe Stevenson Decision (Unanimous) UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson 3 5:00 London, Englandmarker
align='center' yWin 19–2 Luigi Fioravanti TKO (Strikes) The Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale 3 4:07 Las Vegas, Nevada, USmarker
align='center' yWin 18–2 David Bielkheden Submission (Strikes) UFC 82: Pride of a Champion 1 4:43 Columbus, Ohiomarker, USmarker
align='center' Loss 17–2 Jon Fitch Decision (Split) UFC 76: Knockout 3 5:00 Anaheim, Californiamarker, USmarker
align='center' yLoss 17–1 KoscheckJosh Koscheck Decision (Unanimous) UFC 69: Shootout 3 5:00 Houston, Texasmarker, USmarker
align='center' xWin 17–0 RiggsJoe Riggs KO (Punches) UFC Fight Night 7 1 1:45 San Diego, Californiamarker, USmarker
align='center' xWin 16–0 ParisyanKaro Parisyan Decision (Unanimous) UFC Fight Night 6 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, USmarker
align='center' xWin 15–0 AlessioJohn Alessio Decision (Unanimous) UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie 3 5:00 Los Angeles, CAmarker, USmarker
align='center' xWin 14–0 DiazNick Diaz Decision (Unanimous) The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale 3 5:00 Las Vegas, NV, USmarker
align='center' xWin 13–0 GassawayBrian Gassaway Submission (Strikes) UFC 54: Boiling Point 2 1:56 Las Vegas, NV, USmarker
align='center' xWin 12–0 FlorianKenny Florian TKO (Strikes) The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale 1 2:46 Las Vegas, NV, USmarker
align='center' xWin 11–0 SantiagoJorge Santiago Decision (Unanimous) King of the Cage 36: Unfinished Business 3 5:00 San Jacinto, Californiamarker, US
align='center' xWin 10–0 ElbeRay Elbe Submission (Strikes) King of the Cage 35: Albuquerque 1 1:07 Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker, US
align='center' xWin 9–0 BeachlerTravis Beachler TKO Pride of Albuquerque 3 0:35 Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker, US
align='center' xWin 8–0 ChaconCruz Chacon Submission Independent Event N/A N/A New Mexicomarker, US
align='center' xWin 7–0 CronkJohn Cronk Submission (kimura) King of the Cage 26: Gladiator Challenge 2 1:30 Las Cruces, New Mexico, US
align='center' xWin 6–0 KronvoldRene Kronvold Submission (Armbar) King of the Cage 24: Mayhem 1 3:39 Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
align='center' xWin 5–0 GuymonMike Guymon Submission (Armbar) King of the Cage 23: Sin City 1 4:57 Las Vegas, Nevada, US
align='center' xWin 4–0 ShortJake Short TKO (Strikes) King of the Cage 21: Invasion 1 2:34 Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
align='center' xWin 3–0 RitchShannon Ritch Submission (Rear Naked Choke) King of the Cage 20: Crossroads 1 1:01 Bernalillo, New Mexicomarker, US
align='center' xWin 2–0 SanchezJesus Sanchez TKO Aztec Challenge 1 1 N/A Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahuamarker, Mexico
align='center' xWin 1–0 JohnsonMichael Johnson Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Ring of Fire 5: Predators N/A N/A Coloradomarker, US


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