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We don't often hear about the perils of life outside the cage as a UFC star, but Diego Sanchez has become firmly established as one of MMA's great cautionary tales. A recent article on Sanchez, who fights Jake Ellenberger this Wednesday at UFC on Fuel TV, discusses several of the issues that saw Diego hit near rock bottom.
"I got sucked real deep into the fame and the money," Sanchez said recently on The MMA Hour. "I was a bachelor and I got sucked into a bad life of partying. I got really into smoking weed, drinking, partying. After my Clay Guida fight, I went down a bad path, man. It was just not a good path. After my loss to B.J. Penn it just got worse. I got really out of control."
"To make it worse, one of my best friends completely robbed me blind...Set me up and embezzled me for about $150,000."
"In February of 2010, I had hit rock bottom, completely. I was broke. I was down and out, man," Sanchez recalled. "This guy had run me dry. The money had I set away to pay taxes, I was $230,000 in debt with the I.R.S."
Sanchez also talks about being lied to by a woman who said that her child was Diego's. After years of raising the child as his own, it turned out that Diego was not the baby's father.
I wrote about this last August, but even guys like Manny Pacquiao, who make millions of dollars per fight, are basically going broke. His trainer, Freddie Roach, said that Manny burns through money at an incredible rate because of his political "career" as well as his basically supporting a small army of hangers on who he flies everywhere with him, puts them up in hotels, pays for all of their expenses and so on.
As I said then, it's easy for fans to scoff and talk abut how they would never have problems if they made the money professional athletes pull. But, if it were really that simple would we see it happen over and over again to these athletes. Fame comes to these people at a young age or it comes to people who didn't have much growing up and they aren't really fully equipped to handle it.
Diego says that he has now "put everything in god's hands." But I can only hope that he also put some of it in the hands of better mortal advisers so that he ends up with a nice life ahead of him.