Diego Sanchez left his longtime stable in JacksonWink, after he says the coaches there didn’t “appreciate” or “value” him despite years in the team and pouring “thousands and thousands of dollars into that gym.” There’s been other public fallouts between the gym and other fighters, so this in itself hasn’t been the most surprising development, but Sanchez’s choice for a replacement coach is.
Sanchez replaced an entire camp of coaches and trainers, and during his last two bouts, instead of three men, he has been coached by a single cornerman. That man is Josh Fabia, who doesn’t have much martial arts experience, and is the founder of the “School of Self Awareness.”
Sanchez calls him a “guru” who has mentored and “healed” him, but the new coach has been criticized during their first bout together.
Prior to that one-sided loss to Michael Chiesa, Fabia stated “I don’t foresee needing to do the in-between-the-rounds thing.” Both during and after the loss, pundits pointed out how he didn’t give any usable technical advice or adjustments during the one-sided defeat.
His “unique” training practices have also been making the rounds on social media.
Saturday night was their second bout together, and as Sanchez faced Michel Pereira, his lone cornerman and guru was once again put under the spotlight.
Here’s a transcript of his corner advice in between rounds one and two:
Fabia to Sanchez: “Five recovery breaths. Five recovery breaths.”
“Sip the water. Breathe in. Good.”
“Five recovery breaths! In the nose, out the mouth.”
“Listen carefully. Listen carefully. You are stopping your motion. Do not wait to see your work. I need forward, forward pressure. I need you to get off the line before you attack. Off the line before you attack.”
“Bee drill. Bee drill. Think of the shadow. Shadow!”
“I need you to get in. Get in, get behind. If it gets tight, if it gets sticky, take him to the ground.”
“Get on top. Give me some ride time. Give me some ground and pound.”
Trevor Wittman, a respected veteran MMA coach, was also part of the UFC Rio Rancho broadcast. He is tasked to provide analysis of the corner advice being given, and he was befuddled by Josh Fabia’s advice to Sanchez.
Wittman: “Uhh. Strange. Listening to that last corner work was very strange. I mean, I don’t know if it was code, or what, but he was talking about being tight and sticky, keep the movement, but don’t keep the movement like… This is — I’ve known Diego for a long period of time. This is just very strange to me.”
“He’s tough, he’s always got the heart to fight, but again, I don’t see what’s going on right now.
“For me it’s hard to watch because I know Diego, I know how good he is, his wrestling. I feel like he has to go forward, fight! Make it a fight. Sitting on the outside, he is just going to take damage and it is hard to watch.”
Sanchez would go on to get battered even more with strikes in round two, including Pereira scoring a takedown during the last ten seconds. Fabia went on to say that Sanchez won the first round, and then lost the second because of that late takedown.
Fabia: “Listen to me. You need to go, alright? You need to go. I need to see you go swinging. You know why? Because you’ve got nothing to lose now.”
“He just won that round with that throw. You had the other round on points, on contact. Alright?”
Sanchez: “Okay. Yup.”
Fabia: “So you’ve got to get a takedown. You’ve got to hold him down. You’ve got to work this motherf—ker over. You hear me?”
Sanchez: “Yes. Yes, sir.”
Fabia: “You’ve got to do your f—king job. Get to work. Alright?”
Sanchez: “Yes, sir.”
Fabia: “Quit acting like you don’t know how to do it. Do not let him trigger you —” (audio cuts off as broadcast shows replays)
The UFC commentators then criticized Fabia’s corner advice once again as the third round started. Wittman also brought up Sanchez’s seemingly ineffective and defensive hand position that he was using for most of the fight.
Cormier: “Pereira dominated the second round. I may be a little lost here, because Diego’s coach said he’s winning — he won the first round.”
Fitzgerald: “Diego’s corner told him he won the first round, on points. He still asked for urgency here in the third and final round, but I don’t know if you can tell somebody that.”
Wittman: “Oh he didn’t win the first round. He did not win the first round. The thing is, he needs some technical advice on how he closes the gap, and what he needs to do. Yes, we know his go to, he’s got to wrestle, but give some technical stuff!
“I just feel like what is going on tonight, and watching this, it’s crazy! It’s crazy. It’s unique.
“Again, it is hard to watch Diego in this moment right here. It’s different.”
(Sanchez starts feinting)
Wittman: “That’s better. See him moving up and down, changing levels — do what you used to do! You were world class! He’s got the heart, he’s got the chin. He’s got it all, but some technical advice — and not walking straight into shots or riding the cage with weird hand stance that he has… like a defensive stance, I don’t know.”
Sanchez continued to lose most of the round, eventually getting hurt and dropped by multiple knees to the body. Unfortunately, Pereira then followed up with an illegal knee to the head as Sanchez was on the mat, and it put a stop to the action.
The following is Sanchez’s conversation with the referee Jason Herzog:
Herzog: “He got kneed in the head while he was down. The doctor is right here, he’s going to look at you.”
Sanchez: “He kneed me while I was down?”
Herzog: “We’re looking at this right now. Doctor is going to look at this cut.”
Herzog to officials: “Give me a towel!”
Sanchez: (Inaudible, shaking his head to doctor)
Herzog: (Walks to Pereira) “He was down. He was on his knees! No! You cannot knee.”
Herzog: (Gets towel and walks to Sanchez) “How are we doing?”
Sanchez: “That was an illegal shot.”
Herzog: “Yeah, yeah. You have a little time, sir. Take your time right here.”
(Herzog gives towel to doctor, who wipes off all the blood)
Herzog to outside official: “Sir, I’m trying to give him a little time now. Doctor says the cut is okay. He was illegally kneed while he was down. I’m trying to give him as much time to see if he can continue.”
Doctor to Herzog: “He says he can’t see out of that eye.”
Herzog: “Do you need some more time here? Let’s give you a little time. If you can continue, we’ll let you continue. (inaudible) We’ll give you a couple more seconds, okay?”
(Inaudible, doctor and Herzog briefly speak.)
Herzog: “We have some time here. When you’re ready, if you want to continue.”
Sanchez: “Is it a DQ if I can’t continue?”
Herzog: “I’ll take it up with the commission and we’ll go through all the protocols. But just let me know if you want to continue or not. This is the final round for you, you were illegally kneed while you were down.”
Sanchez: “Can you bring in my coach?”
Herzog: “No, we can’t. You can’t have a coach. You just tell me if you want to continue or not.”
(Sanchez shakes head)
Herzog: “Just tell me and I can give you some time. You can’t continue?”
Sanchez: “No. It was an illegal shot. I can’t see, the blood (touches eye) I can’t see. It was an illegal shot, man. It was an illegal shot.”
Herzog then immediately waved off the fight, and Sanchez was awarded a disqualification win.