Through his odd corner advice at UFC Rio Rancho and the interviews that followed, the MMA world now knows a little more about Diego Sanchez’s trainer Joshua Fabia. The two began working together in 2019, and became Sanchez’s sole trainer for his UFC 239 fight against Michael Chiesa in July.
Late last year, Sanchez was supposed to face welterweight Emil Meek. But since the fight never came to fruition, the two decided to train together. And it was during these training sessions when Meek was first introduced to Fabia’s ways.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, the 31-year-old Norwegian fighter described how those training sessions went.
“I went in full-belief mode: everything they tell me to do, I’m going to do it 100 per cent,” said Meek. “Man, it was the craziest sh-t I’ve ever done. At one point, Joshua, he was running after us in a locked cage with a real, sharp blade, to make us move.”
Meek says he tried to talk to Sanchez about his ties with Fabia after the Michel Pereira fight last weekend, but he expects nothing other than a possible career slide for the TUF 1 alum.
“I’m not going to slam them too much, but I think he kind of lost his grip on it,” Meek said of Sanchez. “I even reached out to him after the fight [with Pereira] and I was like ‘hey, I’m sorry to see you perform this way, and I think you can do a lot better. Please at least consider what I’m saying’.
“I think this is the problem. (Diego’s) always been out there, he’s always been doing his crazy sh-t, but he’s always been able to supplement it with his MMA training because he’s been a hard worker. Now he’s stepping away from that and just doing the crazy things.
“I don’t think he’s going to do very well in the UFC with this stuff,” he added.
In a separate interview with MMA Fighting, Fabia explained how the said knife drill helps prepare fighters for actual strikes in a bout.
“The drill is, they’re all in the octagon, moving, trying not to touch each other, or get touched by each other,” he explained. “So I want you to think of an athletic, high-speed game of tag that allows you to play, but also play with that fear and anxiety space, without getting hurt, without feeling you can’t make a mistake.
“And so, this is happening, five, six, seven, eight, guys, and I progressively come in and I say, ‘On top of the game that’s going on, this is to enhance your awareness, now I’m coming in, do not allow me to touch you also,” he added. So now I’m like a wild animal, putting pressure on all of them and not allowing them to stay focused on their specific thing, and just moving them.
“This is what I do. I go out, they’re continuing again, I come in with a stick, make them move from the stick at different lengths and different speeds. This is why Pereira didn’t land those big kicks on Diego. Amazing.”
As Fabia further explains...
“So now, the drill has been picked up, and now you need truth, because I can tell that you’re playing,” he continued. “You’re not treating each touch as if it was true danger. Where if I treat each strike as a knife strike, you will move. Now before this drill even began, I showed them the power of the history of metal in the human body by showing them that Diego, with his eyes closed, I can move a knife toward his body, and his body will feel it.
“You can see his body reacting. That the human body can feel metal; it’s different. It’s from the history of how much the human body has been stabbed. I show them visually, they see it, they have idea.
“Now, 20 minutes later, yeah, I chase them around with a knife to make them move, so they realize, I’m not playing around. And if you think the guy in the ring when it’s one-on-one is playing around, that might be why you end up losing an eye.”
Later reports also claim that Fabia had Sanchez prepare a Stone Cold Stunner-like death move for Chiesa, which he warned the Athletic Commission could be a fatal technique.