Of all the competitors from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez is the only one still competing in mixed martial arts. Sanchez, the eventual winner of the season, recently competed at UFC 253 against Jake Matthews and the performance was less than ideal for the 44-fight veteran.
Despite making history by securing the third highest total fight time in the UFC, Sanchez was dominated by Matthews, especially in the final round. Sanchez was cut open and poured blood all over the canvas before the fight came to an end. He went on to lose to Matthews by way of unanimous decision.
It was tough to watch, and UFC President Dana White believes he needs to think about Sanchez and his fight future going forward. Speaking to the media assembled in Abu Dhabi, White sang his praises, but quickly came to grips with the uncertainty surrounding Sanchez.
“I love Diego Sanchez and I don’t know,” said White (video by MMA Fighting). “I don’t know. It’s something I’ve got to think about and its obviously something that I got to talk to the guys about back when we get home in the office and see what everybody thinks. I got these guys now — you got Diego Sanchez, who fights his heart out every time he fights. He was part of TUF 1. Everybody knows how I feel about those guys and he’s just a great person.”
White has spoken about the significance of The Ultimate Fighter and why the show has been one of the greatest achievements in his career thus far, which is why someone like Sanchez is so close to him. However, even he realizes that there comes a time where some of his favorite fighters start to slow down.
White compared the situation to that of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who competed last weekend against Niko Price in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 11. Cerrone and Price fought to a majority draw, and it was this performance that left White thinking about having a conversation with Cerrone, much like the one he is now considering with Sanchez.
“Then you got ‘Cowboy’, who you can say all the same things about, and as these guys start to get older and start racking up some losses, it’s tough, you know? But Diego is like — I want to say I don’t know for sure off the top of my head, but he’s won three out of his last five or something like that. But, yeah. It’s tough. It’s the not fun part of this job.”
White is correct in that Sanchez has won three out of his last five fights. Sanchez defeated Craig White, Mickey Gall and Michel Pereira with losses Michael Chiesa and Matthews.
In 2019, Sanchez signed a four-fight deal with the promotion and intended on retiring after completing this new contract, so it will be interesting to see what happens now after this loss. If Sanchez were to stop fighting, he would finish his professional career with an overall record of 30-13.