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16-year UFC vet Diego Sanchez released from roster, shortly after removal from Cerrone bout

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The first ever winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Diego Sanchez is no longer with the UFC.

After 16 long years, veteran Diego Sanchez has parted ways with the UFC.
After 16 long years, veteran Diego Sanchez has parted ways with the UFC.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

On Wednesday, it was reported that UFC veteran Diego Sanchez will no longer be part of his scheduled May 8th bout with Donald Cerrone. No specific reasons were given, as Sanchez and the UFC kept mum about the entire situation.

A day later, the 39-year-old Sanchez posted an Instagram story to say he was “Free at last.” He also tagged other fight promotions namely Bellator, ONE Championship, Brave MMA, and Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, which likely implies his release from the UFC.

Yahoo! Sports correspondent Kevin Iole later confirmed that “The Nightmare” is indeed no longer under contract.

According to Iole’s report, the UFC had been primarily perturbed about the behavior of Sanchez’s coach Joshua Fabia. The School of Self-Awareness guru purportedly asked for all of Sanchez’s medical records dating back to 2004 and was even seen berating some company employees about it.

This drew concern on UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell, who then reached out to Sanchez and Fabia. The latter eventually revealed some “short-term and long-term medical issues” that his fighter may have gone through.

Sanchez did pass pre-fight medical tests, which included a brain scan. The UFC, however, remained apprehensive about allowing him to compete. According to company president Dana White, the UFC “could not put a fighter into the cage in good conscience” if they were unable to confirm if they were fit to fight or not.

Upon failing to have that confirmation, the UFC sent an email to Sanchez on April 27 to notify the termination of his contract.

Sanchez entered the UFC in 2005 through The Ultimate Fighter’s debut season, and for years, he was the only remaining TUF 1 cast member on the roster. He competed in three different weight classes and challenged for the title once as he compiles an 18-13 record.

Sanchez last saw action against Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi last September. He lost via unanimous decision.