Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight Diego Sanchez may be one of the most consistently exciting fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA), but his record has been rather spotty over recent years.
In fact, since dropping a 155-pound title fight against former champion B.J. Penn, Sanchez is a mere 3-4 inside the Octagon.
However, to hear Sanchez tell it, he is just entering the prime of his career ahead of his UFC 171 match against Myles Jury, which takes place this Saturday (March 15, 2014) at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
The secret behind the renewed confidence for "The Nightmare," er, "The Dream" ahead of this weekend's showdown against Jury? Well, just read what the man himself had to say during this past Wednesday's media scrum (see photos gallery here).
"My secret? I'll reveal my secret to you guys. Diego Sanchez has dedicated himself back to yoga. I have been incorporating an extensive hot yoga program ... six days a week, on top of all of my running, on top of all my wrestling training, on top of all my mixed martial arts training. I have found the counterbalance to longevity and the health and healing of being a 32-year-old fighter. And if you really think about it, yoga was what got me in UFC. It was the incentric-ness (sic) of my mind, body, spirit -- outside the box thinking."
Your guess is as good as mine what The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 winner means by the totally made up word "incentric-ness," but nevertheless, it sounds like his recent dedication to hot yoga is really paying dividends. So why did he stop practicing it in the first place if it was such a positive influence?
Sanchez has a pretty amazing explanation:
"For many years I got away from it because of religion. I heard somewhere [that] yoga was bad for you and it's from the devil. So I got away from it. But, in the end result I said, 'Hey man, God created us and our body is a temple. This is excellent for my temple. I'm scrubbing the walls, I'm making the pillars stronger, I'm out there mowing the lawn. I'm taking all the toxins out. I'm taking care of this temple like no other.' So I said, 'No man, that's a lie. God loves yoga. God created our bodies for us to take care of 'em and to do amazing things and be great. So I've been back to my yoga and it's completely taken me to another level: grappling, striking, everywhere. I have the limberness. I'm able to move like I never have before. I give a lot of credit to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the leading all time scorer in the NBA. He's the one who motivated me to get into this yoga, because he claims it was his secret to playing [at] 42 years old. I went back to what got me in UFC and I've had great results. I truly am better than I've ever been right now."
Yoga isn't the only reason the 32-year-old Sanchez claims fans will see him at his best this coming Saturday. According to "The Dream," his loss to Gilbert Melendez in an all time classic at UFC 166 was also instrumental in helping him learn about technical shortcomings he has since worked to correct.
In fact, it was pre-determined:
"It was meant to be for me to lose [to Melendez]. I went home, and I had a lot of thought about it. I went into this karate studio. I just happened to stop by. I wanted to say go say hi to the kids ... go motivate 'em ... go take some pictures. I go in there and do my thing, talk to the kids. [Then] the old master, Melchor Chavez, he pulls me aside and we were talking. I wanted to open my ear and take advice.
He told me, 'You know why you lost that fight, right?'
And I said, 'I dunno man, it could have gone either way.'
And he said, 'Your footwork sucked!'
I had to bite my tongue. I said, 'You're right, my footwork sucked. Is there anyway you could help me with that?
He gave me a couple pointers, a couple tips and I went to work on my footwork. I knew I was a headhunter in [the Melendez] fight. I had to change up my whole striking style."
However, don't take the recent tweaks to his game as an indication that fans can expect a kinder gentler version of Sanchez at UFC 171.
"I'll always be the 'Nightmare' in the cage," Sanchez said. "That's going to be a part of me forever. When I'm in the cage, the 'Nightmare's' gonna be on Myles Jury."