Diego Sanchez was set to finish his fighting career in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) against Donald Cerrone on May 8, 2021. It was quite the fitting bout to put a bow on Diego’s career: both fighters are absolute dogs and have provided us with years of entertainment inside and outside of the cage.
Unfortunately, another wave of drama seemingly unleashed by Sanchez’s controversial coach, Josh Fabia, resulted in UFC pulling the plug on Sanchez vs. Cerrone and the release of “Nightmare” from his contract with the promotion.
Dana White didn’t mince words about the situation when talking to the press.
“One of the sad things that happens, not just in fighting but in sports, and I want you to quote me on this, are these creepy weirdos who come from God knows where and leech onto fighters or athletes,” he said. “They never do any good for them. Somehow, this creep got into Diego’s life and has been controlling him.”
Fellow The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) alumni and long-time friend / training partner Rashad Evans apparently feels the same way. He reached out to Diego over Instagram begging Sanchez to re-evaluate his relationship with Fabia:
“You messed around and let that con artist Josh Fabia use you to try and get a lawsuit against the UFC,” Evans wrote. “They sensed it because it was obvious that your manager / coach was about to get litigious. I wish you the best my friend but you must get this guy out of your life. He is a parasite.”
Evans is referring to phone calls between Fabia and UFC exec Hunter Campbell that seemed to imply Sanchez might be suffering from long-term effects of his 19-year fighting career. Fabia had demanded all of the medical documentation UFC had on Sanchez, which set off red flags.
“If you’re concerned or (Sanchez is) concerned that he’s having negative effects, then we’re not going to fight him,” Campbell said in a phone call released by Sanchez (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “And I’m going to pull the fight right now and we’re going to call it a day and we’ll release him and he can go do something else with his life, because I’m not putting anybody in that cage that doesn’t feel 100 percent or thinks they’re suffering from any medical issues.
“I need a confirmation in writing that he’s physically able to compete, he’s not suffered any ill effects of being an MMA fighter, he doesn’t feel like he has any brain issues or cognitive issues,” Campbell continued. “I’ve got to go through the whole battery that I do with everybody that sort of makes a claim that at least they’re telling me that you made in this situation. And if he’s not comfortable doing that, then we pull the fight and we move on. It’s very simple.”
There was something of an implication made during the call that this could be the precursor to a lawsuit similar to what former UFC fighter Mark Hunt leveled at UFC in the past.
“So I went through this with Mark Hunt, and here’s the reality: If you’re concerned or (Sanchez is) concerned that he’s having negative effects, then we’re not going to fight him and I’m going to pull the fight right now and we’re going to call it a day and we’ll release him and he can go do something else with his life, because I’m not putting anybody in that cage that doesn’t feel 100 percent or thinks they’re suffering from any medical issues.”
On one happy note in this situation, UFC payed Sanchez his show and win money for the UFC Vegas 26 bout in full, a sum of more than $200,000.
More on this story as it develops ...