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Following Kevin Lee loss, Diego Sanchez says it was ‘tough to come back out of retirement’

UFC 253 Sanchez v Matthews Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Diego Sanchez did indeed call it a comeback, but couldn’t quite come out with his hand raised against Kevin Lee at Eagle Fighting Championship 46 last week (Fri., March 11, 2022).

Following Sanchez’s release from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in early 2021, it appeared as though “The Nightmare” was hanging up the gloves. That was until Eagle FC came along and paired him opposite his his fellow UFC alum. The duo headlined last week’s card, which saw Lee earn a unanimous decision to make Sanchez 1-3 in his last four fights (30-14 overall).

“Mentally and emotionally, it was an 8.59. Physically, I was more on the 6.57,” Sanchez told Helen Yee after the loss. “Because it was difficult coming back from COVID and I was just released from the hospital in December and it was tough to come back out of retirement. I was walking around at about 195-200. I had to cut the weight down fast. But what I seen was attention and I seen eyes on Kevin Lee when they did the press conference releasing that he had been signed with Eagle FC. And I liked that and I wanted that for my career.

“So when Ali [Abdelaziz] called me up and he said, ‘We got this big fight! They want you and Kevin Lee!’ I said, you know what, this is gonna be now or never. And I said, alright, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna rise to the occasion, I’m gonna bring all my mental fortitude, my strength and my mind, my body, my spirit, and just give it the best, and that’s what I did.”

Sanchez vs. Lee took place in Eagle FC’s Super Lightweight division at 165 pounds, where Sanchez said he felt great and that it felt like the first time in his career an opponent was equal size to him.

The 40-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native has two fights remaining on his deal with the Khabib Nurmagomedov-helmed promotion, so don’t expect this to be the last of the very first winner of The Ultimate Fighter.

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