As he prepares to enter the Octagon for the 20th time at UFC 171, Diego Sanchez feels like he’s entering into his prime. That’s a bit scary, especially given the fact that the other winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin, retired two years ago. Also retired from fighting is the man Sanchez beat to win the ‘six-figure’ UFC contract, Kenny Florian. In fact, every one of his TUF 1 cast-mates has either officially retired or unofficially done so. Sanchez is the last man standing.
As some fighters age, they begin to think twice before taking fights with much younger competition. Not Diego Sanchez. ‘The Nightmare’ has shown us over the years an unwavering fearlessness, in his fights with Nick Diaz, Clay Guida, BJ Penn, and most recently in his scrap-for-the-ages with Gilbert Melendez. As he prepares himself to take on Myles Jury, who is seven-years younger than Sanchez, he has focused on the recovery and longevity that he needs to compete with the best in the division.
“Grappling, striking, everywhere. I have the limberness, and I’m able to move like never before.”
Sanchez has always taken a much more holistic approach to fighting and preparation, and has always been known for his fierce mental game. From the ‘Yes’ chants during his walkouts, to the epic mean-mugging he does to his opponents during weigh-ins and staredowns, Sanchez has always been trying to achieve a new level of concentration, focus, and pressure on his opponent.
“I’ll always be ‘The Nightmare’ in the cage. That’s going to be a part of me forever. But when I’m outside the cage, I’m about the positivity, and ‘The Dream’. And being a motivation, and an inspiration, to young kids, and to anyone who has fallen down into the realm of self-destruction and the negative energy of the world.”
His constant quest to rid himself of negativity very well could be the secret to longevity in the fight game for Sanchez, as his fearless brawling style has led to him enduring a lot of punishment over the years. BJ Penn nearly had to decapitate Sanchez to get him to stop pushing forward, and Gilbert Melendez threw the kitchen sink at him for 15 minutes in his last fight. The punishment adds up, and takes a physical and mental toll. Sanchez told reporters at the open workouts that his brawling style is a thing of the past, and he’s using his newly diversified tool kit to show a new side of himself against Myles Jury.
“I’m done being good. I’m done being some brawler. I’m going to go in there, and show greatness.”
Against Jury, he faces a young, talented, and undefeated prospect, who has everything to gain with a win over Sanchez. Jury is a serious threat to anyone in the lightweight division, but isn’t as well-known or highly-ranked as some of Sanchez’s past competition. Neither of those things mean anything to Diego Sanchez, who is focused solely on his own growth, and his quest to the top of the sport.
“Myles Jury is a small little block on my tracks, and I’m going to explode through that little blockage and move onto the next thing.”
“He’s not going to know what’s hitting him” Sanchez said.
“I have the wisdom, the experience, and I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m ready to go show greatness.”