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Diego Sanchez Talks Hitting Rock Bottom, Reinventing Himself

Diego Sanchez has toyed with greatness throughout his career, only to stumble before crossing the precipice.

The fighter once known as “The Nightmare” dropped to lightweight shortly after a very impressive run at welterweight was stuttered by losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, only to lose brutally in the championship bout he earned with two dominant wins in the division. Following that bloody defeat to then-champ BJ Penn, Sanchez lost his way and was dominated in his return to welterweight by young up-and-comer John Hathaway.

What followed from there was a complete reinvention. Sanchez relocated from California back to his home of Albuquerque, New Mexico and his original training camp at Jackson-Winkeljohn’s and even dropped his old nickname “The Nightmare” as a symbol of his newfound positivity. During a recent media conference call held in promotion for his March 3rd fight with Martin Kampmann, Sanchez discussed his journey to reinvention.

“I went through a really rough situation in San Diego that brought me into a lot of emotional depression and that weighed hard on me, and the Penn fight was really hard for me the way I lost – getting cut up, getting hands put on me the way I did,” Sanchez said. “That never happened to me in my career. So, I had to deal with that and when I came home I moved out of the city and I moved into the mountains and that was the best thing I ever did. I hit rock bottom after the Penn fight, I really did. I blew through all my money. I made bad decisions. Scam artists scammed me real bad. I was in debt over $175,000. I had to come back home. I needed my family’s love. I was humbled 100% back down to zero. I have no ego.”

Sanchez explained that his nickname-abandonment came out of a realization that his attitude and approach to MMA in the past were unhealthy and held him back and that he wanted a sign post to mark his current evolution and growth as a fighter.

“I let ‘The Nightmare’ go,” he said. “To me, I see some negative in it. A nightmare is something that is negative and kind of evil. I don’t want to represent that. I want to represent positivity and good. I look back on my career. ‘The Nightmare’? The nightmare was myself. All the times I fell off track and got into drinking, got into smoking weed, the things that brought me down, the partying. That was my nightmare. I was my own nightmare. I’m grown up. I’m going to let that name go. I just want to be Diego Sanchez. I don’t even need a nickname. I’m me.”

Sanchez looked phenomenal in his last fight with Paulo Thiago and will look to repeat the style of that performance in his upcoming UFC Live fight against Kampmann, which will air live on Versus from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.