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Diego Sanchez: “I hit rock bottom after the Penn fight, I really did…”

Original TUF champ Diego Sanchez has been viewed as a fairly enigmatic individual since bursting onto the UFC scene six years ago with a raw intensity only matched by his at times curious behavior. Matured by both the battles he’s faced in his personal and professional life, the 29-year old now seems to have found some clarity in his life after returning home to train with Greg Jackson in preparation for his UFC 121 bout with Paulo Thiago.

Sanchez spoke about his journey back to Albuquerque earlier today in a conference call with media where he discussed his newfound love of training, the reason he’s shedding his long-time nickname, and how far down he’d actually sunk after losing in such a clear-cut fashion to B.J. Penn at UFC 107.

“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 explained of his motivation in moving back to New Mexico. “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.”

In reference to his loss to John Hathaway, Sanchez replied he was still in a funk even drinking beer after training and didn’t take the Brit seriously at all. Crediting the isolation with restoring his focus on the sport rather than its trappings, Sanchez also made it clear he’s done cutting down to compete as a lightweight.

“The options are closed for me to ever go down to 155 again,” the 22-4 fighter began on the topic. “I brought in an Olympic wrestler and he’s a big 185 pounder and about an inch taller than me. He’s real big on lifting weights and so we go and we lift weights every day after practice. And we hit it hard…I’m doing power lifts, I’m doing squats, I’m doing kettle lifts…and that’s on top our (regular) training.

“It’s really motivated me to be strong,” Sanchez continued. “In my last fight I was really prepared, I worked hard, but I wasn’t physically strong and that’s something you’ve got to have being a welterweight. That’s something I’ve really worked on and I think fans are going to be surprised when they see the way I look, the way I feel…and the way I’m able to (assert) my will with my physical strength.”

Due to his newfound approach to life and interest in putting the past behind him Sanchez also explained his decision to drop “Nightmare” as his nickname, saying in retrospect he was his own “nightmare”.

“I don’t want to represent that. I want to represent positivity and good…the nightmare was myself. All of the times I fell off track and got into drinking and into smoking weed…the things that brought me down, the partying. That was my nightmare, I was my own nightmare, so you know I said, ‘I’m growing up. I’m gonna let that name go and I just want to be Diego Sanchez. I’m me and that’s it.”

On top of the popular Ultimate Fighter winner’s clash with well-rounded XTreme Couture competitor Kampmann, fans can also catch decorated amateur wrestlers C.B. Dollaway and Mark Munoz mix it up in main card action at “UFC on Versus: Sanchez vs. Kampmann”. The show will go live on Versus at 8:00 PM EST.

18 COMMENTS
  • Guthookd says:

    ” I was in debt over $175,000″.
    -Diego Sanchez

    I still am, but at least I have the house, even it it’s only worth $100,000. :)

    Anyone else think he should take Diego “Dirty” Sanchez and just run with it?

  • MCM says:

    What’s more positive than Diego “Yes!” Sanchez?

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Diego’s but his talent is undeniable. I’m pulling for Kampman in this fight, but I won’t be surprised if Sanchez gets the finish.

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Guthooked, now Dirty sounds good.
    I thought Deigo was handled pretty well by Paulo in round 1 and then he tore through him after that so some extra power is going to fit him very well at WW. Glad to see he is staying put also and got his head on right. On any givin night he could handle almost any other WW out there.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Still trying to picture Diego stoned… He would have far too much energy to hang with after smoking…

  • JOEgun says:

    haha! i’d smoke one with diego the dirty sanchez :)

    seriously though. im glad hes hitting the weights again. he didnt look too good physically at 155. he looked much smaller and although lean, he looked too dehydrated.
    with his strength back he should be knockin dudes out at 170 again.

  • JabCrossHook says:

    Good to hear Diego is back to on track, he did seem like the old Diego after the 2nd round against thiago.

    Anyway not trying to go off topic but guthookd what kind of debt is it?
    I actually work in a company that handles debt settlement and loan modification, and we are A rated with the BBB. The most you’ll ever have to pay is 55% of what you owe with the service fee included but we do settle for as low as 14%, so you’ll most likely end up paying less, we just can’t guarantee it because its against the law. If you want to discuss things in better detail I can always send you the link to our website or you can call and I’ll just tell you all the pros and cons of the program so you know everything. /end random sales pitch online

    <=D

  • Stoned friend to Stoned Diego…
    “Hey bro did you want some cookies?”

    “YES!!”

    Good for him continuing to mature. Diego has been around forever yet the guy is only 29 years old. I am not a huge fan of his but for all his craziness and hard work…I’d love to see him join the TUF alumni that have wore gold.

  • BigDave says:

    I hope Diego sticks to his new way of thinking and training. H was not suited for 155 and glad he wont be going back there as he is a true 170 guy if ive ever seen one.

    I have liked this guy from day 1 and have said before that id he can just get his head right the guy will be dangerous to anyone in the cage. With GSP moving up to 185 when he destroys sheilds april 30th in my hometown, The 170 division will be wide open. I think Sanchez can and will beat Kampmann who if anyone remembers is coming off a lose to a guy that could barely stand after the first round.

    Kampman’s top wins are over a 1 dimensional paul dailey and paulo thiago. where as Sanchez has beaten the likes of Nick Diaz. Kenny Florian, and Clay Guida while losing to Penn, a former Champ, and a close split decision to the current number 2 at 170 John Fitch.

    Sanchez has over the top cardio, good all around skills and the relentless pace that Kampmann has not seen and imo will not be able to match.

    Sanchez by early second round submission.

  • Guthookd says:

    It’s debt on a house JabCrossHook. I’m going to keep the fucker forever though, so it’s all good. 30 more years and I’ll actually own it.

  • stone says:

    There isn’t nothing wrong with a lil puff puff pass after a long grueling BJJ session… Still better than getting hooked on muscle relaxers and pain-killers… Just my personal opinion!

  • Rece Rock says:

    I’m on a mission to gather enough to have a down payment for a home now Guthookd but housing is so expensive in NY it’s ridiculous… an hour away homes are at the very least 50% cheaper… it’s insanity. For example a 3 bedroom house with a very small yard and drive way is easily 450K- 500K… a 4 bedroom with a decent yard upwards of 650K. The same houses but newer and in nicer neighborhoods in PA ( Pocono Mt. region ) are like 190K – 250K…. MADDNESS! I’m ready to leave NYC at the drop of a hat but finding a job elsewhere is another massacre.

  • boomnutz says:

    yo Rece I hear you brother…I live right next to Beantown and it’s outrageous (though probably not as bad as your situation) my mom sold her house up here for like 330K and moved down to a nicer house in MS for like 93K…and this is supposed to be prime time to buy…

  • boomnutz says:

    jabhookcross…don’t take offense to this, but I always thought those companies we’re scam artists that ruined your credit, can you enlighten me, i’m the king of debt FYI

  • Kamakosmo says:

    Rece Rock….I thumbed up your post, then wanted to thumb it down, even though I agree with you. The housing prices in NY, especially on LI where I am, are insane. Girlfriend and I are looking at houses, but if you want a nice area, and a nice house, it’s easily 400k!! For a house, like you said, 2 hours away would be 150k. Utter insanity.

    On a side note. Sanchez get’s the Decision win in this fight!! LOL!

  • boomnutz says:

    never been to NYC but aren’t there nice suburbs??? or is it all about being in the city? Personally, I love beantown, would never live in the city, just right outside it, unless I was single again

  • Hey Big Dave, I dont know what you were smoking when it happened but A) carlos condit is a way better win than Paulo Thiago and b) Kapmann got his ass KICKED by Paul Daley…ones an opinion and the other’s a fact, I’ll let you learn which.

    Hey Rece not to advertise and whatnot but my boys band is playin in NYC on feb 25th…they’re a punk band called Bully The Kid
    The National Underground – (212) 475-0611
    159 E. Houston
    New York, NY

    If its not your thing that’s cool, but I gotta advertise for my starvin musician friends.

  • boomnutz says:

    superdave, when I first read that I thought you said “my boy band” and i was like WOW, all respect lost…but it’s ok i got you now

  • Dufresne says:

    I love this website. Where else can you find folks talking about the housing market, local musicians, and MMA without some random troll ruining the comradare?

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