The inaugural winner of the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” franchise, Diego Sanchez, isn’t going anywhere, yet.
Sanchez, who was the first season’s middleweight tournament winner, got back to action last weekend during Eagle FC 46’s main event. He took on another UFC veteran, Kevin Lee, in a 165-pound clash on March 11, 2022, in Miami, Florida.
It was Sanchez’s first fight outside of the UFC since 2005 and first contest in around a year and a half. “Nightmare” was a sizeable underdog going into the match, however he impressed, taking it to Lee for all three rounds. He ended up losing the match via unanimous decision, but considering the circumstances, he faced before the bout, Sanchez is ready to fight two more times for the promotion.
“I feel like being away from the sport for so long, not being in the cage for so long, not fighting for so long, just a lot of different emotions came up throughout fight week, throughout the weight cut,” Sanchez said post-fight via MMA Fighting. “It wasn’t a normal weight cut for me either because I had seriously almost died in November, December. I had the double pneumonia, the blood clots in the legs and I barely was released from the hospital late December. So it wasn’t easy to get back in shape. It was a lot more difficult this time around.
“But I’m hard-working and I just said you know what, I’m gonna do this. I got the call from Ali [Abdelaziz], I got the call from Eagle FC and they had this opportunity for me. When I saw the first press conference when Kevin Lee signed with Eagle FC I saw the attention that he was getting and I saw the eyes were on him and people were watching. And I knew that this opportunity wasn’t gonna come again. It just was either you man up and you deal with the circumstances and you go and you give it your best and there’s a chance you might get it. And I almost did.”
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Sanchez Promises Fans Will See the ‘Real’ Nightmare Next Time
With such a short time to prepare, and coupled with his battle in the hospital, Sanchez said he was far from his best on fight night. But with everything behind him, he fully plans on returning as the “real” Nightmare.
“Some people told me that they thought I won the second round, that it should have been 29-28, but like I said, this isn’t the best Diego Sanchez ever,” Sanchez said. “I sucked it up and got it done. I got in the best shape I could in five weeks and coming out of retirement, coming out of the hospital.
“When I come back for my second Eagle FC fight because I have two more fights on my contract, you’re going to see the real Diego Sanchez. You’re going to see me in my top physical prime condition and I’m gonna do anything and everything to get there and I’m gonna come and I’m gonna be victorious.”
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Sanchez Wants to Become the 165-Pound Eagle FC Champion, Rematch Lee
Nightmare has two things he wants to accomplish on the top of his list before he retires. The 40-year-old combatant wants another crack at Lee, and he wants to become an Eagle FC champion.
“I’m not done here,” Sanchez said. “I still see that golden Eagle FC championship belt. I know what I’m capable of and I want to get back in there with Kevin Lee. That’s a fight I want. I want that fight, I want to fight him in my top, prime condition. I feel like I’ve seen what he has to bring to the table. He couldn’t get me out of there. He threw everything he had at me and I found some chinks in his armor. I want to get back in there with Kevin Lee.”
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