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Diego Sanchez

Diego ‘The Nightmare’ Sanchez was born on December 31st, 1981 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sanchez began his martial arts training at the age of nine when he enrolled in karate classes and continued to expand on his training in the arts throughout his teen years. He competed in both football and wrestling while attending Del Norde High School in New Mexico, winning the state championship in the 152 pound weight class during his senior year. Diego continued his training after high school while working at UPS, earning a black belt in Gaidojutsu and winning several grappling contests in the meantime.

Sanchez made his debut as a professional MMA fighter in the King of the Cage series in 2002. He achieved nominal success and was chosen by UFC management to compete during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV. After tearing his way through his opponents Sanchez faced Kenny Florian in the final bout. He defeated Florian handily and earned himself a six-figure UFC contract along with the distinction of winning the reality show’s middleweight title.

Diego quickly dropped his weight in order to compete in the UFC’s welterweight division and was scheduled to make his UFC debut versus Brian Gassaway at UFC 54: Boiling Point. Sanchez won the fight with a submission move in the second round. Just over two weeks later Diego faced Nick Diaz at The Ultimate Fighter 2 finale event and, following a strong fight by both athletes, won the fight by unanimous decision. John Alessio and Karo Parisyan fell to Sanchez in the same manner in his following two fights.

UFC Fight Night Live held an event on December 13th, 2006 with a headlining fight between Diego Sanchez and famed welterweight Joe Riggs. Sanchez dominated the first few seconds, eventually landing a strong right hook and knocking Riggs to the mat. Diego immediately struck Riggs with a running knee while he was on the ground, knocking him out cold. This KO was the first non-decision or submission win for Sanchez in his professional fighting career.

A three-month suspension followed after THC was found in Sanchez’s system during the screening for his upcoming bout with Josh Koscheck. The bout was rescheduled to take place at UFC 69 and the bad blood between the two was fueled by a shoving match at the official weigh-in. Although it was expected to be the most exciting fight of 2007, the match proved to be slow and underpaced with both fighters exchanging soft blows and rarely attempting take-downs. Koscheck’s superior stand-up skills earned him the win by unanimous decision, ending Diego’s undefeated status in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Rumors abounded as the Sanchez’s condition going into the fight and UFC CEO Dana White announced shortly after that Sanchez had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C on the eve of the bout. The test results were later found to be incorrect and it was determined that Sanchez’s sickness was caused by a serious Staph infection.

Sanchez began work on overcoming his illness and was scheduled to battle Jon Fitch at UFC 76 on September 22nd, 2007.
 

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