After winning the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Diego `Nightmare’ Sanchez was well on his way to a shot at the UFC Welterweight title destroying everyone in his path. After two straight losses though, at the hands of Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, Sanchez found himself rebuilding to establish himself in the welterweight title picture. After winning his last bout, Sanchez looks to make it two in a row against Luigi Fioravanti on June 21st at the Season Finale of TUF 7. In this MMANews.com exclusive, Sanchez talks with Chris Howie to discuss many topics including his upcoming fight, where he sees himself in the UFC WW division, his deam fight, and much much more…
Chris Howie of MMANews.com: This is Chris Howie with MMANews.com and today I am speaking with UFC Welterweight Diego Sanchez. How are you doing today Diego?
MMANews.com: How has your training gone for the upcoming fight with Luigi Fioravanti?
Diego Sanchez: It’s been going awesome. I’m in great shape you know? It’s been a long training camp and this is where I turn it up and make sure that I try and peak at the right time.
MMANews.com: When did you go into training camp following your last fight?
Diego Sanchez: Aww man, I took about two weeks then I got straight back into business.
MMANews.com: How are you feeling you match up with Luigi?
Diego Sanchez: I think it’s a pretty decent match up. He has good BJJ skills and he is a brawler. I don’t feel threatened by that though because it is nothing that I haven’t been in there against before, it’s just time for me to go there and play my game.
MMANews.com: How are you feeling going into this fight mentally?
Diego Sanchez: Mentally, I’m very confident. This fight is another stepping stone for me to get to a title shot. I’m going to go in there and play my game and that’s it.
MMANews.com: With the mention of a title shot, how did two losses in a row knock you out of your groove so to speak?
Diego Sanchez: Dude, you know all I can really do right now is look back and laugh but a lot of scenarios are going to start playing themselves out so I think that as long as I come out and put on an exciting fights, who knows, maybe you will be see going up against GSP or BJ Penn or a Matt Hughes. We’ll see. As long as I dominate Luigi.
MMANews.com: Where are you training at nowadays?
Diego Sanchez: A few different Jiu-Jitsu schools and I do my stand up at Alliance and Throwdown.
MMANews.com: What differences have you noticed since switching camps?
Diego Sanchez: Change is good you know? I get to train down by the beach now. I train a lot of BJJ and ground work. I focused on boxing for nearly two years and now it’s time to go back to my bread and butter and that’s on the ground.
MMANews.com: So you would say you are focusing on your ground game more in training nowadays?
Diego Sanchez: Yeah most definitely. I’d say I do roughly 65% Jiu-Jitsu
MMANews.com: How is your conditioning going into the fight?
Diego Sanchez: It’s good man. You know, when you got it you got it.
MMANews.com: Where do you see yourself sitting in the Welterweight picture in the UFC right now?
Diego Sanchez: Probably around number 5. It would go St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Hughes, Koschek and me.
MMANews.com: Looking back at the Koscheck fight is that a fight you would like to have back?
Diego Sanchez: I will have that fight back someday. When the time comes I will have it. I’m not going anywhere, Kocheck isn’t going anywhere, and Fitch isn’t going anywhere. We are in the top of the division. The best fighters in the top of the weight class have great wrestling and then you have other great fighters like Carlos Condit who is a good fighter but doesn’t have the wrestling.
MMANews.com: What are your thoughts on one of the big fights in your division this weekend with Matt Hughes taking on Thiago Alves?
Diego Sanchez: I don’t see Alves coming out on top in this fight. He’s really stepped his game lately but I don’t think he’ll have what it takes to take that fight. Thiago had a little run there but I don’t think that he can beat any of the top guys.
MMANews.com: How do you see your fight going with Luigi?
Diego Sanchez: I’m going to set the pace. I’m not going to give him any opportunity to strike. I’ll close the gap and create the scramble situation then take him down, finishing on top. I’ll pass his guard and mount him and either transition into a rear naked choke or just good old ground and pound.
MMANews.com: So just a little bit of everything then…
Diego Sanchez: That’s right.
MMANews.com: After your loss to Josh some questioned the intensity and desire that you once had coming out of TUF. Do you feel that it is still there?
Diego Sanchez: Yeah man. Just watch the last fight [laughs]. That fight proves that. I still had my intensity when I fought Koscheck but he was just playing a game, get in and out get in and out, work hard to get away. That was the game he chose to play that night and I just wanted ready to shut it down.
MMANews.com: With a win against Luigi where do you see yourself going next within the division?
Diego Sanchez: I guess all that depends on what happens in other fighters. If Thiago pulls out the upset than maybe they’ll give me him but I seriously doubt that he will be able to do it. Koscheck is fighting Lytle but who knows what will happen in that fight. We’ll see what happens. It’s all what the UFC thinks and what they think is right. It will also depend on how I look against Luigi.
MMANews.com: How many times do you see yourself fighting before years end?
Diego Sanchez: I’d like to fight at least one more time. Hopefully at the end of the year.
MMANews.com: What do you like to do on your free time when you aren’t focused on training?
Diego Sanchez: In the winter time I’ll snowboard and in the summer time I’ll chill and surf or train [laughs]. I like spending time with my girlfriend so whenever I get to spend time with her it’s great because I love her. We’ll watch a movie or hang out, go to dinner or go to the beach. Now that it’s summer I’d like to go home and visit and go to the beach.
MMANews.com: Do you get a chance to watch fights?
Diego Sanchez: I watch ALL the fights bro. I try not to miss any. I love them all. The only fights I don’t watch are The Ultimate Fighter fights. I even do my best to get my hands on the DREAM fights.
MMANews.com: Who are some of your training partners helping you prepare for the fight?
Diego Sanchez: My main training partner is Fabricio Morango, he just fought Joe Camacho at the last ShoXC. He’s a Brazilian fighter. Then Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields and Joe Hernadez will come down. Then I have other guys that help me train every different aspect of my game. I try to keep a lot of fresh guys around so that when I’m getting tired in training they are coming at me fresh.
MMANews.com: Kind of like running the gauntlet?
Diego Sanchez: Yeah man I get it done. All these guys help get me to the next level man.
MMANews.com: Alright Diego well I won’t keep you much longer here. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans before the fight?
Diego Sanchez: Just tune into SpikeTV for this one. I’m going to make this one a very exciting and I’m going to win and then I’m on the hunt for the title. Maybe I’ll fight St. Pierre if he wins, who knows. Maybe down the road…my dream fight is with BJ Penn at 170lbs so I hope that fight happens some day.
MMANews.com: Diego, I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today my friend. Good luck in your fight on June 21st.
Diego Sanchez: Thanks Chris.