The UFC 239 main card kicked off with Diego Sanchez taking on Michael Chiesa in a welterweight bout. It was a one-sided affair that saw Chiesa control Sanchez throughout the entire contest, cruising to a 30-26 unanimous decision victory. Being how noncompetitive the fight was and that Diego Sanchez is now in his late 30s with 17 years of fighting experience, naturally the retirement subject popped up after the loss. UFC President Dana White seemed blindsided by the topic, however, and does not see Sanchez as a fighter who is nearing retirement (Transcript via MMA Junkie):
“How old is Diego now, 37? This is one of those conversations where Diego is not getting viciously knocked out and everything else, but fighting is a young man’s game,” White said at the UFC 239 post-fight press conference. “Once you start to get older, Father Time is undefeated. It kicks all of our asses, especially professional athletes. I care about the kid. I love the kid, so we need to have a serious conversation about what’s next.”
One potential complication to Diego Sanchez’s UFC future is the fact that this was the last fight on his current UFC contract. But even though Sanchez underperformed at UFC 239, that does not alter his body of work nor the reputation he has among fans and brass alike:
“He doesn’t have to have a great performance because it’s the end of (his deal),” White said. “Diego Sanchez has helped build this sport just as much as (anyone). He’s one of ‘The Ultimate Fighter 1’ guys, which, you know how I feel about all of those guys. He’s in no risk or fear of anything. I’d do anything for Diego.”
“I love everything about Diego Sanchez,” White said. “When you talk about somebody who was put on this earth to fight, it’s what this kid was born to do. And you saw tonight, the way that he was treated by the fans. The fans love this guy.”
As for Sanchez being dominated by Chiesa, White accredits this more to Chiesa’s upside at welterweight than a sign that Sanchez should hang up his gloves:
“Chiesa is going to be scary at that weight,” White said. “He was huge. Huge. And every time Diego went to grapple with him, he couldn’t. He was overpowered and Chiesa fought a good fight. Fourteen years, 15 years this guy has been in the UFC. It’s amazing. It’s not like he got viciously knocked out. You know what I mean?”
Diego Sanchez has won two of his last three fights, with his last victory coming at the expense of Mickey Gall in March.
What do you believe should be next for Diego Sanchez?