Diego Sanchez did not get to go out of the UFC on his own terms, but he is just happy to be out.
Less than 24 hours after it was revealed that Diego Sanchez was out of his “farewell bout” against Donald Cerrone planned for next weekend, we now are just bidding farewell to both the bout and Sanchez’s long-tenured UFC run. After Sanchez hinted at his release from the UFC by channeling his inner Martin Luther King Jr. by proclaiming that he was “free at last” in an Instagram story, MMA News has confirmed that Sanchez and the UFC have officially severed their 16-year relationship.
As the original Ultimate Fighter who went on to make good on his initial contract by lasting over a decade and a half in the promotion, Diego Sanchez is certainly a future UFC Hall of Famer. UFC fans have truly watched Sanchez grow up right before their very eyes, beginning with his TUF run at only 23 years old. Since winning the first season of TUF, Sanchez went on to claim a whopping seven Fight of the Night bonuses in his gritty career. He also holds wins over names like Nick Diaz, Kenny Florian, Clay Guida, Takanori Gomi, and so many others.
As much as Sanchez was able to achieve in his career, his dream was to someday become UFC champion. At the end of last year, though, all he wanted was to be able to have a fitting finale in the company he has called home for so long.
“I’ve let go of the dream of becoming a UFC champion that I held in my heart my whole life,” Sanchez said last year. “I just want an OG fight. I want an OG that’s already come from wins and losses and had experience. Experience, that’s it. That’s the untold story of the warrior of the UFC. And I’m the one that’s ending this book, because I was the one who started this sh*t when the UFC was $40 million in debt and The Ultimate Fighter was an explosion.”
The UFC accommodated Sanchez by booking him in an “OG fight” against Donald Cerrone that was scheduled for May 8, but after Sanchez withdrew from the bout, that segued into the unceremonious end of the legend’s run in the company.
Diego Sanchez is currently 36 years of age, and he was sure to let multiple major promotions know that his services are available in his Instagram story announcing his freedom. So while we have seen the last of Sanchez in the UFC, his unique and lengthy story in this sport is not finished just yet.
What would you like to see next for Diego Sanchez after his UFC exit?