Diego Sanchez told officials he couldn’t continue after eating an illegal knee to the face at UFC Rio Rancho. The context behind ‘why?’ doesn’t matter.
With just under two minutes left in a 15-minute fight, Michel Pereira landed an illegal knee to the face of an already downed (and hurt) Diego Sanchez. This was a fight Pereira was dominating. A fight where he was visibly the much larger and stronger man. A fight where it seemed like he could have finished at almost anytime. Instead, he used his usual flash a pizzazz, looking to entertain and show off, ultimately resulting in an embarrassing self-induced loss.
After the knee landed the referee called in the doctor and both men began to inspect the 30-fight UFC veteran and come to a decision on his ability to continue. A decision that ultimately only the fighter could make. In these talks Sanchez could be heard asking ‘Is it a DQ (disqualification) if I can’t continue?’ and ‘Can you bring in my coach?’ After a bit more consideration Sanchez ultimately decided he can’t continue because he couldn’t see ‘due to the blood’ (there was no blood). Concluding the second DQ finish of the night and creating the sport’s most heated topic of the weekend.
‘Diego Sanchez knew what he was doing, he should be embarrassed!’, ‘He needs to go out on this shield, that’s not how you want to win a fight!’; ‘Diego Sanchez just quit! He needs to retire!’ These are a few of the reactionary tweets from Saturday night. An overwhelming bashing of Diego from fans and fighters alike. Accusing him of manipulating the system to get his victory and take the easy way out.
These statements are ridiculous and even if true, which can’t be proven unless Sanchez comes out publicly and says they are, don’t matter. Sanchez didn’t do anything wrong. Why should he have to risk his health and future health? In order to ‘do the right thing’ and appease the fighting morality police? Stop it. Since when is taking a valiant loss better than technical victory?
We forget that in the end, this is sport. If a basketball player commits a stupid foul to give two game-winning free throws, do we expect him to miss on purpose? If a football team throws a Hail Mary in football and the defense commits pass interference, allowing an easy game-winning field goal, should the kicker just shank it? Absolutely not.
Diego Sanchez is in the twilight of a very long and violent career. He doesn’t have to ‘do the right thing.’ Not when his career is on the line, not to mention the money. At UFC 239 it was reported by MMAJunkie that Sanchez made just north of 100k in his loss to Michael Chiesa and just under that 100k mark just to show when he beat Mickey Gall at UFC 235, which netted him an additional 93k. Would you do the ‘right thing’ with six figures on the line? Not to mention potential future earnings?
If Diego Sanchez would have gone unconscious like his fellow DQ victor Brok Weaver did earlier in the night this wouldn’t be a conversation. The strikes were similar, the result was the same, the only difference was Sanchez remained conscious. No one had a problem with Weaver’s victory. Nor should they.
Pereira is the one who broke the rules and (un)intentionally threw the illegal strike that ended the fight. Intention shouldn’t matter. Post-fight night everyone wants to talk about what Diego should have done when in actuality it’s what Pereira should have done. Which was go for the finish earlier in the fight when he had Sanchez hurt, or at the very least, not throw an illegal knee to a downed opponent.
Sanchez now gets to try and go on a two-fight win streak and continue his always entertaining career. Diego Sanchez was absolutely right and if you think otherwise it really doesn’t matter. His name has never been hotter.