UFC welterweight Diego Sanchez is set to compete in New Mexico for the first time in six years — and this time, he won’t have any ties with Jackson-Wink.
Sanchez faces Michel Pereira in the co-main event of UFC Rio Rancho this weekend. Competing in his home state was naturally a major factor for Sanchez, but also the chance to showcase himself rather than his old gym.
“This will be a special fight for me,” Sanchez told MMA Fighting. “This will be the fight that showcases Diego Sanchez, not Jackson-Wink.”
Sanchez departed his longtime gym last year and is now working under new head coach Joshua Fabia. The former lightweight title challenger is far from the only fighter to leave the gym in recent years as he detailed what led to his exit including a lack of belief and appreciation towards him.
“You just need to understand, I was a man with no other option,” Sanchez said. “I had Jackson-Wink, I live here in Albuquerque. I have a daughter that’s here, so there was not another option for me. This was the best that I could get. … It’s not even about that. It’s about Greg Jackson and [Mike Winkeljohn] not believing in me. Not giving me the time and energy.
“It’s ridiculous that you think that I poured thousands and thousands of dollars into that gym. Not only the money — I always gave 10 percent of my purse. You look back, it’s out there how much I’ve made. I always gave 10 percent of my purse. It ain’t the money, it’s the love that I was given to those young fighters. The love, the time, the energy. The experiential wisdom that I have learned through failures and through my victories.
“I would pour my heart and my soul into these young men, because what else is there to do with yourself than to help others. At the same time they didn’t appreciate me. They didn’t value me. They see me only as another weed in the grass.”
Regardless, all of that is in the past as Sanchez claims to be in a better place now.
Victory over Pereira at home would put him right back in the win column, making it three in his last four outings as well.
What do you make of Sanchez’s comments?