The UFC has ended its relationship with Ultimate Fighter season one winner Diego Sanchez after concerns were raised over his health issues.
Sanchez posted “Free at last. Free at last” on Instagram on Thursday with the news confirmed by UFC president Dana White to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports that the fighter had been cut.
In the Yahoo story, Iole states that Sanchez’s coach Josh Fabia, a polarizing figure in MMA, requested all of Sanchez’s medical record going back to his start with the promotion. It led to the UFC’s chief business officer Hunter Campbell speaking with Fabia where the coach reportedly mentioned short and long-term medical issues involving Sanchez.
Sanchez had recently passed his medical tests for his upcoming fight on May 8th but was asked by the UFC if he was okay. Sanchez stated he was not a neurologist and therefore could not respond, this led to his release earlier this past Tuesday.
The Yahoo story adds that several in UFC believe Fabia is controlling Sanchez’s social media accounts along with his phone and email accounts. UFC president ripped Fabia in the Yahoo story:
I have an incredible, amazing relationship with Diego, and I like him very much, and I hope he is OK. One of the sad things that happens, not just in fighting but in sports, and I want you to quote me on this, are these creepy weirdos who come from God knows where and leech onto fighters or athletes. They never do any good for them.
Earlier this week, a video was posted of Fabia interrupting Sanchez’s fighter meeting with the UFC broadcast team and taking issue with the way Sanchez has been treated in the past by the broadcasters and their portrayal in the media.
Sanchez, 39, has been one of the most popular fighters in the UFC since winning the middleweight contract on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter. He fought thirty-two times for the UFC including legendary fights with Karo Parisyan, Clay Guida, Martin Kampmann, and Gilbert Melendez.
After suffering the first losses of his career in back-to-back fights in 2007 against Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, Sanchez went on his strongest run with four victories that led to a shot at UFC lightweight champion in BJ Penn in December 2009. Penn stopped Sanchez in the fifth round and sent Sanchez to compete at welterweight.
Sanchez earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honors in four of his next six fights and returned to lightweight in 2013. Sanchez went fought once at featherweight for a fight against Ricardo Lamas in November 2015.
He suffered back-to-back knockout losses to Al Iaquinta and Matt Brown in 2017 before going 3-2 in his previous five fights. Sanchez last fought in September 2020 losing by unanimous decision to Jake Matthews.