Diego Sanchez gives passionate response to retirement pleas from ‘keyboard warriors’

DALLAS – Diego Sanchez has no plans of hanging up his gloves any time soon. In fact, he’s calling UFC 228 the “rebirth” of his career.

Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC), who meets Craig White (14-8 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a welterweight bout on Saturday’s card, has been part of the UFC roster since April 2005. Throughout that time the Season 1 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series has fought for a UFC title, racked up 16 octagon victories and spent just short of 5.5 hours inside the cage.

On the flip side, however, Sanchez, 36, has lost three of his past four bouts (all knockouts) and has absorbed 1,168 total head strikes in his UFC career, the second most in company history behind B.J. Penn (1,358). That might have a fighter thinking about retirement, but for Sanchez, he said it’s the opposite.

“The thought of after fighting is not here in this mind the way it is in these other fighters,” Sanchez told MMAjunkie. “That’s why they’ve all came and gone, that’s why they’ve all opened up gyms and become businessman and gone on to other careers. In my mind that’s never been an option. Plan A was the only way. There wasn’t a Plan B because Plan A is the only way. My vision and my focus was Plan A. There may be a lot of distractions along the road. I have hit some distractions, and I have also hit some failures. There’s been some real bumps in the road.

“It’s not easy. It’s not easy to keep your dream alive. It’s not. There was a point where I even lost it. I said, ‘You know, maybe I can’t become UFC champion. Let’s be like ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone) and just fight as many fights as we can and make as much good money as we can while we can.’ But the fire in my heart, it never died for that UFC championship belt. It just died down.”

Sanchez still has aspirations of championship glory in his fighting career, and he said he’s not going to allow any outside noise to deter him. Specifically, those online who constantly plea for “The Nightmare” to walk away from active competition.

The social media comments telling Sanchez he’s taken too much damage and will pay for it later in life, should retire – or worse – haven’t gone unnoticed, he said. However, Sanchez said he doesn’t pay any mind to those comments, because he has an unwavering belief that he’s an outlier.

“I don’t care what the keyboard warriors of the world have to say,” Sanchez said. “‘Oh, he’s punch drunk and he’s brain dead and please retire.’ They say, ‘Please retire, Diego. Please retire.’ Because they want me to be average like them. They want me to fall into that textbook of normal, normalcy. That’s not me. I am the anomaly to that textbook. I am the way, way way, outside the box weird guy that’s freakin’ like an alien. ‘This guy’s an alien, he’s like The Iceman Wim Hof. At 52 years old running marathons in the desert without a drip of water. Breaking Guinness World Records.’ That’s the type of mindset that I’m on. I’m tapping into my primitive brain. I’m on some next-level mind, body, spirit.”

UFC 228 takes place at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Sanchez meets White on the early prelims on UFC Fight Pass prior to televised prelims on FX and the pay-per-view main card.

Although Sanchez speaks about his future with great confidence, the reality is he must win multiple fights before his name gets the slightest attachment to any UFC title picture. He’s sitting on just three victories in nine fights over the past five years, and with his 37th birthday just three months away, time is not his friend.

To Sanchez, though, that’s all just more outside noise.

“Right now at this point in my career, I feel and I know where I belong,” Sanchez said. “I don’t belong at 155. There’s a reason I did not win that belt against B.J. Penn. That was not my destiny to win that belt at UFC 107. Now is the time of the rebirth of Diego Sanchez. It seems like a real long shot because it is a long shot. It is like the Michael Bisping story, but it’s not the Michael Bisping story. It’s the Diego story. This long-shot story is a story that says, ‘I ain’t ever giving up.’ I’m not going to quit.

“I’m just still getting better. I’m getting better and better and better and better. The crazy thing is I’m so healthy right now. My mind is healthy, my body is healthy. I’m healthy all the way around, and I feel great. For this fighting stuff I’m just going to do what God put me here to do. I’m a warrior, I’m a fighter. No one knows how long they’ve live. No one knows what’s going to happen in their life, if they’re going to get cancer, if they’re going to get hit by a truck, or a train like Matt Hughes. No one knows when is the next day, but for me, I’m going to continue to do what I love and I’m living for this. I’m living for this dream that’s in my heart, and in the end it will be like a Michael Bisping story where God gets all the glory in the end.”

For more on UFC 228, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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