UFC fighter Diego Sanchez‘s run in the Octagon has been dotted with weight changes. Showing up on the original Ultimate Fighter and winning the season’s middleweight bracket, he quickly slimmed down to 170 pounds, going on to win five fights in a row including success against Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz. However, back-to-back losses and the increased likelihood of earning a title-shot at lightweight inspired Sanchez to drop down even further, fighting as a lightweight where he looked sharp until falling to then-champion B.J. Penn.
Sanchez immediately went back up to welterweight where he split his four fights, enjoying the ease in making the required mark but not the same success as his first run in the division. As a result, Sanchez came to the realization his body was best suited for lightweight and will return to the 155-pound pool this weekend at UFC on Fuel 8 where he’ll face Takanori Gomi.
Sanchez explained his decision in a conversation with the UFC’s website, saying there were a handful of factors motivating the move.
“One thing I remembered from when I was fighting at 155 was that there was so much less chance of injury. I don’t know if it was that I was lighter and training with lighter guys or if it was easier on the joints, but I just felt better at ‘55, so I made the decision. Coming into my prime at 31, I thought it was a better decision for my career to jump down to 155 at this point. And on top of that, there were really big guys coming down to 170 like Nate Marquardt, and those guys are monsters who are really big and they don’t gas out. They do the weight cut properly, so that’s what I’m trying to do – be the big guy at 155 and I’m gonna go in there and wreak some havoc in the division. I feel that it’s the most stacked division in MMA, especially with the Strikeforce guys coming over, so it’s very exciting.”
“I think MMA’s going through a transition and another evolution process where it’s coming down to height and reach and distance,” he said. “Guys are learning how to use their kicks and use their jab, and that distance is not like the old days when you fought a real tall guy. Back then you could just take them down. But now guys are learning how to wrestle and they know how to use their leverage, so I thought it was the best decision (to move down in weight), and I think with my previous history at 155, going down and getting two or three wins that I’ll be right there and knocking at the door for a title shot.”
“It’s like I’m going to battle. It’s the first fight my parents aren’t going to other than the ones that were on The Ultimate Fighter, so to me, this is like a warrior going on a mission to another country to go to battle, and I’m excited for it. I’ve done it all and gone through it all, and nothing really matters after they lock that door on you and you’re in that cage. It doesn’t matter where you are, it all goes away, and it comes down to your training and you, your heart, your mind, your soul, and what you have, and who wants it more. That’s what I’m excited for. Lock that door, say my name, and let me go get Gomi.”
PHOTO CREDIT: UFC