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Is the Nightmare Over or Will He Reoccur?

Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez has been a fan favorite in the UFC for many years. He came into the promotion through the first season of the Ultimate Fighter and defeated Kenny Florian in the finale event. Sanchez was also undefeated for the first 17 fights of his pro career before he met Josh Koscheck in the cage. He fought for the lightweight title against a dominant BJ Penn due to a doctor stoppage after a head kick. 

A post shared by Diego Sanchez (@diegonightmaresanchezufc) on Jun 1, 2019 at 1:01pm PDT

For a period of time, fans thought that Diego Sanchez was on the way to retirement. His win/loss record throughout the past decade has been even with 8 wins and 8 losses including his fight for the lightweight title in 2009. Some of those wins and losses have come by decision in some of the most memorable fights in MMA. Within the same time frame, Sanchez has also earned 3 “Fight of the Night” bonus and a “Performance of the Night” award against Mickey Gall. But the Nightmare has yet to smell a title shot in the past decade. 

A post shared by Diego Sanchez (@diegonightmaresanchezufc) on Mar 19, 2019 at 4:58pm PDT

For most other fighters, his lack of wins and possibility for another title shot would have given a reason to terminate his contract with the UFC. But Sanchez is not a normal fighter. Sanchez’s heart and dedication to martial arts, in general, makes him a fan favorite. His fighting style consists of an aggressive offense with sometimes little defense in order to land as many power strikes as possible; in other words, an exciting fighting style that fans love to watch. The UFC as an organization also admires his veteran status and the fact that he puts on a show when he fights. The issues arise when talking about Sanchez’s longevity as a fighter. 

A post shared by Diego Sanchez (@diegonightmaresanchezufc) on Apr 22, 2019 at 9:31pm PDT

Diego Sanchez has a fighting style that can lead to long term damage on the body and head. Although he has the ability to give a high pace fight, he pays by taking a lot of damage himself. Some fights Sanchez takes blows that open the scar tissue where BJ Penn head kicked him during their lightweight title match. For an aging fighter, damage on the body can accumulate and cause long-term issues. With Sanchez being 37 years old, close observers have questions about how long his career will last with his guns-blazing form of fighting. 

A post shared by Diego Sanchez (@diegonightmaresanchezufc) on May 5, 2019 at 2:16am PDT

His opponent in the main card for UFC 239 is Michael Chiesa. Chiesa has wins over Beniel Dariush, Jim Miller and Carlos Condit with a reach advantage over Sanchez. Although Chiesa is famous for his technical ground game, Sanchez holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Roberto Tussa. Chiesa is a purple belt under James Weed. Of course, what makes this matchup so interesting is that Diego Sanchez has pressure and offense to challenge Chiesa’s calm demeanor and fight IQ. This fight might become the third part of a winning streak that many fans would love to see Sanchez have. ■

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