TUF season 1 winner and UFC welterweight Diego Sanchez recently spoke with MMAWeekly Radio and shared some history about himself. In the conversation, Sanchez opened up on some intimate details of his life and expressed his thoughts and feelings on his recent happenings.
One of the subjects the Jackson’s MMA fighter touched on was his recent troubles with alcohol and living what he called a “rockstar life.” The rough patch of liquor and partying hit a high after Sanchez lost his attempt to win the lightweight title from B.J. Penn at UFC 107 near the end of 2009.
From that point, the fighter formally known as “Nightmare” found booze to be the way out of feeling sorry for himself after getting beaten so badly by “the Prodigy.” With money in the bank, stemming from his recent main event, it was easy for Sanchez to live it up, which ultimately hurt him and his ability to be productive.
“After I lost the B.J. Penn fight, I lost control. I lost control of life,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition. “I had just made my biggest payday and I was just down about the loss. That was my dream to become world champion, and it still is. But it was at my fingertips and the way I lost, getting cut, so brutally cut, I was beat up.
“I took the wrong path. I took the path of partying, and I was just drinking away my sorrows. I was handling the problem the wrong way.”
While surrounding himself with substances that altered his better judgement and capability to train effectively, Sanchez also ran with the wrong crowd. According to him, Diego didn’t keep a true manager around to handle his affairs, but instead had someone, whom he thought was a person he could trust, handle his money. Thinking that they’d look out for his better interests, Sanchez put his trust in this individual.
Unfortunately, Diego was tragically mistaken.
The person, whose name Sanchez did not mention, embezzled over $170,000 of the money he earned in the UFC Octagon. This was reality giving Sanchez a harsh slap in the face.
“I let some bad influences get into my life and it was a downward spiral. It was like a tornado sucking everything in,” he recalled. “I let a person that I thought was a friend, a real close friend, someone that would help me with finances, I had him helping me out with stuff. Turned out I got embezzled for over $170,000. He conned me. I got conned so bad. And in the same time when I got conned, I was just wasting the money that I had earned.”
Sanchez fled the California scene where all the madness was taking place and returned to the familiar surroundings of New Mexico. Back in the geographic vicinity of where he grew to be a fighter, Sanchez rearranged everything about how he was living and even moved to a rural area where he could focus on improving on himself.
Making this move let him realize that the way he was living was a lie.
“I knew I had to make that change,” he said. ” I moved out to the mountains, 30 minutes outside of Albuquerque. I just changed my whole life. I went from living a rockstar life, which I figured out was just a big lie. It was not true happiness, it sucked me in. It ate me apart.”
And in returning to his home, Sanchez also linked back up with the coach that helped him become the fighter he is today. Greg Jackson welcomed Diego back with open arms. Much like a close knit family, Jackson’s MMA was always there for Sanchez, no matter what his circumstances were.
“Greg Jackson always told me that if I ever wanted to come back, the door was always open,” Sanchez explained. “That gym was my gym. He said, ‘this is your house, no matter what. This will always be your house.'”
Reflecting on his past and all the trouble he got into, which included the occasional usage of marijuana, Sanchez opened his eyes to what was really going on. His potential was being severely held back because of the way he was operating on a daily basis.
“I was sucked into a life of sin,” he said. “I was smoking weed, I was drinking, partying, and it just really, truly held me back from my potential.”
Back in the positive surroundings of Albuquerque, Sanchez is reborn. No longer does he look to foreign forms of relief and comfort. No, he’s realized the error of his ways and is keeping all the negativity out of his everyday living. He’s even stopped using his Twitter account in an effort to focus on the importance of preparing for Matt Hughes at UFC 135.
Diego Sanchez, to put it as simply as possible, matured.
“You know what I did? I grew up,” Sanchez proclaimed. “I stopped living that little young life that I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and that’s how I want to do it. Now, I’m (living) a different life, a real adult life.”