UFC Hall of Fame member and winner of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter Diego Sanchez was released by the UFC and continues to air his grievances with the fight promotion publicly.
The 39-year old Sanchez was scheduled to face former teammate Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the UFC Vegas 26 co-main event on May 8, but was suddenly removed from the bout by UFC matchmakers and let go by the organization.
Sanchez has released two lengthy videos from UFC 253 event week in Abu Dhabi from last September. He’s leaked audio of a phone message left for him by UFC Lawyer Hunter Campbell. “The Nightmare” recently posted a video to Instagram where he responded to being released by the UFC, gave a timeline of events and accused the company of trying to bully him.
“I’m here just to state some of the facts,” the Instagram video begins. “I’ve had a long career with the UFC and as I’ve fought all these fights, chased this dream of being a UFC champion – I just feel like here, at the end of the road, I knew the end was coming, and I did everything in my power in this preparation for Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. I put a lot of time and energy into even getting the fight with Cowboy, getting the fight with another legend, and the legacy that is Diego Sandhez fighting in the UFC. At the end of my camp when I was in top form, feeling my best, in the best shape, down at American Top Team competing with some of the best mixed martial artists all around the world, traveling and putting in the work, and I did it. I was ready to compete. I was ready to fight. I was 100 percent healthy.”
Sanchez then gave his account of when the fight with Cerrone and his spot on the UFC roster started to unravel.
“In the final 12 days leading to the fight, I got a text message from Sean Shelby (UFC matchmaker), and it was a message saying, ‘Diego, you need to check your email because Hunter (Campbell) sent you an email and it’s extremely important that you read this email and respond to this email by tomorrow or the fight is going to be cancelled,” said Sanchez.
“Right away I was like, oh sh**. The fight is going to get cancelled. They’re going to pull the fight. What do I do? I talked to my people and I replied the best way I could reply to Hunter’s email, and that’s with my lawyer’s advice. With my lawyer’s advice, I replied the best I could. The UFC wanted me to state that I am not experiencing any neurological issues and that I have no long term health side-effects from fighting a career of 17 years in the UFC. Basically, my advisors told me, basically what they’re trying to do is, right before you finish your last fight, they’re trying to just make sure they have documentation of you saying that you never sustained anything, so basically you’re being forced, being bullied into waiving your medical rights, possible medical liabilities,” he explained.
Sanchez was paid in full for the fight even though it was cancelled, including sponsorship money and as if he won the bout.
“With that being said, the email was sent to Hunter, and the response was very fast. And the response was from Hunter, and Sean, and Dana (White), but only Hunter Cambell’s signature was on the letter. Only his name was on the letter, and the letter said that they have chosen to pay me 100 percent for the fight, the show money, the win money, and the sponsorship money due to me traveling and completing the training camp that I did for this camp. With that, the fight is to be cancelled. And why? The only thing that was on the email was, ‘due to your last loss at Abu Dhabi vs. Jake Matthews.’ No explanation other than that. So this seems like a lot of bullshit to me,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez questioned the UFC’s motivation while admitting that his manage requested all of his medical records that the UFC has on file. That request is what prompted the email from Campbell.
“Why send me a letter, and email, when I’ve already passed all my medicals? I’ve had extra medicals done due to my age. I had the MRI, the MRA, the EKG, the physical, the x-rays. I had all the imaging done. I had all the neurological that was demanded by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC for me to be cleared to compete,” he said.
“If Dana White won’t take my calls now, won’t have a meeting now, once I’m done and I’m out of the UFC, do you think I’m going to be able to get a hold of anybody? Do you think anything is going to go through? No. Nothing is going to go through. I’m never going to get shit from them. So yeah, before, at the end of my career, me and my manager decided now is the time to get what we can get because they’re probably not going to give you shit after you’re released.”