The middleweight tournament winner on the first-ever The Ultimate Fighter has been released by the UFC amid a bizarre set of circumstances.
Diego Sanchez was released Tuesday and his May 8th fight against fellow veteran Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone was canceled. That news broke Thursday as Yahoo's Kevin Iole first reported on the situation behind the scenes.
Dana White told Iole that Sanchez's manager/trainer Joshua Fabia is "batsh*t nuts" and cited several incidents including Fabia telling UFC production and commentators how to call his fights and that he told a Nevada Athletic commission rep he taught Sanchez techniques that could kill or paralyze Michael Chiesa ahead of their July 2019 fight.
Sanchez posted videos Thursday of the aforementioned production meeting from UFC 253 on Instagram. Part one shows him answering basic questions and why Stephan Bonnar was in his corner for his fight with Jake Matthews.
That extends to part two when Fabia comes in and starts instructing Jon Anik, Megan Olivi, Paul Felder and others on "cutting the bullsh*t" on the commentating, "no low blows" or anything about how he's hurting his legacy. Fabia instructs them to talk to him instead of Sanchez as he has the answers and how he is getting "sh*t" from millions of people because of how people are talking about him.
Iole also reported several UFC personnel told him there were concerns "that Fabia was handling Sanchez’s social media and was controlling his telephone and his email accounts." Sanchez posted he was "free at last" on Instagram. Fabia first coached Sanchez prior to the Chiesa fight which Chiesa won handily by unanimous decision.
Despite him being cleared to fight against Cerrone, Fabia had asked UFC medical personnel for all of the fighter's medical records dating back to 2004. After UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell spoke to both Sanchez and Fabia, there was increased concern the fighter may be experiencing both short-term and long-term medical issues.
According to Iole's report, Sanchez was unable to confirm he was healthy despite being cleared because he wasn't a neurologist and hadn’t seen one. The UFC then made the decision to release him.
Iole confirmed Sanchez was paid his show, win, and Venum athlete outfit bonuses, totalling $211,000. Including this fight, he had three fights remaining on his contract and wasn't sure if he would continue if he had fought out the contract. He also is releasing an interview with Sanchez and Fabia Friday.
Sanchez (30-13) debuted in the Octagon in the TUF 1 finale, defeating Kenny Florian by first round TKO in April 2005. He would spend 16 years in the promotion, fighting at feathweight, lightweight and welterweight. He competed for a title once, losing to BJ Penn at UFC 107 in December 2009 in a bloodbath of a fight.
He leaves with the UFC with key wins over Nick Diaz, Clay Guida, Florian, Martin Kampmann, Takanori Gomi and Jim Miller with key losses to Jon Fitch, Joe Lauzon, Matt Brown, Gilbert Melendez, Penn, Jake Ellenberger and Josh Koscheck.