Diego Sanchez, one of the longest-tenured athletes in UFC history, is officially no longer with the promotion.
The UFC terminated Sanchez’s contract Tuesday, according to UFC president Dana White. Sanchez, 39, basically announced the split on Thursday, as he posted “Free at last” on his personal Instagram.
Sanchez was scheduled to face Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night on May 8, but that bout is now off.
According to White, Sanchez’s head coach, Joshua Fabia, recently requested every medical document the UFC has received during Sanchez’s 15-year career with the promotion in order to process his medicals for the fight against Cerrone.
In an ensuing investigation on the matter, White said, the UFC asked Fabia and Sanchez for full assurance there were no pressing medical issues regarding Sanchez’s short- or long-term health. On Sanchez’s behalf, an attorney informed the UFC the 39-year-old could not ensure his health was not compromised, as he is not a physician and has not recently undergone neurological evaluation. It was at this point that the UFC opted to cancel the fight and terminate Sanchez’s contract.
Sanchez (30-13) won the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, and he has 32 appearances under the UFC banner. His fight against Cerrone at UFC Fight Night on May 8 was expected to be his final bout in the promotion. The UFC is seeking a replacement opponent for Cerrone.
Fabia, Sanchez’s coach and manager, has been a polarizing figure in the UFC. In 2019, he reportedly warned the Nevada State Athletic Commission that he and Sanchez had been working on a specific choke that could either kill or paralyze opponent Michael Chiesa prior to their welterweight bout at UFC 239. Chiesa won the fight via decision.
This week, Sanchez released a video of Fabia arguing with UFC commentators over what he felt was disrespect toward Sanchez on a UFC broadcast. In 2020, video surfaced of Fabia using an unorthodox training session in which he chased after fighters with a knife at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
Requests for comment from Sanchez’s team were not immediately returned.
Sanchez won TUF 1 as a middleweight, and he eventually dropped to lightweight, where he unsuccessfully challenged BJ Penn for the lightweight title in 2009. He is a member of the UFC’s Hall of Fame for his classic, split-decision win over Clay Guida in June 2009.