UFC Releases ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 1 Winner Diego Sanchez

By Jay Pettry Apr 30, 2021

It is the end of an era for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as no more members of the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter” are on the roster.

Perennial contender and longtime fan-favorite Diego Sanchez (30-13) was booked against Donald Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 24, where “The Nightmare” was slated to have his retirement bout against a former training partner at welterweight. Sanchez unexpectedly withdrew from the bout on Wednesday with no explanation given, and he took to Instagram to air his grievances with the promotion. After a now-deleted Instagram Stories post where he claimed he was a free agent, the UFC confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Thursday night that Sanchez was indeed released, via a letter Sanchez was sent on April 27.

Sanchez posted a few videos on his Instagram account on Thursday showing disagreements that his coach Joshua Fabia had with the commentary team, where Fabia believed that the organization was attempting to slight Sanchez with its coverage. Among his claims were that the UFC was aiming cameras at him to catch him and Sanchez in bad situations, or otherwise expose Fabia's unorthodox coaching style. Fabia’s infamous training sessions have been widely covered since Sanchez started working with him, including Fabia chasing his fighters around with a knife. Fabia, who claims he has “certifications in martial arts, personal training, several military fields, stretch training, breathing and more,” has never authenticated his training credentials.

The legendary Sanchez won the first season of TUF by tapping out Kenny Florian at middleweight. “The Nightmare” – once briefly known as “The Dream” – will end his UFC tenure with a record of 19-13, having fought for the lightweight crown against B.J. Penn in 2009. Winner of eight post-fight bonuses including one from a bout against Clay Guida that earned induction for both men into the UFC Hall of Fame, Sanchez leaves behind an over 16-year legacy with some of the better fights to take place in company history. The original TUF winner celebrates a litany of wins wins in his career, which includes names like Takanori Gomi, Nick Diaz, Jim Miller and the aforementioned Florian.

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