In 2019, TUF 1 alum Diego Sanchez decided to part ways with his long-time team at the famed Jackson-Winkeljohn Academy in Albuquerque. The split happened right before his UFC 239 fight against Michael Chiesa in July of that year.
At the time, Sanchez’s reason for leaving was the lack of growth he felt he was experiencing at the gym. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, the 38-year-old fighter also said he was undervalued by his mentors.
“It’s ridiculous that you think that I poured thousands and thousands of dollars into that gym,” Sanchez said. “Not only the money — I always gave 10 percent of my purse. You look back, it’s out there how much I’ve made. I always gave 10 percent of my purse. It ain’t the money, it’s the love that I was given to those young fighters. The love, the time, the energy. The experiential wisdom that I have learned through failures and through my victories.
“I would pour my heart and my soul into these young men, because what else is there to do with yourself than to help others,” he added. “At the same time they didn’t appreciate me. They didn’t value me. They see me only as another weed in the grass.”
Sanchez has since been under the guidance of School of Self-Awareness founder Josh Fabia, whom he also refers to as his “guru.” And he couldn’t be any happier.
“I’m in a better place now, a better situation with true people who care about me and love me,” he said. “It is what it is. They’re over there. I’m over here. The line in the sand has been drawn. There’s nothing more to say about that.
“I’m getting real training. I’m getting real time,” he continued. “Real love. Real energy. A lot of people don’t truly know how amazing my trainer is, but the world is going to find out.”
Sanchez will make his 42nd walk to the Octagon this Saturday at UFC Rio Rancho against Michel Pereira.