Diego Sanchez has become a hot topic of conversation recently, but MMA analyst Chael Sonnen has the welterweight’s back.
In 2019, “The Nightmare” announced he would be leaving his training home of JacksonWink MMA to try an unorthodox training approach with self-awareness coach Joshua Fabia. His new training strategy was once again put to the test when Sanchez faced Michel Pereira at UFC Rio Rancho this month. By all accounts, his opponent was leading the fight before delivering a clear illegal knee to Sanchez in the third round. Sanchez had the option to continue the fight, but he decided to refrain and ultimately claimed the disqualification victory.
The 38-year-old received backlash for the DQ win, but insists he made a “smart, veteran move,” that prevented him from enduring any unnecessary damage.
The former fighter and MMA analyst Chael Sonnen supports the fighter’s decision and believes the backlash as “completely unfair.”
“We are in a combat sport that has very, very limited rules,” Sonnen said on ESPN. “The rules that are limited including kneeing a downed opponent in the head, is invoked by a point taken away, by an illegal tactic, by the option to stop the match in its entirety as we saw right here [Sanchez vs Pereira].
“They’re in a place because this is such a vicious and nasty thing to do to somebody. There’s not very many rules that we do have. Look, if Diego was hurt — and he was hurt — for him to use that mechanism that is built-in, is a very smart thing to do.”
Both podcast host Ariel Helwani and Chael Sonnen agree that Sanchez was unfairly disrespected for a completely justified decision. They believe the criticism should instead be directed to Pereira for the illegal move, and that Sanchez should not feel pressured to continue to fight at the expense of his opponent’s mistake.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/20/2020.