Diego Sanchez leaves longtime gym Jackson-Wink after getting “no love”

Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez has cut ties with his former training home, Jackson-Wink MMA after not receiving the training he requires.

Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico is considered one of the top MMA training centres in the world and has been the training home of many exceptional fighters. Diego Sanchez is no exception and has been a flag bearer of the company throughout his career. However, the time has come for Sanchez to step away and explore other avenues to develop his training.

Leaving Jackson-Wink MMA

Diego Sanchez (29-11), who is currently preparing for his next fight against Michael Chiesa (15-4) next week at UFC 239, revealed that lack of skill development and attentiveness is the reason he has decided to part ways with Jackson-Wink MMA. During a UFC 239 press day, Diego Sanchez explained to MMA Junkie his reasons:

“This is a Diego Sanchez moment. I made a crucial decision. It’s three weeks before the fight. No more JW – Jackson-Wink, one of the best teams in the world. No. I’m going in with one trainer. I’m going in with one trainer. People are like, ‘Wow, what the hell, Diego? What are you thinking?’ Well, I’m not only thinking, I’m feeling. That’s a big part of who Diego Sanchez is: I don’t think too much. I don’t think it’s good to think too much. I think you’ve got to feel. You’ve got to feel this – your gut. You’ve got to feel this part right here that’s inside of you.”

That one trainer ‘The Nightmare’ talks about is Josh Fabia: a UFC coach who Sanchez trusts will guide him to a victory. Sanchez makes the change as he looks to improve his knowledge instead of staying stagnant.

“All I know is I wasn’t learning. I wasn’t growing as a mixed martial artist, that they were teaching me with the knowledge and information as trainers that they were doing. They were just basically going through the motions with Diego Sanchez,” said Sanchez.

Lack of Love from Jackson-Wink

Diego Sanchez felt his training wasn’t been prioritized at the level necessary and his credentials were not being taken seriously, despite being a loyal trainer at Jackson-Wink MMA for many years. He cites a ‘lack of love’ from the training camp:

“For this time in my career, there was no focus on Diego. There was no real love on Diego Sanchez. Maybe because we’ve got two belt fights, Jon (Jones) and Holly (Holm), but you know what? I don’t give a sh**. I don’t give a sh**. I’m Diego Sanchez. I am special. I’m a Hall of Famer.”

Diego Sanchez also said, “For the past three years, Diego Sanchez (has) really being doing the Bruce Lee type of style training: going in early, getting my thousands of reps in and training myself. Obviously, everyone knows my grappling credentials – getting some grappling classes in and grappling rolls in. Go get my rounds in with the young bucks and do my thing in the gym. But come fight time, you’d get a couple of mitt sessions with Winkeljohn, never really learning anything, just kind of tuning up what I already had. With Greg Jackson, it was maybe one or two privates a camp, but never really any true love – the type of love that a trainer should have for his fighter.”

Jackson-Wink conflict with other fighters

This is not the first time a veteran fighter has been vocal about leaving the gym. In recent years, Donald Cerrone called out the gym owners, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn for extreme mismanagement. A mounting conflict between both parties resulted in Cerrone leaving the gym and accusing Winkeljohn of driving the ‘place into the ground’ and turning it into a “puppy mill” that prioritizes money over loyalty.

Despite sharing a common disillusionment, Sanchez did not agree with the way Cerrone spoke of the training camp and still has a lot of respect for the company.

“Nothing but respect for Winkeljohn and Greg,” said Sanchez. “I love those guys. I am grateful and I express a huge amount of gratitude right now to both Mike Winkeljohn, to Greg Jackson, to Jackson’s MMA. Everything. All the way up. All the training partners that got in that room and helped me become the man that I am right now, I appreciate.”

Looking to the future

Since winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter Debut 1” in 2005, Diego Sanchez has had an extensive career within the UFC, fighting noteworthy contenders such as BJ Penn and Nick Diaz. With two consecutive wins on his back, he plans to make big moves and get to the top. As he leaves Jackson-Wink MMA behind, Sanchez looks to the future and takes back the driver’s seat in his MMA career.