With 30 UFC fights to his name, Diego ‘The Nightmare’ Sanchez is one of the most long-tenured fighters in the history of the world’s biggest MMA promotion, but to anyone who has followed the native of Albuquerque, New Mexico over the past 15 years, his lengthy time with the UFC shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Sanchez is simply one of the most exciting and entertaining fighters in the young history of the sport, and the fact that he’s the only athlete in UFC history with three ‘Fight of the Year’ awards from the respected Wrestling Observer Newsletter backs that up. But ‘The Nightmare’ has had more than just 3 great fights – in fact, he’s had more great fights in the Octagon than perhaps any other fighter.
Here are Diego Sanchez’s 5 greatest ever fights.
#5 Martin Kampmann – UFC on Versus 3 – March 3rd, 2011
Following his failed UFC Lightweight title shot in 2009, Sanchez moved back to 170lbs at the beginning of 2010 and after getting back on track with a win over Paulo Thiago at UFC 121, he was matched against dangerous striker Martin ‘Hitman’ Kampmann in the main event of the UFC’s third show on the Versus network.
Sanchez seemed even more eccentric than ever before prior to the fight, changing his nickname from ‘The Nightmare’ to ‘The Dream’ and then entering the arena to the sounds of Los Lobos’ La Bamba, hardly a song worthy of an intimidating fighter. But when he entered the Octagon in Louisville, Kentucky, Sanchez fought like a man possessed.
The first round could hardly have gone much worse for Diego, who was picked apart by his Danish foe’s sharper, more accurate striking, and ‘The Dream’ even went down following an early straight right hand. But rather than change up his gameplan in the second round, Sanchez simply bit down on his mouthpiece and came out swinging for the fences, willing to take three punches to land a harder one.
To everyone’s surprise, the plan worked; Kampmann’s punches continued to make a bloody mess of Sanchez’s face, but ‘The Dream’ just kept on coming forward and his wild flurries made an impact, wobbling Kampmann on numerous occasions and leaving him covering up along the fence. It made for a brawl for the ages.
The third round followed the same pattern – with an incredible amount of action on view – and despite Sanchez looking like he’d been assaulted by a machete, he was awarded a unanimous decision by the judges. The result was controversial, with many fans feeling ‘Hitman’ had done enough to deserve the nod, but one thing that couldn’t be questioned was Sanchez’s heart and toughness – and his penchant for putting on classic fights inside the Octagon.