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Conor McGregor vs Diego Sanchez: Was the fight ever close to happening?

Diego Sanchez (L) and Conor McGregor (R)
Diego Sanchez (L) and Conor McGregor (R)
Anurag Mitra
Modified 12 Jan 2021, 15:15 IST

Former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor and fight game veteran Diego Sanchez had apparently verbally agreed to fight each other in 2020. The fight was also supposed to be the last scrap of Sanchez's storied career. However, the fight never came to fruition. Let's find out why.

Diego Sanchez and Conor McGregor go back a long way but the pair finally came close to meeting inside the octagon in 2020. However, it turned out that UFC president Dana White wasn't too interested in the matchup.

Ahead of his undercard bout at UFC 253 against Australian fighter Jake Matthews, Sanchez expressed the desire to pull the curtains on his pro-fighting career in a high-profile clash against Conor McGregor.

"I envision myself finishing my career with a fight with Conor McGregor. That’s my dream, that’s my vision. As I build my legacy and he does what he does, I’ll be waiting if he wants to do it at the end of the road.”

In response to Sanchez's statement, Conor McGregor shocked the MMA community by releasing private text messages from a conversation between him and Dana White regarding a potential fight against Diego Sanchez. It was clear from the screenshots of the messages that McGregor wanted to fight Sanchez but the boss wasn't keen on putting that fight together.

Dana White explains why he didn't like the Conor McGregor vs Diego Sanchez matchup

At the UFC 253 post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White blasted Conor McGregor for leaking their private conversations on the public domain. A visibly irate White accused McGregor of doing him dirty and said that the Irishman had broken the 'man code' by releasing the screenshots of their conversation online.

White further explained that he didn't find any sense in matching up Conor McGregor with an unranked opponent like Sanchez who is also way past his prime at 39 years of age.

“I mean everybody here knows, this is some man-code stuff but it’s just something you don’t do. It’s just something that you don’t do, it is one of the dirtiest things you can do[to leak private conversations]. Which, by the way, because we were just talking about Diego Sanchez. And Diego Sanchez was in there in this private conversation that I was having with Conor McGregor. When you are the number 2 or 3 ranked guy in the world, and you’re telling me that you want to fight unranked 39-year-old Diego Sanchez in the main event of Los Angeles. Well…”

Following Dana's comments, McGregor once again took to Twitter to issue a sharp response to White and the sections of media who criticized him for trying to pick easy opponents. McGregor reaffirmed his interest in fighting Sanchez down the line and hailed him as one of the true pioneers of the sport.

In a recent conversation with ESPN, White said that he was very upset with Conor McGregor for releasing the private conversations regarding a potential fight with Sanchez. White said that he had spoken to both Sanchez and McGregor after that incident and its water under the bridge.

"We were in a really bad place then[Conor McGregor and I], I was really upset. It wasn’t because he put out private messages. We were talking about another fighter. And I like Diego Sanchez. I have a lot of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. I talked to Diego face-to-face about it, and being the great human being he is, we’re all good. I was really upset with Conor, but we fixed that and now we’re all good.”

Conor McGregor is scheduled to return to the octagon to fight Dustin Poirier in the headliner of UFC 257 on January 23. The fight takes place at the Yas Islands in Abu Dhabi.

Published 12 Jan 2021, 15:15 IST
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