Analyzing UFC Fighter Diego Sanchez’s Mindset

Diego Sanchez has been a pro MMA fighter since 2002 and competing in the UFC since 2005.  

That’s a long, long time to be a pro MMA fighter, especially with the type of fighter he is and the kinds of battles he’s been a part of.


He’s definitely put on more than a few entertaining fights that I’ve had the privilege of watching.

He’s also always been lauded for being one of the most mentally tough fighters in the sport.

However, I read a recent interview with him that doesn’t leave me confident in the path he’s choosing nor his confidence.

First of all, he’s decided to drop weight classes, for a record fourth time, to compete in the 145 pound featherweight division.

I have nothing against moving down to a lower weight class if it’s a better fit for your height/weight/body type.

But what I really look out for is the reasoning behind the move and this is what he had to say was his:

“That’s where the sport has gone right now.Everybody is cutting weight. I see 155-pounders who are big. These guys are big. Even just seeing Nate Diaz in real life, he’s a guy, he’s big. He looks 180-190, maybe even 200 pounds. So for me, I’m like, well, I’m tired of being the small guy. I want to be the big guy. I want to be the guy with more power. I want to be the guy with better wrestling.”

I think it’s fine to want to be the big guy, but he doesn’t stop there.

He also talks about how he wants to be the guy with more power and better wrestling and based on this, he’s assuming that dropping to 145 pounds is how to go about getting these qualities.

Do you see the error in this line of thinking?

That he is not in control of his relative skill in these areas?

Unfortunately, this is a common mindset that a lot of fighters have – drop down in weight and instantly you’re going to be a beast and so far ahead of everyone else in every area.

But this is NOT reality, nor is it where the sport is going right now.

Just look at guys like Anthony Johnson who see the error in trying to cut too much and instead fight at a natural weight and then go and rack up dominating wins with devastating knockouts.

These examples refute Sanchez’s generalization.

And it doesn’t end there, folks.

And I was like, wow, look at this guy, he’s holding a huge size advantage going into all of his fights. He has the reach. He has the leverage. It just made sense.”

This just goes to show that Sanchez mentions size advantage, reach and leverage as the reasons why Conor McGregor is successful and fails to acknowledge strategy, skill, fitness and confidence, as important factors in his performance.

Here’s why this is most telling about Sanchez’s mindset…

The things that he’s choosing to see as the most important factors are largely those things that have the least leeway in terms of adaptability, while the things he fails to acknowledge are those most trainable.

This is the ultimate error – focusing on the things you cannot change, while neglecting those you can.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I am not religious.

But there’s a lot of wisdom in this simple prayer.



P.S. Thoughts or comments? Leave them below.

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5 years ago

these ufc guys are desperate now with the reebok deal and the crackdown on PEDS Diego is a true gladiator and whatever he does i would support him rather than analyze his logic..The dude is hannibal lacter once he gets in the cage..

LaTeef Williams
LaTeef Williams
5 years ago

True statement Eric. I’m a light heavyweight pro fighter myself. I walk around at 225lbs, in fight shape I’m at 215 and have been urged to fight at middleweight several times! I think its way too much of a strain on the body to lose anymore than 10lbs of anything but water weight for a fight. The much growing trend is “lose a few fights, drop a weight class”. But bigger isn’t always better.

5 years ago

In addition to the strain on the body – when the main focus of the camp is making weight, it takes away what the real focus should be, which is training to win.

5 years ago

Very profound Eric. Do you think this guy is happy within himself? I don’t think so.

5 years ago
Reply to  Steven

He’s definitely not happy losing, which is fueling this, unfortunately, IMO, his thought process is flawed.

5 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Hello Eric,

In my opinion, Diego’s lack of effectiveness has nothing to do with being the bigger or smaller guy , (at least in the lightweight division) it has more so to do with his particular style of fighting that is doing wrong. If he was smart and more tactical and stopped getting into all out brawls, then he would have a much better chance of getting a title shot if that is his goal.

But the way he fights, he will never get it unless Dana gives it to him.