Diego Sanchez is coming off one of his most memorable performances to date, and it looks like the UFC plans on keeping him around for quite a while.
"The Dream" is fresh off his epic battle with former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez at UFC 166 in October. The two Mexican-American fighters engaged in a 15-minute war, where both put everything they had on the line in a fight that is easily one of the top candidates for "Fight of the Year" honors.
While "El Nino" took the unanimous-decision victory, Sanchez had nothing to hang his head about after the fight. UFC president Dana White flooded The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner with praise in the aftermath of the tilt, as Sanchez once again put his unique brand of grit and determination on display in Houston.
Immediately following his fight with the Skrap Pack leader, the New Mexico native went on the offensive, calling out fighters on Twitter and engaging in an action-packed tiff on social media with upstart featherweight Conor McGregor. While no opponent has been named for Sanchez's next showing inside the Octagon, a new contract from the UFC guarantees he'll have plenty of time to settle a few of his grudges.
As announced on Wednesday's edition of UFC Tonight, the 31-year-old Jackson's MMA-trained fighter has signed a new multi-fight contract with the organization. In addition to the news of his new deal with the promotion, it was also announced that he is aiming to make his return at UFC 171 when the UFC touches down in Dallas on March 15.
While Sanchez has been trading barbs with the brash Irishman, several obstacles in their respective paths will make that scrap unlikely for the former title contender's next outing. In addition to competing in a different weight class, McGregor is coming off knee surgery and has no set return date. He is also a shoo-in for when the UFC makes its debut in Dublin next year, and that would all but eliminate Sanchez from the equation.
One fight he's asked for that may come to fruition is a bout with former title contender Nate Diaz. Sanchez defeated his older brother Nick at The Ultimate Fighter 2 finale back in 2005 and has said he wants to be the first man to defeat both Diaz brothers in the UFC. With the Stockton representative coming off a big win over Gray Maynard last month at The Ultimate Fighter 18 finale, he could very well be in a position to face the gritty veteran.