Last night was a long one for Diego Sanchez.
The winner of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter made his return to the welterweight division against a young and rising fighter in John Hathaway. The definitive crowd favorite, Sanchez entered the octagon with, what seemed like, the entire MGM Grand Garden Arena cheering him on in support.
Unfortunately for him, the backing of an entire attending fan base wasn't enough for "Nightmare" to translate his routine chants of "YES" to a win in the octagon.
Sanchez was, at one time, the owner of a 17-0 mixed martial arts record and considered a top contender to the 170 pound title.
Since that time, Sanchez has gone 4-4 in his last eight bouts and lost two in a row.
When asked about Sanchez and what fans should look forward to, UFC president Dana White said, "It's interesting. You know, he's been in this position before too."
The last time Sanchez was the loser of two straight fights, he went back down the ladder and clawed his way back to contention with a couple of welterweight bouts then inexplicably dropped to 155 pounds only to meet a road block named BJ Penn.
The loss to Penn shot Sanchez back up a weight class.
Coming into his fight on Saturday night, Sanchez was as intense as he usually is. If you're not familiar with how amped Diego gets before a fight, use this equation: 5 hour energy drink x 5 + sugar + angry face = Diego Sanchez.
Regardless of the intensity, Sanchez was unsuccessful in attempting to take down his English opponent and was outmatched in all aspects of the fight. So out matched was Sanchez, Dana White made it very clear what he thinks the former collegiate wrestler should have done with his MMA career.
"I'm not his manager...but, I think he should stay at 55," said White following the post fight press conference. "Listen, his loss to BJ Penn doesn't mean you go back up to 170. It means you stay at 55 and, you know, you do what Kenny Florian did. You stay in there and you keep grinding it out and...keep beating the top guys and you get back in line and...work your way back to the top again."
White did not speculate who Sanchez's next opponent will be and it is highly unlikely The Ultimate Fighter winner would be given the chop or let go from the organization. "The Nightmare's" marketability is still intact and a future UFC bout should be on the horizon.
A few lightweight names that come to mind as potential opponents are Dan Lauzon (who also lossed at UFC 114) and Sam Stout.
Sanchez's next opponent will be, of course, up to UFC match maker Joe Silva so fans will have to wait it out and see what division he competes in next.
One thing is known for sure: Dana White would like to see a drop back to lightweight for Sanchez. It becomes plainly obvious when the UFC president says, "Diego does not look good at 170."