“I went through a really rough situation in San Diego that brought me into a lot of emotional depression and that weighed hard on me, and the Penn fight was really hard for me the way I lost – getting cut up, getting hands put on me the way I did. That never happened to me in my career. So, I had to deal with that and when I came home I moved out of the city and I moved into the mountains and that was the best thing I ever did… I hit rock bottom after the Penn fight, I really did. I blew through all my money. I made bad decisions. Scam artists scammed me real bad. I was in debt over $175,000. I had to come back home. I needed my family’s love. I was humbled 100% back down to zero. I have no ego… I don’t want to represent [my “Nightmare” nickname]. I want to represent positivity and good…the nightmare was myself. All of the times I fell off track and got into drinking and into smoking weed…the things that brought me down, the partying. That was my nightmare, I was my own nightmare, so you know I said, ‘I’m growing up. I’m gonna let that name go and I just want to be Diego Sanchez. I’m me and that’s it.”

—Diego Sanchez on the UFC on Versus 3 conference call talking about hitting rock bottom after losing to BJ Penn at UFC 107

Diego went on to say that he was still in a rough place when he fought John Hathaway, didn’t take him seriously and that’s why he lost. It’s sometimes difficult to tell if a fighter is just throwing out excuses, but Diego didn’t look at all like himself when he fought Hathaway yet absolutely throttled Paulo Thiago five months later, so I’m rather inclined to believe him. He has a ways to go to get to the top of the welterweight division, but it seems he’s already taken the most important step in getting there.

Don’t expect to see Sanchez back in the lightweight division though. As he told reporters, “The options are closed for me to ever go down to 155 again.”

Image via for Sherdog