Diego Sanchez: This Time It’s Personal

Apr 4, 2007
This is the stuff that movies are made of. Two rivals pitted against each other in combat. The end result can only mean the demise and death of the lesser man … (insert evil laugh). Well maybe not that serious; but this is as serious as it gets as far as mixed martial arts goes.

This Saturday night Diego Sanchez (Pictures) (17-0) will put his unbeaten record on the line as he faces former training partner Josh Koscheck (Pictures) (8-1) at UFC 69.

In the fight game there is always going to be trash talk to hype a fight. This fight has almost reached the level of a Tupac-Notorious B.I.G showdown and Sanchez is not taking Koscheck's smack lightly.

"That just shows what kind of fighter he is," said Sanchez. "If he's thinking with that kind of mentality then obviously I don't know what the hell he's thinking."

Koscheck who fights out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. had been asking UFC president Dana White for a shot at Sanchez ever since he lost a razor thin decision on in the semifinals of the first The Ultimate Fighter on SpikeTV.

"Kos" is riding a four-fight win streak and was granted his wish. It was rumored that Koscheck said that he would pay matchmaker Joe Silva to make the fight happen.

Sanchez also asked Dana for this same fight. In a meeting with the UFC President he laid out his request.

"I just got the no go on Matt Hughes (Pictures), so the first person that came to mind was the only person talking a lot of shit about me and that's Josh Koscheck (Pictures)."

Greg Jackson, Sanchez's trainer, feels that Koscheck may have instigated the whole thing.

"Diego doesn't have any real animosity towards Koscheck," Jackson started. "It's Koscheck that has animosity towards Diego. Koscheck I think really feels like it's very personal for him. Diego's just out there having fun."

Jackson thinks that the whole turning point started when Koscheck lost to Sanchez on the show.

"It's hard for him because every time he wins a fight or something people remind him of how Diego beat him on the show," the trainer said of Koscheck.

Sanchez, a product of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said this is a good fight for him because it will prepare him for better opponents.

"It's a fun fight for me. Not only do his wrestling skills prepare me for Matt Hughes (Pictures) and Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) but it's a fight where I get to go in there and scrap."

While both were up and comers on TUF 1, both have become far better than they were two years ago.

Yet Sanchez believes that Koscheck may not think so.

"He's not analyzing it for what it really is," said the undefeated welterweight. "He thinks I peaked out and that I'm the same fighter that I was on the show."

After training with Oscar De La Hoya and getting the champ's personal stamp of approval, the "Nightmare" feels he has all the credit he needs.

"I wouldn't have world champion boxers vouching for me that I'm a future possible champ if I wasn't so progressed."

Not only is he a better fighter than he used to be, but Sanchez believes the difference between himself and his opponent isn't close.

"He is a competitor," Sanchez said of Koscheck. "His ideal is he wants to compete with Diego: ‘I want to be the first to beat Diego.'"

Sanchez then sat up straight and quickly changed his tone of voice.

"But my mentality is, I'm a warrior. I'm here to kill this guy. I'm here to put him to sleep. That's the difference between the two of us I'm an animal, he's not."

Fight fans know that styles make everything. Koscheck is a phenomenal wrestler who has won a NCAA Division I championship. Sanchez is known for his grappling and, after his last fight with Joe Riggs (Pictures), his hands.

The Jackson's submission fighter found it laughable that Koscheck would underestimate his stand-up ability. When asked if he thought Koscheck was going to stand and trade with him, Sanchez replied, "He says he is. I think he's out of his mind. I think that he's actually going to grow some balls and fight this time."

Sanchez wasted no time in giving his prediction.

"If he tries to stand with me then it's going to be a knockout, either a knockout or a TKO. My ultimate prediction is a submission. There are so many different submissions in jiu-jitsu and I feel that I can submit Josh Koscheck (Pictures) with anyone of them."

This fight has all the makings of a Hector vs. Achilles, Spartans vs. Persians, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Yankees vs. Red Sox. OK, you get the point: it should be a good one and after Saturday night we'll know for whom the Hollywood ending was written.
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