DALLAS – Diego Sanchez isn’t backing down from his defense of Jackson Wink MMA from former teammate and training partner Donald Cerrone.
One of the most popular storylines in MMA over the past week has been Cerrone’s (33-11 MMA, 20-8 UFC) official departure from the gym in Albuquerque, N.M., where he’s trained for so long and the negative comments “Cowboy” unleashed on his way out the door. Cerrone issued some unpleasant words for how the gym operates and targeted co-owner and noted striking coach Mike Winkeljohn for training his upcoming UFC Fight Night 139 opponent Mike Perry.
What irked Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC) most, though, is Cerrone’s claim that Jackson Wink MMA wrestling coach Chad Smith had peddled steroids to teenagers prior to joining the team. The longtime UFC welterweight, who meets Craig White (14-8 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on Saturday at UFC 228, said he had to come out in defense of the team that’s been his primary home for more than a decade.
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“It hurt to see ‘Cowboy’ trashing these guys that work so hard, and they put in the time in the sport,” Sanchez told MMAjunkie. “Gyms go through ups, gyms go through downs. It is a business. It’s about money. Winkeljohn has $40,000 a month he pays on overhead on our facility. So, there are decisions that have to be made. I was just more emotional because ‘Cowboy’ trash talked a really good man, my wrestling coach Chad Smith. He’s a really good dude. He never sold no steroids to no kids. And he’s lucky – ‘Cowboy’ is lucky that Chad is such a good dude, or else he would be suing him for defamation of character right now.”
Sanchez, 36, considers himself to be a particularly loyal person. So, when Cerrone opted to use his exit from the gym as an opportunity to air his grievances, that didn’t sit well with Sanchez.
The frustration within Sanchez toward Cerrone even boiled over the point that he said he would like a fight to happen in the future. Both Sanchez and Cerrone have upcoming fights of their own to focus on, but depending on the results, Sanchez said he can envision a scenario where their paths cross inside the octagon.
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Sanchez said he wished the situation didn’t reach the point it has, but “The Nightmare” is old fashioned, and if there’s a personal beef with another fighter, he knows the absolute best way to get it settled.
“I was pissed,” Sanchez said. “The old Buddakan wanted to come out like, ‘If I see this guy right now, it’s going down. That’s my coach.’ I told ‘Cowboy,’ I’m like, ‘Look bro, what if it was your coach and someone did that to you? How would you respond, bro?’ I go to war with these guys. These guys have been there when I freaking was knocked unconscious and they’re right there taking care of me with with love, with passion. Those are the type of guys that he’s talking (expletive) about. I wouldn’t have it. I had to say a few words, and if everything unfolds, you never know. We may be standing across the cage from each other.
“He’s fighting Mike Perry and he has to fight Mike Perry, but I know that’s a fight fans have always wanted, is me and ‘Cowboy.’ Say I win, he loses, it’s a big possibility that this fight could happen before the end of the year.”
Sanchez meets White on the UFC 228 early prelims, which stream on UFC Fight Pass from American Airlines Center in Dallas prior to the televised prelims on FX and the pay-per-view main card.
For more on UFC 228, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.