Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Diego Sanchez

2017 was a rough year for Diego Sanchez. In April, he was knocked out the first time in his career by Al Iaquinta. And just a few weeks out from his next fight against Matt Brown in November, a new recruit at Jackson Wink sucker-punched him in a fit of rage during sparring.

Sanchez suffered a cut to his nose. But more worrisome, he also had a suspected concussion. “I felt a little cognitive decline; I felt my short-term memory was a little off,” Sanchez admitted to Bleacher Report.

Fears of suffering a traumatic brain injury crossed his mind. This was particularly true given all the wars he’d been in over the years. But at the same time, Christmas was fast approaching and he had a family to provide for. So he didn’t pull out of his next fight. In hindsight, that was a big mistake. Brown would go on to knock him out with a standing elbow in the first round. Sanchez has since vowed to take his brain health more seriously, including cutting way back on sparring sessions. He’s gone 2-1 in the Octagon in the two years since without suffering another loss due to strikes.

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