Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. The ground breaking work turned out by the MMA Press Room on astroturfing in mixed martial arts is continuing to reverberate throughout the combat sports community as news of UFC Hall of Famer Diego Sanchez’s release from the promotion has sparked widespread discussion throughtout the industry over the use of astroturfing campaigns in the corporate sports world. A topic exclusively covered by the MMA Press Room in 2020; astroturfing is a common methodology employed by partisan entities in an effort to socially engineer and market a particular perspective, narrative or idea to the general public.
“I’m fearful man, I’m fearful for my motherfucking life,” admits former UFC welterweight Diego Sanchez in his May 4th, 2021 Hooks In With Anthony Smith & Laura Sanko YouTube video titled, “Diego Sanchez talks UFC release on SiriusXM’s MMA Today – Full Interview.” According to Sanchez, “I’m fearful that this company, this billion-dollar monopoly company worldwide is going to come after me. Something might happen to me in two years, maybe in a couple years. Maybe something happens, made my truck fall, maybe I wreck my truck. Maybe something happened, maybe I, "Oh, Diego overdosed on some suicide shit." I don’t know, but I would not put anything past the level of evil that is within this corporation."
“What?" asked SiriusXM's RJ Clifford. "Why would they do that to you? Why would they try to off you?"
“Why would they do that to me?” asks Sanchez. “Well, because if I was to expose some of the stuff that I know about. That because I’ve been in this motherfucker longer than anybody else and been the only one that survives the bitch. That went through the motherfucking dark tunnel and came out the other side. You know, like I’m still here. I’m still able to speak to you guys. Thank God for that. And that’s also thanks to Joshua Fabia helping me.
“He mentored and coached me in speech," explains Sanchez. "He mentored and coached me in father, how to be a better father. How to (do) so many other things. It’s not, and no, we’re not gay. Ariel Helwani pushed that narrative. That was part of Ariel’s narrative," Sanchez explains. "Put the little picture up. And the brazers. No, we’re not gay.
“He’s been the best friend that came into my life," explains Sanchez. "Helped me get my shit together because he saw a man that was traumatized emotionally, physically, mentally in so many ways that people don’t understand. Yeah, I kept it in the dark for my ego. For my glorification. So that I could be this great man.
“And the truth of it is man, it isn’t what, nothing is what you think it is," admits Sanchez. "Not my career, not my life, not UFC and what’s going on. But, in the end, yeah. I didn’t get my fucking final fight. I didn’t get my retirement fight against another legend. I was ready, I was prepared. I put in a 100-days of training camp. I did everything disciplined. I didn’t have a drink. I didn’t have a smoke. I was ready to step in there and put it all on the line. Why? So that I could speak my truths and be heard.
“Not be silenced. Like they are trying to silence me and Joshua with the narrative, with the push. With the power of four, YouTube, Google, Instagram. You don’t think UFC is in the pocket of Instagram? You remember going to the athlete center when we first talked?" asks Sanchez. "They pushed us, they pushed Instagram on us.
"Before, when Instagram was still real. Before, you always use to get the messages. Now we get the messages, ‘Oh, we’ll give you 20,000 followers for five grand.' I know you guys; I know the athletes got the messages,” recalls Sanchez.
“But how do they do this?” Sanchez asked rhetorically. “Because they got fake profiles. And they’re in control of these fake profiles, so you could do whatever you want. And now…now that it’s gotten so big, it’s a paid system. And so, me exposing that...that’s not good for me."
Later, the SiriusXM host went on to ask the 19-year MMA veteran, “Just so I’m clear Diego, you think Instagram is making fake bot accounts to bring down your coach?”
“I don’t think, I know," Sanchez explains. "This is a fact, bro. How do you think they can give you 20,000? How do you think they can give you a million followers? All you need to do is have a little money - that’s it. You see all these people out there, they ain’t real celebrities. There’s a bunch of people out there, they ain’t real celebrities. But hey, you could live in the illusion and pretend you’re a celebrity. Oh, you got a 100 followers? You got 100,000 followers? Oh, but you’re just an average Joe. But you got a 100,000 followers. Because you paid for those 100,000 followers," explains Sanchez. "This is not bullshit man.”
“No, no,” interjects Clifford. “I know that’s a thing, I know you can buy fake followers. But I’m just curious why you think Instagram has it out for..." asks the SiriusXM host before being interrupted.
“You can buy a 100,000 followers and you think it’s that that they can’t develop a computer system to where they are going to put whatever fake comments, wherever they want to wherever they want?" argues Sanchez. "And I have people messaging me saying, ‘I’m trying to put positive comments on this, but they will only allow negative.’ This shit is real man.
“This is the real revenge of the nerd’s computer shit, man. This is 2021. This shit is going down. It is real.
“And I’m going to tell you guys right now, man. I’m going to tell everybody,” continues Sanchez. “I’m going to say this to Dana White. ‘Dana. What’s up, Dana? What’s up, Dana? Man, I’ve tried for two years to get a meeting with you. Oh, shit. I was the first Ultimate Fighter; didn’t that show do something for the company? When it was $60-million dollars in debt? Oh, oh. All of those fight of the nights. All that TV time. Spike TV, Fox TV, all of those, ESPN. All of them. And you can’t meet with your boy?
“And I’m there in Vegas training. I’m going to Vegas and I’m training there. Weeks on, weeks on and weeks. I’ve put 60, 70 hours in the UFC PI just to get a meeting with you, Dana. Just to try to meet you and coffee. And you won’t meet with me?" asks Sanchez. "Because you don’t want to hear what I have to say? You don’t want to talk to me? You don’t want to talk to my bat shit crazy manager? Why? Because he might bring some light, he might bring some awareness to what you’re hiding in the dark?
“I’m still open to meet with you, Dana. Be a fucking a man,” pleads Sanchez. “Be a real fucking boss. When I’ve bled, I’ve sweat, I’ve fucking cried. I’ve fucking cried for this fucking company. I’ve fucking sacrificed more than you will ever know and you can’t fucking have a... 45-minutes to meet with me? Oh, but you’ll meet with Clay Guida. You’ll meet with Clay Guida and you’ll post that shit up."
“But little ‘ol, little ‘ol brown boy from New Mexico? Who was supposed to be knocked the fuck out on the Ultimate Fighter and you have to switch the agenda and make me fight my own teammate, Josh Koscheck? You had to flip the fucking narrative because I’m fucking it up. Because I’m in there and I’m winning fights I’m not supposed to win. And I’ve done this my whole career,” explains Sanchez.
“I was supposed to be chewed up, swallowed and shit out a long fucking time ago, And believe me, I’ve fucked up a lot of bets. I’ve fucked up a lot of bets," explains Sanchez. "There is a lot of money. And everybody knows Dana got a betting problem.
“Oh, I saw they posted, ‘Oh, he always wins on the Blackjack table.' That the Palms had to, had to kick him out because he wins so much. Well, I know you ain’t winning on everything and I know you’ve got a gambling problem," explains Sanchez. "And this shit does get deep.
“So, if you want to meet Dana, I’m just saying. Be a fucking man, find me out. Put me in an Airbnb like you put Michael Chiesa in an Airbnb before he fought me. You know, why don’t you take care of a real OG for once?” asks Sanchez before essentially being cut off by the SiriusXM host.
From innuendos of impropriety and corruption to attempting to explain to the naïve at heart the cold, hard realities of the combat sports entertainment industry, the Diego Sanchez interview with the SiriusXM MMA Today crew proved to be a riveting success as the battle tested warrior effectively relayed his message to the audience while setting the record straight on a number of topics pertinent to mixed martial arts. At times emotional but as real as it gets, it’s clear Sanchez is prepared to play hardball with the UFC in openly discussing the organizations astroturfing campaigns against both Joshua and others who have unfortunately managed to cross the promotional line. Because sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.