UFC: Cowboy Cerrone Named As Opponent in Diego Sanchez’s Retirement Fight

Donald Cerrone UFC 246
Donald Cerrone, UFC 246 Weigh-In Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Cowboy Cerrone’s next ride will be Diego Sanchez’s last.

On Thursday, MMA Fighting was first to report that Cerrone (36-15, 2NC) and Sanchez (30-13) would face off at a UFC event scheduled for May 8. Verbal agreements are in place for the bout. Sanchez, winner of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter at middleweight, has long stated that his next contest will be his retirement fight.

If that’s the case, he couldn’t have picked a better opponent. Cerrone is himself a living legend in the UFC, and a former teammate of Sanchez, back when the pair both trained at Jackson-Wink MMA in New Mexico.

Sanchez once again confirmed Thursday that the fight against Cerrone would be his swan song.

The fight will bring about an end to a professional career that kicked off in 2002. An 11-0 win streak brought Sanchez to The Ultimate Fighter 1, where he defeated Kenny Florian in the finale to become a TUF champ alongside Forrest Griffin (light heavyweight). The wins didn’t stop there, as Sanchez worked his way to 17-0, returning to the welterweight division and going on a tear before coming up short in back-to-back fights against Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch. But another four-fight win streak along with a move to lightweight brought him to a title shot against BJ Penn.

That UFC 107 loss would be the closest Sanchez would get to gold. But he remained a mainstay in the promotion for years to come, bouncing back to welterweight at times. Plus a failed experiment at featherweight. The fight with Cerrone will come at welterweight.

Cerrone has had a rough stretch of late, while facing some of the top names in two divisions. Most recently, he battled to a draw with Niko Price in September. That halted a four-fight losing streak, where “Cowboy” had dropped bouts to Anthony Pettis, Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, and Tony Ferguson.

The UFC’s May 8 event does not yet have an official location or venue announced.