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Diego Sanchez: Lightweight Division, 'Nightmare' Nickname Both In the Past

Diego Sanchez has made plenty of changes in the last few months as he's adjusted back to life in New Mexico and re-focusing on his career.

Among the differences in the 29-year-old? A serious weight-lifting regimen that has added muscle to his 5-foot-11 frame. Also, he's dropping the "Nightmare." The long-held nickname no longer applies to his new way of life, Sanchez says.

Of course, one change is symbolic while the other is functional, but to hear Sanchez tell it, they're equally as important.

"I let that go. I let the 'Nightmare' go," he said on a Tuesday teleconference. "To me, I see some negative in it. A nightmare is something that is negative and kind of evil. I don't want to represent that. I want to represent positivity and good.

"I look back on my career. The 'Nightmare'? The nightmare was myself," he continued. "All the times I fell off track and got into drinking, got into smoking weed, the things that brought me down, the partying. That was my nightmare. I was my own nightmare. I'm grown up. I'm going to let that name go. I just want to be Diego Sanchez. I don't even need a nickname. I'm me."

Sanchez (22-4) faces Martin Kampmann in the main event of March 3's UFC on Versus event. It will be his third straight fight as a welterweight, and he says the future for him will only be in the 170-pound weight class.

Back with his first coach Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sanchez has embraced weight-lifting, working alongside top-level wrestler Willie Parks in adding muscle to his frame. Sanchez told MMA Fighting that he's currently walking around between 187-190 just about a week before weigh-ins.

"The options are closed for me to ever go down to 155 again," Sanchez said.

"In my last fight I was really prepared, I worked hard, but I wasn't physically strong," he explained. "That's something that you have to have at welterweight. Be physically strong. It's something I really worked at it in this training camp. I think the fans will be real surprised when they see the way I look, the way I feel, and how I impose my will with my physical strength."

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