There comes a time in every fighter’s life when the taxes levied by age and mileage become a price too great to pay, when the performances he puts forth in the cage are mere shadows of the greatness that once was. For Diego Sanchez, that time was about two years ago. Now, we have a TUF 1 winner and former top contender simply going through the motions, talking of “nightmares” and “dreams” while it looks like he’s merely sleeping. We’ve seen this before, this acute kind of mental illness where delusions of ability keep a fighter going when they should hang up the gloves. But unlike those sad examples of yore – like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Forrest Griffin – we have other things doing real damage to what should be a great legacy.

We have Saturday night, and the awful decision that won Sanchez the bout.

This post isn’t in any way an examination of the lunacy of that decision. We know it was crazy, the kind of bad decision that will leave a lingering taste in our collective mouths for years to come. There’s no need to harp on the matter.

But this post IS a plea for Sanchez to re-examine his goals in the cage. Because while a split decision in a bout he surely had lost is a travesty, the fact of the matter is that such things tend to overshadow accomplishments more than mere losses would. If Sanchez had retired after losing to Gilbert Melendez, or Mile Jury, or even Jake Ellenberger, those losses would be a period on a long sentence filled with adjectives like “badass” and “exciting”.

Events like what happened on Saturday night, though, change that period into a question mark. And with each passing moment (and dulled reflex, loss of speed and dimming of fight acuity), there’s less and less a chance that Sanchez can change the punctuation that will signal the ultimate end of his career.

In other words, Saturday night’s performance was bad and the result made it just that much more memorable – and it can only get worse.

Sanchez was a superstar when he took out Nick Diaz. He was a stud and a half when he put away Joe Riggs, and battled it out with Karo Parisyan and Clay Guida. But those days are gone and it’s time for him to be gone as well.

Otherwise, all we’ll remember is crap his career has become.