New Mexico approves Diego Sanchez to fight Austin Trout in BKFC after additional medical testing

Diego Sanchez’s bare-knuckle boxing debut against Austin Trout has the green light to proceed following the submission of additional medical testing.

During a special hearing Tuesday, the New Mexico Athletic Commission approved the bout between the UFC legend and former boxing champion at the upcoming BKFC: KnuckleMania 3 event in Albuquerque by a vote of 3-1.

The meeting was the second in recent weeks to discuss the prospects of New Mexico’s Sanchez fighting Trout. On Dec. 21, the fight was discussed as part of the event license approval, but commissioner Jerome O’Connell voiced concerns about Sanchez’s health – especially pertinent to the level of opposition.

Since the initial hearing, Sanchez and his manager, Ricky Kottenstette, submitted additional medical testing that included a brain MRI and a neurological exam, which led to approval from all voting commission members except O’Connell. He indicated outside regulatory bodies had voiced concerns to NMAC about Sanchez.

“(Concerns) for me center around Diego Sanchez’s long-standing concerns about neurological issues and concussions,  and his concerns in articles and interviews about brain damage,” O’Connell said. “Those, for me, haven’t been alleviated by an MRI and a neurology report. I have some of the same reservations that we talked about when we last got together.

“… I find it compelling that there are concerns outside of our body with this fight. That gives me pause.”

While Sanchez did not speak on Tuesday’s call, he went before the commission at the Dec. 21 meeting and attributed many of the online concerns to his former manager, Joshua Fabia, as hearsay. Sanchez indicated he cares about his long-term health and took it upon himself to get examined to ensure no serious issues.

Both Sanchez, 41, and Trout, 37, will make their BKFC debut Feb. 17 at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. The main card streams on BareKnuckle TV after prelims on YouTube.

Since his UFC departure in 2021, Sanchez has competed once in MMA. At Eagle FC 46, he put forth a competitive outing in a loss against Kevin Lee. In his most recent six MMA fights, Sanchez went 3-3 with wins over Michel Pereira, Mickey Gall, and Craig White.

Trout is a former WBA light middleweight champion with a 35-5 record. He signed with BKFC in November and is on a five-fight winning streak in professional boxing.

Shortly after the commission’s approval, BKFC announced Trout vs. Sanchez on social media. It will likely be co-main event to an already-announced Lorenzo Hunt vs. Mike Richman title fight.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie