Whether it be Patricio Pitbull or Donald Trump, Emmanuel Sanchez doesn’t care who he fights, so long as he gets to fight for the featherweight title. At Bellator 209 this Thursday in Tel Aviv, he gets his shot.
On Thursday night in Tel Aviv, Israel, Bellator MMA is back in action, and atop the card, some fresh blood challenging for the featherweight title. The 145lb division has long seemed to be the exclusive club of names like Pitbull, Straus, Curran, and Weichel. At any given moment, three of the four would be in the mix, leaving the rest of the weight class on the outside, looking in. That all changes Thursday, when Emmanuel Sanchez has an opportunity to blow the division wide open.
Speaking to Cageside Press ahead of the fight (which airs Friday night on Paramount Network), Sanchez said of being granted the title fight that “not to say I was one to beg, but I did.” ‘El Matador’ admitted that he was “pretty animated on the mic” after his last fight, but then, “I always am.”
That last fight, at Bellator 198 against Sam Sicilia, ended in a submission win for Sanchez. After that, he made his case. “Let me get that belt man, let me get the champ. Not going to let it slip through my fingers. I’m blessed for the opportunity,” he told us, but admitted that “If I needed to fight ten more, I gotta fight ten more. I’m a businessman, I do what the boss says. I fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Luckily for Sanchez, Bellator has opted to put the champ in front of him. Patricio Pitbull, in his second reign as featherweight champion.
“”I didn’t call Pitbull out, I said I wanted the champion. If the champion was Daniel Weichel, if it was Curran, if it was Donald Trump, whoever it is, I said that’s who I want.”
Sanchez feels his results are what got him to this point. “I don’t pick and choose opponents, I don’t trash talk, I didn’t get my way up here because of trashing talking,” he said. “I got up here because of my results, because of who I’ve beat and what I’ve done. Now I get to go out there and fight the champion. That’s all I wanted, is to fight the champion.”
And to be clear, “I didn’t call Pitbull out, I said I wanted the champion,” he added. “If the champion was Daniel Weichel, if it was Curran, if it was Donald Trump, whoever it is, I said that’s who I want, that’s who I want to get, and that’s who I got. So let’s go out and make it happen.” Honestly, who wouldn’t pay a whole lot to watch Donald Trump fight? The PPV numbers would shatter records.
All joking aside, Sanchez is laser-focused on the fight ahead. On weight, and not worried about the flight over to Israel complicating anything. “I’m right next to weight right now, loving life,” Sanchez informed us. “Still eating, still hydrated, 100% strong. I ain’t cutting no weight. My health and my nutrition in my number one priority. To be able to go out there and be able to train, number one, to the best of your abilities, but also to be able to perform to the best of your abilities.”
“I’m sure the flight and stuff like that might suck,” he allowed, “but it’s nothing a little sleep can’t help, a little rest.”
Fighting in the Holy Land isn’t going to pose any problems, then. “It’s all about being mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually strong. I’m ready to fight at the snap of fingers. That’s the truth. You’ve got to be able to turn it on when the lights come on.”
That’s regardless of when or where. “If it was on my front lawn at four in the morning, if it was midnight and we needed to throw down, whatever it is, gotta do what I gotta do. You think military soldiers out there in the world say ‘aww man I’m not ready to fight right now?’ Hey man, its a fighter’s life. Gotta go out there and make it happen no matter what.”
Champ Patricio Pitbull has been in the game a long time, and marks the toughest fight of Emmanuel Sanchez’s career to date. He’s not about to change what has been working, what got him here, however. “I keep my circle small, and my circle is strong,” he said. “They’ve been with me since the beginning. I know all my guys, it doesn’t matter who I’ve been fighting. We got the right kind of guys to help me, and I’ve got the best coaches to help me.”
Patricio’s status in the sport, “for me, it doesn’t’ mean anything. It’s just another fight, that’s all it is. It’s another man, it’s another human being with an amazing style, an amazing background, amazing experience, etc. To me, he’s a patient, same treatment, gonna go out there and put it on him. That’s it. Gotta get the medicine, and the Matador’s got the medicine to hand out. So time to go give it to him.”
“People try to put pressure on me, but diamonds form under pressure.”
The key to ‘El Matador’ getting his hand raised? Sanchez believes that his style and pressure will be a new experience for Pitbull. “Obviously each and every single opponent brings something different to the table,” Sanchez said, and pointed out that Pitbull “hasn’t fought different opponents over these years. He’s fought Straus three times since I’ve been in Bellator. He’s fought Weichel twice. He fought Corrales, he fought Henderson. That’s it. While I fought a variety of different guys.”
The challenge he presents his opponents, Sanchez told us, is something only a fighter can truly know. But “I know I bring something totally different to the table that makes them wilt under pressure,” he explained. “People try to put pressure on me, but diamonds form under pressure. I’m excited, man. I don’t care what he brings to the table, all he’s done over the years. I respect him, his skill, him as a man, but he’s just another man. He just happens to hold the title, and the fight just happens to be for five rounds.”
Looking past an opponent is a dangerous thing for any fighter to do, and Sanchez wasn’t about to make that error heading in. Asked about the rest of the division, and in particular A.J. McKee, Sanchez said that “I’m not going to talk trash about anybody. Each and every single guy on the roster right now brings something different to the table, and they’re all amazing and they’re all this and that.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. No one else is relevant right now,” he continued. “Right now it’s the two men fighting for the title, and that’s me, and Patricio Pitbull. And that’s all that matters.”
As far as how he sees the fight playing out, “I take what’s given to me. I’m an opportunist,” Sanchez said. “If I see the knockout, I seek the knockout. I see the ground and pound stoppage by the referee, I take that. I see the submission, I take that. If not, Khabib style, five round *ss whupping. Put him through hell, murder him. I’m prepared for everything. And you see that. I’m a chameleon. There’s nowhere in the cage that I feel uncomfortable, or I feel like I’m lost, or like ‘oh man, I can’t do this,” blah blah blah. I fight everywhere, that’s my style.”
With that in mind, ultimately, Emmanuel Sanchez’s plan for Patricio Pitbull is to “beat him everywhere.”