Bellator 252: Daniel Weichel Doesn’t Want to Focus on Money, but Million Dollar Grand Prix Prize Makes Things Sweeter

Daniel Weichel traveled all the way to the U.S. to face Emmanuel Sanchez as part of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix back in March. Then, due to the coronavirus pandemic, he had to turn around and fly home.

“It was very strange to fly back without fighting,” he admitted during the Bellator 252 media day this week. “It was also a very strange situation coming home. First the fight was cancelled, something I had focused on the last couple months. From then on, I had to adapt to a completely different situation, with the pandemic. The gym was closed, the whole life around us changed a lot.”

Life and training felt “way different,” said Weichel, but he managed to keep his focus on the fight, and stay in shape — even without the gym. And there were some benefits, Weichel later observed. “This was the first time in maybe 20 years that I hadn’t been on the mats for two months. It was strange. I enjoyed it, I spent a lot of time outside, in nature, and I really enjoyed it. I knew it was something that wasn’t there the last 20 years.”

Now, eight months later, Weichel and Sanchez will finally meet this week, in the co-main event of Bellator 252. It’s the second meeting for the featherweight pair; the first came back in 2016. Weichel won a split decision.

This time, it’s a five round fight. “It is definitely a different thing, a five round fight compared to a three round fight,” the veteran acknowledged. In his preparation, therefore, Weichel tried to get the mindset for a five-round fight. “What I’m focusing on is, I want to go five rounds and leave it all out there. I don’t want to go out of the fifth round and say ‘I could go six rounds, I could go seven rounds.'” After 25 minutes, he wants to have expended all his energy to defeat Emmanuel Sanchez.

At the end of the grand prix, a million dollars is on the line. That’s a big number for just about any MMA fighter. “You definitely get this in your mind a couple of times. I thought about this a lot, and I don’t want to make it the major motivation for me,” explained Weichel. “Because when I look at where I get my motivation from, where it all started when I was starting with MMA, it was not about money. It was about the passion, it was about the love for the game. This is what I try to keep every time I step on the mats, when I step into this cage. But definitely the million dollars makes it way sweeter with passion combined.”

Watch the full Bellator 252 virtual media day press scrum with Daniel Weichel above. The event takes place this Thursday, November 12 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT, with the main card airing live on CBS Sports Network.