Despite fighting for the Bellator featherweight title on Friday, April 2 at Bellator 255, Emmanuel Sanchez has been ranked back of AJ McKee in the promotion’s new official rankings.
“I kind of figured. I knew that was going to happen,” El Matador admitted during the event’s virtual media day this week. “What I have ahead of me is the two best fighters in the world in this organization. Because they have two accolades that I don’t: one, being a champ-champ, who has a win over me, and has been the greatest fighter in Bellator history, number one pound-for-pound. And the other, longest win streak, undefeated, and look at what a start he’s been [having] in Bellator.”
Patricio Pitbull, the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champ, is that champ-champ. That’s the man Sanchez faces Friday in a fight that is also a featherweight grand prix semifinal. AJ McKee is the undefeated star, already awaiting the winner of Pitbull vs. Sanchez in the tournament final.
Sanchez has a 2018 loss to Pitbull in their first meeting, and was supposed to face McKee in 2016. In short, he’s righting some wrongs, or at least making up for lost opportunities, this time out. “Now I know I’m on this platform, a lot more is on the line, and I’m grateful for it all.”
A much calmer Emmanuel Sanchez will be entering the rematch with Pitbull this Friday night, however. “I find it more calming, because I’ve also been cageside for his last three fights. Getting that win over Michael Chandler, the win over Juan Archuleta, and recently the win over Pedro Carvalho. So I still see those holes and those gaps and those openings where I know I can capitalize on, and also [what I] need to watch out for so it doesn’t leave my face a bloody mess,” explained Sanchez. “He taught me a very valuable lesson [in their first fight].”
Thanks to that first fight, Sanchez said he knows “what this man brings to the table. I know I’m fighting the best pound-for-pound fighter, the best Bellator champion in history. But I do also know that I can defeat him, and I have the potential to defeat him, and I will defeat him. And that’s exactly what I’m looking to go out and go do, turning my dreams into reality, and on to the final.”
Watch the full Bellator 255 virtual media day scrum with Emmanuel Sanchez above. Bellator 255 takes place Friday, April 2 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The card airs live on Showtime, and will be available in its entirety right here on Cageside Press.