Ahead of Bellator 272, Emmanuel Sanchez (20-6) told Cageside Press that admittedly, he feels the need to make a statement after dropping his last two fights.
“Absolutely, but I don’t let any of that get to me,” the featherweight known as “El Matador” told us. Instead, the plan is to “go out there and fight my fight, and get my hand raised.”
That mindset comes about after doing the opposite in his last fight, against Mads Burnell. “I put too much pressure on myself, that I can admit to, in the last one. Losing in the grand prix and how much it meant to me and how band I wanted to win, everything. Going into that last one, I wanted to make a statement, felt like I needed to make a statement, get myself back up to the top and still be considered one of the best,” Sanchez explained. “Now, I’m just hungry to go out there and fight. I love to fight. And my statement is winning. Winning solves everything.”
After exiting the grand prix in his rematch with Patricio Pitbull then losing a close fight against Burnell, next up is Jeremy Kennedy. A fighter who opted not to re-sign with the UFC years ago, instead pursuing success in other promotions, including Brave CF, the PFL, and now Bellator. It’s a tough match-up — but that’s not unexpected, said Sanchez.
“They’re all tough match-ups. Guys that are not signed are tough match-ups. There’s tough fighters all over the world,” said Sanchez. “PFL, ONE FC, UFC, any FC that’s out there, along with these up-and-coming kids that are just getting signed to Bellator. And I’m hungry to get a win over them all.”
After ten years of pro fight experience, however, Sanchez intends to prove that “experience, and on top of that, training with some of the best in the world at Roufusport, is why I’m at the top, for a reason.”
One of the big lessons learned over the years? “You can never let a win get to your head, and you can never let a loss get to your heart,” said Sanchez. “You can’t let any of the negativity let you down, ever.”
Sanchez has a long history with the title picture in Bellator, and asked whether he thought current 145lb champ AJ McKee might move to lightweight, “El Matador” replied that he can envision it.
“I can see him going up.” And, he added, “that’s something that’s in the picture for myself too. Being 32 in 2022, and I actually started at lightweight as well.” Back in 2014 when he made the drop to featherweight, Sanchez had been training with a bunch of the top lightweights in the world, and all were bigger than him. As he gets older, the weight cuts are getting harder — and Sanchez doesn’t really care about the weight he fights at anyway. Rather, what matters is claiming gold.
“I want the C. I want to see the C next to my name at the top, and I want to hold the strap. I want to be the champion, that’s the only reason I’m fighting, is just to be world champion.”
First, however, he wants to dominate the featherweights — with the next chance coming Friday.
Emmanuel Sanchez returns at Bellator 272 this Friday, December 3 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. More coverage of the card can be found below.