Emmanuel Sanchez had yet to taste defeat in Bellator MMA prior to June 26, 2015, having previously notched wins in the cage against Stephen Banaszak and Alejandro Villalobos. The Featherweight class is crowded in Bellator, but with a 10-1 record he certainly gave off the impression of a fighter on the rise.
Then Sanchez ran into a brick wall in the form of Pat Curran, a two-time Featherweight champion for the promotion. Filling in as a replacement for the injured Goiti Yamauchi, Sanchez did some damage in the exchanges, but ultimately dropped a unanimous decision to "Paddy Mike."
To get back on track in Bellator, this weekend (Fri., Sept. 25, 2015) Sanchez will have to face another man coming off his first loss in the promotion, Henry "OK" Corrales at Bellator 143, which takes place inside State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. Corrales was completely undefeated coming into the promotion, but he, too, faced a former champion in search of regaining his glory, the hard-hitting and relentless Daniel Straus.
Sanchez recently sat down with MMAmania.com to chat about how he plans to get back to his winning ways in a fight with Corrales on the Spike TV-televised main card portion of Bellator 143.
Sanchez is not the type of man to make excuses about not winning, but he does have a few valid points about the reason(s) things didn't go his against Curran.
"I believe with Pat it was really difficult because we had just been training together, and I took that fight on short notice. I've known Pat for a long time. I've seen him fight since before I even had my first amateur fight. And we're both from the Midwest as well, you know? He trains not too far away from here in Milwaukee. It's just crazy how it all worked out. I do believe that I can defeat him ... it just wasn't my night."
His response to the "L" was to go right back to RoufusSport and train even harder for the next opportunity.
"I think (Corrales) is gonna bring it, but I bring it, too. You've got not only two guys obviously coming off a loss, but in my situation, I feel like it was win/win just taking that (Pat Curran) fight. So I think he's more hungry for trying to make a statement in Bellator, when I've (already) made my mark, I've proved I'm a contender, I've won."
The 145-pound division is crowded, though. And with both men taking a loss to former champions, Sanchez knows that the "Warren vs. Davis" card represents the chance to make big a statement for the future.
"(I'm) always refining my striking, my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu. Each and every coach that I've been working with personally or together, making my all around MMA game solid -- more solid than it already is. I'm trying to be the complete fighter and (I'm) using that come fight time."
Fighters are often careful not to sound cocky or overconfident, to avoid either tripping over their ego going into the cage door or to not give their opponent more fuel for the fire. Sanchez seems to like his chances against Corrales, though.
"He hasn't show much right? (He was) riding off 12 victories, working his way up, but obviously he wasn't ready for a big fight like that in his debut against a former champion. He says he brings the pace, and he looked winded to me! I bring the pace, too. From the looks and sounds of it on paper it's going to come down to a battle of wills and he's going to be broken. I've never been broken and he has."
Sanchez's fight record so far backs that up: Only two losses by decision and zero knockouts or submissions. In that respect, he views boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a role model.
"Love him or hate him ,but he does live up to what he's saying and that's the sweet science of boxing -- to hit and not get hit. I pride myself on not getting hit. Inevitably, it's a fight so it's going to happen, but we don't want it to, and that's not all I'm in the fight thinking about (is) 'Don't hit me!' But, the best defense is a good offense so, I have a strong offense and an even better defense to continue being able to go forward."
Sanchez will try to display his "Sweet "Science" acumen in Hidalgo, Texas, this Friday night at the expense of "OK" Corrales on Spike TV.
The complete audio of our interview with Sanchez is below, and complete coverage of Bellator 143: "Warren vs. Davis" on Sept. 25, 2015, at MMAmania.com will be right here.