clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bellator 175’s ‘champion in the making,’ Emmanuel Sanchez, inspired by CM Punk

Bellator 175: “Rampage vs. King Mo 2” comes to Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., this Friday night (March 31, 2017), featuring a Light Heavyweight main event between two men with a three-year grudge as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal attempt to settle their differences

Earlier in the night, however, Featherweight standouts “El Matador” Emmanuel Sanchez and former Bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao will get their chance to shine on Spike TV’s live broadcast in a key ranking match for the 145-pound division. Sanchez has won four of his last five bouts in one of Bellator’s most stacked weight classes, with his sole loss during that span being a split decision against Daniel Weichel. He quickly rebounded from that setback and took a majority decision against “Insane” Georgi Karakhanyan.

Galvao is an intriguing challenge for Sanchez, standing 5’7” with a 67” reach compared to Sanchez at 5’9” with a 71” reach; however, he wouldn’t have accepted the fight if he didn’t feel there was an opening in Sanchez’s game that he’s ready to exploit.

In a recent interview with, Sanchez talked about his respect for the former champion coming up to challenge him at his own weight.

“I think it’s good! You know obviously getting down to 135 was just too hard for him now, and you never know, maybe one I’ll do the same (and) move back up to lightweight. For now, for sure, this division is mine for the taking — I’m the champion in the making! I just gotta take care of business and prove that I’m the king and the best of this division, so I’ll fight whoever, whenever, wherever to prove that I’m the best.”

Proving he’s the best most recently meant going the distance with Georgi Karakhanyan on the huge “Ortiz vs. Sonnen”-led card. And even though he got the “W,” he’s still not 100 percent satisfied.

“I thought I’d have all three rounds (with the judges) of course, aside from the fact that, okay, he had my back, but he did no damage to me. He didn’t hurt me -- he didn’t even threaten the choke! So the whole time I’m scrambling, I’m fighting, and I’m looking to finish the fight. You see in the first and second round that I had him in a submission or ready for the TKO. I know I’m right there to just go out and continue to make amazing performances and continue to get closer to putting these guys away.”

That’s why Sanchez is looking for an impressive performance against Galvao this weekend, but he doesn’t expect Galvao to be any less competitive at 145 than he was at 135.

“Well, I know I’m a little taller than him and have a longer reach, but man I train with a lot of 135’ers that are bigger than me. You never know until you feel someone wrestling wise, striking wise, all that you know? If size mattered the elephant would be the king of the jungle. It’s also a matter of skills — skills and will, and I feel like my will to win outweighs everyones talents or physical attributes.”

Sanchez also knows he has to impress to achieve his title aspirations as he waits for Daniel Straus and Patricio Freire to fight a fourth time.

“Honestly, I’m surprised myself that (Daniel) Weichel’s not getting it, but maybe they know that Weichel didn’t really beat me and I was robbed — that’s why they’re making that happen (a fourth time), but who knows? That’s obviously a barn burner as a fight every time those goes throw down so how can anyone complain? I get it — they want to present names and faces up there vying for the title — you just get these guys that throw down every time they fight, that’s what the public wants to see and Bellator wants to see. I know for sure the winner, either of those two, I’ll be ready or if anything happens to them, I’ll be ready.”

It certainly wouldn’t be the only Bellator main event to fall apart in recent history, but to step in on short notice if needed he’s got to beat Galvao and not get hurt doing it, which Sanchez admits has always been a career goal.

“Early on in my career I never had (damage). I always left my fights without a scratch on me and I’m like ‘Wow - I’m so pretty!’ I want to have a long career, and I want to take no damage you know? So I’ve always been like a perfectionist, and I think that’s my problem, too. You try to be too perfect, it makes you not want to pull the trigger and take risks, and if you try to be too aggressive, you can get caught up on the wrong end of a knockout.”

That’s led the Roufusport team to develop a style specifically aimed to maximize his aggression.

“I guess there’s that happy medium right there and you’ve gotta find that. For me we call that ‘technical aggression.’ What I’ve been working on the most is just being like Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez — guys that come forward, but there’s that intelligent pressure of coming forward instead of, ‘Hey just bite down on the mouthpiece and throw down,’ you know?”

And though Sanchez takes inspiration from the boxing world, he also takes a little from former pro wrestler and teammate C.M. Punk, too.

“Take some advice from the man to get your name up there in value. This guy wrote all of Chael Sonnen’s bits. He got himself up there in pro wrestling, so obviously he knows how to market and promote himself and move the needle. If guys want to be up there, so many guys complain, just go out there and entertain. And if you don’t got the mouth to do it then do it with your fists. You gotta do everything. What separates you from everyone else? Why do people want to watch you fight, you know? So I’m glad Punk’s on our side, and as a human being he’s an amazing person, and at martial arts he’s always eager to learn.”

Don’t miss Bellator 175 to see if Sanchez can be the total package in fighting and entertaining the crowd. Complete audio of our interview is embedded in the video player above and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania