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Bellator 241’s Daniel Weichel will exploit holes in Emmanuel Sanchez to get to ‘Pitbull’

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Daniel Weichel interview

Bellator 241: “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” is set for this weekend (Fri., March 13, 2020) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., streaming exclusively on DAZN. Dual weight class “champ-champ” Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (30-4) puts his 145-pound title against Pedro Carvalho (11-3) as the saga of the Featherweight Grand Prix continues.

That saga will also unfold in a rematch four years in the making. Daniel Weichel (40-11) and Emmanuel Sanchez (19-4) last met at Bellator 159 in July 2016 in a bout where neither man could fully press the advantage. Sanchez would be forced to accept a split decision loss that night, but he has vowed to get revenge at Mohegan Sun.

For Weichel — a two-time No. 1 title contender — the plan seems simple enough: do what he did last time ... just a bit better. “Drake” has risen to the top of the charts before and knows just what it takes after more than 50 professional fights. Getting there, though, is always easier said than done.

MMAmania.com recently spoke with Weichel about his rematch with Sanchez at Mohegan Sun and his high level of anticipation for this tournament bout.

“I worked for it very hard and I can’t wait for March 13. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that fight.”

Looking back on their first meeting in Kansas, does Weichel believe the fight was as close as his opponent or the judges did that day?

“I don’t think it was that close. Of course it was a close fight (because) it went to a decision and we both were very active. Anyway, I was controlling (him) most of the fight and I had the better connections, though when I analyze the fight like I do always, I know that I could have done so much more. Even though I know I was winning the fight, there’s a couple of percentage (more effort) that I could have put in.”

Weichel says that extra effort he puts in will lead to a very decisive finish on Friday.

“That’s what I’m working for — absolutely. All of the experiences I’ve had, I will carry it with me, I will learn from it and I will put it with the right intuition into this fight.”

Sanchez seeks the exact same thing and is working just as hard to get it, so I asked Weichel if he was surprised “El Matador” wanted this fight instead of a potentially easier bracket.

“You know, I know that he was complaining about the decision a couple of times after our fight, so that wasn’t too surprising to me. He was talking about the rematch many times, so when he picked me I was like, ‘Yeah, no surprise at all.’”

At the end of the day, for both men it isn’t as much about settling the score, it’s about advancing to the next round to (potentially) get another shot at “Pitbull” for the title.

“When I looked at it and saw Pitbull and me in the same pool, I was like, ‘Hey! This is it! This is my journey — the third time!’ I think Pitbull will win his fight. Taking nothing away from Carvalho, but I think Pitbull will win. (I’m) seeing myself fighting Pitbull in this tournament, in this historical tournament, a third time and get(ting) the win. This is the dream come true.”

At least one of Pitbull’s previous opponents can say third time’s the charm when it comes to beating him, but for Weichel that’s just a byproduct of what he’s learned from prior bouts.

“I don’t try to look at that too much because other fighters ... every fighter has a different life, a different experience and everything. When I look at myself as a fighter and the fights that I’ve made, especially with Pitbull, I know that I found holes in his game while I was fighting him. It was two times very close that I was (almost) able to finish him, so this gives me confidence and motivation to move on. (I’m) looking forward to a third fight.”

Weichel clearly wants that trilogy bout with Pitbull, but he’s had to wait six months just to face Sanchez a second time. And to him, that wasn’t an ideal length of time.

“It was like from November on, yeah it was (too long). I like to stay active you know, because I don’t take (time) off from training, so for me I like to stay more active fighting.”

While that might register to some as a complaint about the structure of the Featherweight Grand Prix, Weichel would not have it any other way.

“These tournaments (are) the best things that ever were created for MMA. I love this. I love especially this tournament — it’s amazing. You know when you fight next, so this is perfect. You can heal up if you have injuries in a fight, you can heal up and go right back into preparation for the next one. You know when, you know against who, this is what I like the most — definitely.”

Since Weichel is sure that he and Freire are destined to meet a third time, he needs to use anything he learned between now and facing Sanchez four years ago to make it a reality.

“Yeah, you can see that he gets sometimes kind of wild, walking forward, and leaves opening on the way in. This will be my task — to use his openings to hurt him.”

Even though there’s a heightened sense of fear about travel and the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Weichel believes he’s taking all of the right precautions before coming to the U.S.

“Of course you have to think about it, but I do this like as always. At the moment, here it’s winter time, and many people are getting sick or getting a cold, so I stay away from people. {*chuckling*} I stay at home, I do my groceries, and I stay with the family as much as possible. I don’t get in contact with too many people anyway, but I still have an eye on that as well, definitely. I have to stay healthy up until the fight.”

Here’s looking forward to a healthy rematch between Weichel and Sanchez at Mohegan Sun Arena this weekend.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Pitbull vs. Carvalho” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

Bellator 241’s main card will start at 10 p.m. ET exclusively on DAZN. MMAmania.com will deliver results and play-by-play for the Bellator MMA card HERE.