Bellator 184 ‘Dantas vs Caldwell’ takes place Oct. 6, 2017 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. Today MMA Mania talks to ‘El Matador’ Emmanuel Sanchez about a critical Featherweight fight on that card with former champion Daniel Straus.
Bellator 184 “Dantas vs. Caldwell” comes to WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. on Oct. 6, 2017. Headlining the card that night is a Bantamweight title defense for Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas as he takes on an elite wrestling stud in Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell.
There’s a Featherweight fight on Friday night that is equally intriguing. Former champion Daniel Straus (25-7), fresh off a stunningly one-sided defeat by Patricio Freire in their fourth fight at Bellator 178 takes on divisional stud Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez (15-3).
This isn’t the first former champion Sanchez has faced. Last time out Sanchez faced Marcos Galvao as he attempted to reinvent himself at 145 lbs. That was a nice idea in theory but in practice Sanchez was able to stuff almost every takedown attempt and outbox him at close range en route to a unanimous decision.
A second win over a former champion would give Sanchez a strong argument to face the younger “Pitbull” Freire for the title, but a win for Straus could give him an unprecedented FIFTH fight with the champ.
First things first though for Mr. Sanchez — he’s happy with the win over Galvao from March 2017 but aware that not everything was ideal heading into that fight.
“It was very very satisfying you know? Obviously there were things that led into it I wasn’t too happy with, but it’s living and learning man. You’ve got to forget the past and look always toward the future and the better, you know what I mean? Mistakes were made, but now I’ve learned from this mistakes.”
Let’s not pull any punches about it. Weighing in at 149.5 in a fight scheduled for 145 (with a one pound allowance) is a mistake. Sanchez normally hits the mark although he has fought at a catchweight before when necessary. His frankness about the situation is refreshing.
“Sometimes (mistakes) are just blessings in disguise. Not fighting 100%, not being able to get yourself the finish that you want, but now I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m just hitting my prime, and I’m just scratching the surface of my potential. I can’t wait to showcase my skills and me as strong as I am now against Daniel Straus.”
Since Sanchez brought the issue up of his own volition, the only natural response was to find out what he’s change in his pre-fight preparations to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“My nutritionist is actually my girlfriend now too. That’s my advice to all guys out there. Yeah, get yourself a girl that’s a nutritionist if you’re gonna fight. I listen to her like she’s the boss, almost just like one of my coaches you know? I just let it be like okay yes, it’s not what I want or what I think, it’s whatever she says goes — just like how I listen to my coaches in that same way, and it’s working out terrific.”
It’s not just a change in diet thanks to a healthy relationship. Sanchez is talking a holistic approach to the entirety of what fighting at Featherweight means.
“For me it’s changing the whole mindset, the old school way of thinking like ‘Oh yeah, I’m gonna cut I’m gonna cut’ or ‘I got this much to go’ or whatever. It’s a lifestyle for one, it’s a way of being nourished, so (correctly) eating myself all the way up until the scale. Not in any way shape or form am I being undernourished or unhealthy — I’m fit to fight.”
Good health will help him fight but a good game plan for fighting a former champion like Straus is just as important. Speaking of “games” though MVP isn’t the only one playing Pokemon.
“That’s who I want to be, the legend slayer, the former champion slayer. I’ll fight ‘em all. You know it’s like Pokemon — you gotta go out there and catch ‘em all to be a Pokemon master right? To be the best you gotta go out and take out the best. How can I say I’m the best in the division, I’m the best in the world, if I’m not facing the best in the world?”
Clearly ‘El Matador’ wants to be the best like no one ever was. Can he catch Straus though? That’s the real test and Sanchez says he’s studied enough to pass it with flying colors.
“I’m on top of my P’s and Q’s in all areas of martial arts to go out there and think like ‘I’m looking for the knockout, I’m looking the submission, I’m looking for the finish, the TKO.’ I also know the ferocity that he brings, everything he brings to the table. I’m not going to get careless, reckless, I gotta go out there and fight my fight at my pace and make him dance my dance. Break him with my rhythm, my speed, my will, and go out there and put him away.”
And in no way is Sanchez saying that makes this an easy fight or a foregone conclusion.
“Look at him — former champion, worn Bellator gold, has wars with Patricio ‘Pitbull’ with Pat Curran, and has been dominating the division for years and years now. This is one of my toughest fights, this guy is a killer, he’s a murderer. I see him as dangerous everywhere. On the ground, standing, he’s the total package. He’s got over 30 professional fights so he’s got a lot of experience as well.”
There’s one other thing Sanchez has been working on and it’s the gift of gab. Sanchez says that teammate Paul Felder has been an inspiration with his UFC broadcasting success.
“I think it’s amazing! I’m very happy for Paul. Not many people know this but he went to acting school, that’s what he went to college for, and the degree in that is why he can commentate. Very well spoken, and he loves to throw down!”
Emmanuel Sanchez loves to throw down too so don’t miss him doing just that on October 6.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Dantas vs. Caldwell” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.
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