Emmanuel Sanchez appears to have the potential to make a splash in MMA, but he remains fairly green at the highest levels. While he lacks experience, he believes he is much closer to joining the ranks of the elite at 145 pounds than most people think.
The last time the fight world saw “El Matador” in action, he held his own with former Bellator MMA champion Pat Curran before losing a unanimous decision as a short-notice replacement at Bellator 139 on June 26. The loss opened his eyes to at least one truth: Fighting someone with whom you had trained a month earlier tends to increase the degree of difficulty.
“It was a little awkward going into the fight because Curran actually came up to our camp, and I was helping him train,” Sanchez told Sherdog.com. “I was working with him prior to that fight, but then the next day after he left, I got the call [asking] if I wanted to fight him. It was awkward because he was just with our team. I knew then that at some point our paths could potentially cross, but I just didn’t think it would be that soon.”
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Sanchez was quick to point out that he does not believe there were any shenanigans involved with Curran or Bellator.
“I think it was a crazy coincidence,” he said. “I don’t think he was spying or anything like that. I think he was in the middle of switching camps. He’s from the Midwest, as well, and I think he was trying out different gyms. I think he knew that I was in the same division as him, but I don’t think any of us thought that I would get the call to fight him so quickly. It was a crazy.”
Sanchez took the Curran fight on a few weeks’ notice and remains content with how he performed under less-than-ideal circumstances. The loss proved beneficial.
“I don’t think I was outclassed or that I didn’t belong with him at all,” Sanchez said. “I took that fight on short notice, and he has more fights in Bellator than I have professional fights. I’m new to the weight class, and I’m looking to make a statement. I didn’t learn any one particular thing from that fight, but I know that I need to bring more tools to the table. I think I was stuck in trying to fight him in only one way when I know I can do more. He brought more tools to the table and fought me in different ways.”
The defeat snapped a six-fight winning streak for Sanchez and left him eager to get back on track. He will face Henry Corrales at Bellator 143 on Friday at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas. A former King of the Cage champion, Corrales submitted to a second-round guillotine choke from Daniel Straus in his organizational debut at Bellator 138. Sanchez expects to see a desperate man across the cage.
“He’s well-rounded; he’s ready,” Sanchez said. “He’s tough, but everybody’s tough in this game; but this isn’t a tough-guy sport. If you’re just a tough guy, you’re going to get hurt really bad. This is a thinking-man’s sport. I’m taking a more cerebral approach to this, and this is a completely different ball game up here in these ranks, with this high level of fighters. He’s never faced anyone like me.”
Corrales had won all 12 of his fights, 10 of them finishes, prior to his encounter with Straus.
“His last fight on this level, he was exposed and he was way out of his league,” Sanchez said. “He did well, but he wasn’t ready for that, [and] he won’t be ready for me. There could be a fire lit under him right now. It sucks for him that he lost because he was riding a 12-fight winning streak and he knows all that he’s accomplished, but none of that means anything because he won’t have his hand raised. I’m looking to do the same or worse than what Straus did to him.”