Emmanuel Sanchez has seen the ups and downs of CM Punk's MMA training, but to him he's just "Phil." Well, kind of.
We spoke to Sanchez ahead of his fight with Georgi Karakhanyan at Bellator 170, and spoke to him about his Roufusport teammate CM Punk. The former WWE great Punk had a rough outing in his UFC debut against Mickey Gall at UFC 203, but Sanchez claims Punk isn't done in the Octagon.
"Absolutely. The way he moved the needle, the way he loves it -- even though it didn't go the way he wanted it to -- he worked his ass off for that. People are going to say what they're going to say. You'll have keyboard warriors that wanna talk all that crap, but this guy trained three, four, five times a day, had back surgery and did everything he could possibly do to win. He could have went out and been a showman and collected a paycheck. He wanted to win. He didn't care about anything else but winning. He has that competitive edge in him that I've seen in training," said Sanchez.
Last year, Sanchez admitted that Punk's presence was a little bit of a distraction. But the Bellator featherweight just looks at his teammate as a regular guy.
"I know him personally, but I never knew him as CM Punk. I started to hear about this guy that I had no idea who he was. I know him as Phil Brooks, I mean, we still call him Punk. He's a normal human being," said Sanchez.
Sanchez looks to rebound from his Bellator 159 loss to Daniel Weichel. Sanchez also had an injury setback that he says was a blessing in disguise.
"I was scheduled to fight in December and unfortunately I had to withdraw. It was a painful moment for me, I had never had to withdraw from a fight before, I had never been that seriously hurt in training before. It wasn't that serious, it didn't keep me from doing things in life, but I couldn't fight to my full potential. Two or three weeks after my healing process I got the call to fight Georgi on an even bigger card. Christmas came early," Sanchez said.
Fightful.com will have full, live coverage and discussion of Bellator 170, which takes place January 21 from Inglewood, California, with Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen headlining.