Many are calling Emmanuel Sanchez a prospect, but he doesn't see things that way.
The 26-year old Roufusport producs has torn his way through Bellator MMA, amassing a 5-1 record in under two years. After taking former champion Pat Curran the distance on short notice in his lone Bellator loss, Sanchez reeled off three straight wins. With a win over Daniel Weichel at Bellaotr 159 on July 22, he wants his shot
“I think I'm in the title hunt, that's exactly how I feel. I think I've proved in all my fights that I'm a contender," Sanchez told Fightful.com. "I proved that in my debut and I proved that by taking a short notice fight with Pat Curran in just three weeks. He had more fights in Bellator than I've had in my career and gave him a tough fight on short notice. I can fight anyone, anywhere, anytime, nothing phases me, no one phases.”
Weichel also considers himself the top contender at 145 pounds, also with a 5-1 record. With three straight split decision wins, Sanchez knows he needs to turn some heads against the veteran.
“I'm looking to finish this fight in the first round. I know I can. I've won by decision, but I was on the verge of finishing them. You live and you learn. It's just the beginning and I'm going to prove I can get these finishes," said Sanchez
Weichel and Sanchez are at different points in their lives, with the 31-year old Weichel a traveled veteran of Shooto, M-1, King of the Cage and BAMMA. Even though Sanchez doesn't consider himself a 'prospect,' he doesn't think he's hit his physical peak.
“Sometimes I feel like I'm not,” Sanchez said with a laugh. “At times I feel weak physically to certain training partners in certain positions. Part of me says 'do I need to lift more?', no, I just need to wrestle more. I feel like I'm still growing as well. I like being deceptive as a guy who doesn't look strong or fast, and people are surprised. I love that look on their face.”
Sanchez brought up the fact that the often redundant Bellator featherweight division is ready for new blood at the top, and called to end the rematches and trilogies of years past. Sanchez thinks he can be that new blood, and is looking for his opportunity.
“I know I'm calling for it. I'm into this sport to be a champion. I believe people who are in it for money or to fight on TV are in it for the wrong reasons. I want to hold the title, and I'm on the road to make that happen. With a win over Daniel Weichel, I think I can get that fight. I think it's time to make way for the new contenders. On paper, Pitbull might be the most deserving, but we've seen Pitbull vs. Straus three times, and Pitbull vs. Curran and Curran vs. Straus. It's time for people like myself. We want new hungry guys. Make way for me,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez and Weichel square off July 22 at Bellator 159 on Spike TV.
By Sean Ross Sapp