After a standout career in the collegiate wrestling ranks, middleweight up-and-comer Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez has kept things going as he’s made the transition to MMA.
According to Sanchez, transitioning is the most important thing as he goes from his wrestling base to becoming an all-around fighter.
“Starting out I really relied on my wrestling and grappling, so I pretty much just took it to the ground and won most fights by submission or TKO,” he said. “I hadn’t thrown a punch until two years ago. I’ve only been boxing for two years, so I had primarily been a grappler, but I’ve been working on my striking and my transitions.
“A lot of people haven’t seen my full game, my striking and jiu-jitsu, but I’ve come a long way and I think in a couple of years I can be an elite level striker. Hopefully I’ll be able to showcase all my skills soon.”
One of the ways Sanchez has accelerated his growth is not just sticking to one gym, but rather getting out of his native Missouri and traveling to such camps as TriStar and hopefully one day Greg Jackson’s.
“I like to switch it up,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com. “I think that’s the best way to go about training.
“St. Louis has some good MMA, but I felt like a big fish in a small pond, so I wanted to branch out. I’ve trained all over in St. Louis and had some great guys there like Tyron Woodley, but I’m always looking to get pushed. I want to get beat in training because that’s the only way you get better, so I’m always looking to branch out.”
“He’s kind of tricky because he’s wild and unorthodox with knockout power,” said Sanchez of Marshall. “I can be ten times better than anybody, but with knockout power it only takes one time, so I’ve got to watch out for that.
“I think I’m more technical than he is. If I can take it to the ground, I can out-class him. I also think the longer the fight goes it will be to my advantage because he gasses when he gets over-aggressive. Unless he can knock me out, I don’t see him have any chance of winning this fight.”
Should Sanchez get past Marshall on March 7, he’ll be one step closer to obtaining his goal of becoming a champion, while at the same time making sure to take the right steps in becoming a complete MMA fighter.
“I’m definitely a fight-by-fight guy,” said Sanchez. “I never look past anybody. If I win this fight, I’ll fight Kevin Casey next, but I try to block that out. I have Miles Marshall to focus on.
“I do have the goal in mind to be the RFA champion. After I take the title, I’d like to go fight-by-fight and evaluate my performance and hopefully add something new to my arsenal for each fight. I want to take my time, train, and evolve as a fighter.”