by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Eddie Sanchez moved up the ladder in the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight division at UFC 79 by defeating Sao Palelei by TKO.
Palelei was highly touted going into the fight as he was training at Team Quest with guys like Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland. While he tried to use his size to clinch with Sanchez, he could not take him down and fell victim to his heavy strikes.
MMAWeekly Radio caught up with Sanchez recently and asked him about the rumors about how good Palelei was and his training with Team Quest.
“To a certain extent it matters who you train with, but a few months training with Team Quest is not gonna make him superman,” he said.
As Sanchez was trying to open up with his strikes throughout the fight, Palelei continued to clinch and much of the fight was fought against the cage. Sanchez acknowledged the lack of action.
“I’m my worst critic. To me, it was a boring fight. Every time I would throw a combo, he’d tie up with me and he’s a big dude,” explained the California native. “I noticed I was pushing the fight more. Once he couldn’t take me down in the first round, I think that really dampened his party.”
One impressive feature that came out of Sanchez in his fight was his ability to throw devastating combinations when he was in close. According to him though, he just loves to try to get that knockout.
“As a fighter, I haven’t been in the game too long. I haven’t reached my potential. I listen to my corner. Boxing is part of the game and I have been working on my boxing extensively. I love the knockouts, which is why I throw the big combos.”
When he knocked out Mario Neto in his UFC debut back in September 2006, Sanchez was summoned shortly thereafter to take on a devastating striker in Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Sanchez never got into a rhythm and fell pray to his strikes. Now with Cro Cop losing his last two fights, the talk of a possible rematch has started to surface.
“That came up at the post fight interviews. That’s definitely in the back of my mind to definitely rematch the guy who I have my only loss to. But that’s in the back of my mind. What’s in the front of my mind is climbing the ladder and getting the gold around my waist.”
Sanchez’s second consecutive victory moves him one step up in the heavyweight division towards title contention. With Randy Couture’s resignation and the uncertainty of Andrei Arlovski’s contract, a couple more wins for Sanchez could see him vying for the title.
“The heavyweight division nowadays in the UFC is definitely more stacked than it was a couple years ago. I’m right in the middle of things. I’m probably going to have to beat two top-level guys to get a shot.”
Winning a title isn’t everything to Sanchez though. He just loves the sport and wants to enjoy the ride.
“My ultimate goal in this fight game is to be prosperous and win and enjoy it, you know? I want to get the title of course, but more than anything I want to enjoy the ride and fight my ass off.”