In picking up his first win of the year with a split-decision victory over Daniel Pineda in February at Bellator 149, featherweight standout Emmanuel Sanchez feels he was able to prove that he is ready to take the next step in his career having defeated one of his toughest opponents to date.
“Daniel Pineda was a great, aggressive fighter, and it helped proved and showed what I could do against a guy with such high-level experience, and not only that, but a guy who’s never won by decision, and that’s very impressive in itself,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com.
“I didn’t feel in any way shape or form that I survived, for me, I was able to honestly take the best he had to hit me with his onslaught and use it against him. I broke him slowly and eventually it allowed me to win the fight.”
The win over Pineda was Sanchez’s third straight split-decision victory. And while he’s happy to have picked up the wins, he by no means wants to make it a habit of having such close fights in the future.
“I pride myself on being an intelligent, aggressive fighter. Not just for the fans, but for myself and well-being,” said Sanchez. “I’m nobody’s punching bag. I don’t take punishment. I want to go in there and break them down piece by piece.
“I never saw myself as winning split-decisions and being the split-decision king. I’ve always wanted to go out there and finish fights. In no way shape or form am I on top of someone trying to ride the last two minutes out. I’m throwing elbows, punches and everything I can that’s legal to finish the fight.”
Sanchez (13-2) will look to pick up his fourth win in-a-row when he takes on veteran Daniel Weichel (36-9) in a main card 145-pound bout at Bellator 159 on July 22 in Mulvane, Kansas.
“He’s evolved well from his previous fights to his last fight as well,” said Sanchez of Weichel. “That goes to show that he’s hungry, and that’s good, because you’re going to get two forces that are going to meet in the middle and it’s going to come down to who’s going to break – and I’ve never been broken.
“It’s a battle of wills and intelligent. I’m going to go out and use his strength against him and break him with my will and my rhythm and my speed and my strength.”
Having picked up five wins in six Bellator fights so far, Sanchez believes a title shot could be right around the corner with a solid performance on July 22.
“I believe it will come my way,” Sanchez said. “You’ve got to believe in what you’ve worked so hard and prayed for.
“(Weichel has) fought for the belt and his name’s been in the hat for a while, and I’m honored and flattered that my name is in there as well. I feel like I’ve go out and prove to the fans, Bellator, everyone and myself that decision wins aren’t just enough. I plan to go out there and leave no doubt who the victor is and that I deserve the shot.”