Over the course of his first five years fighting, featherweight Emmanuel Sanchez had never been forced to pull out of a fight. Unfortunately Sanchez’s streak ended when he had to drop out of his scheduled bout with AJ McKee at Bellator 166 last December.
“Last year I had to pull out of a fight for the first time ever and I was crushed,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com. “But it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Thankfully nothing was broken, I was able to get patched up and get back in there right away.”
Sanchez was able to return a month later to face Georgi Karakhanyan at Bellator 170, but even getting to that fight was difficult.
“What a road it was even before Georgi,” said Sanchez. “I cut my finger getting my dinner ready. I had to get stitches in my finger. So on top of the whole being hurt and having to pull out of a fight, I had a cut finger and couldn’t fight.
“Finally I healed up and was able to go out and showcase my skills against Georgi. It was a big win for me. I needed that one.”
Sanchez followed up his majority decision win over Karakhanyan with a unanimous decision victory over Marcos Galvao in March.
“Fighting (Galvao) right there in between Chicago and Milwaukee, to me it’s home, and it was just amazing,” Sanchez said. “I grew up going to the AllState Arena as a kid, and now to say that I’ve fought there too is incredible.”
Now Sanchez (15-3) looks to pick up his third straight win when he takes on former title holder Daniel Straus (25-7) in a 145-pound co-main event of Bellator 184 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla.
“He comes forward, he’s experienced, he throws down and is an exciting fighter,” said Sanchez of Straus. “He’s a former champion, so this is a huge test in front of me. This is another mountain that I need to climb and get over to prove that I should be at the top.
“I have nothing but respect for Daniel, but I know with my speed, my endurance and my desire to go out there and make a statement, I can put him away and come out on top.”
While people have had Sanchez earmarked for great things in Bellator since he debuted, he’s more focused on his upcoming bout on October 10.
“People have been asking me about the title since I signed with Bellator,” Sanchez said. “It’s one fight at a time. I’m fighting a former titleholder and it’s huge, so my focus is on Daniel.
“I know there’s Pitbull (Freire), (Daniel) Weichel, (Pat) Curran and all these guys who are up and coming, but first thing’s first and that’s Straus. I don’t think about the title, I just think about Daniel, doing what I love and coming out on top.”