Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez had a busy year in 2015. He fought four times, going 3 and 1, bringing his Bellator record to 4-1 overall. He racked up impressive wins over fighters like UFC veteran Justin Lawrence, former King of the Cage Champion Henry Corrales, and Costa Rica’s Alejandro Villalobos. His only blemish from the past year came by way of former featherweight champion Pat Curran. Up to that point, he hadn’t lost inside of a Bellator cage. While many would consider his 2015 run as a very impressive one, Sanchez had a little different take when he spoke to MMALatestNews.com.
“I look at the positives and negatives to [it],” explained Sanchez.”…now, I am looking to do something completely different here, I fought too many rounds in 2015. I wanted more finishes. I pride myself on being a finisher and I know that I can go out and finish. So in 2016, if there [are] less fights and [they are] all finishes, I will take that. I want to go out and put on great performances, but I want to finish fights like I know I can.”
“El Matador” says that 2016 will be “an even bigger year.” It all starts with his fight this Friday against UFC veteran Daniel “The Pit” Pineda at Bellator 149 in Houston, TX.
Sanchez, who trains in Milwaukee with the renowned Roufusport MMA Academy, is very pleased with how his camp has gone. A week out from his fight he is weighing about 150 pounds and is expecting to weigh a little less on Monday before he travels to Houston. Training at a gym with so many great fighters and champions, like Ben Askren and Anthony Pettis, makes it easier for him to be prepared to make the Featherweight limit of 145 pounds.
While he “has never had a nutritionist or anything” Sanchez said that he learns a lot from his team by seeing “how different fighters do things” and by doing so, he has found what works for him, allowing him to compete at his best. Like most MMA fighters Sanchez trains year round. He is always ready for the next fight and was already back to training, getting ready to “go out and take care of business again”, when Bellator sent him the contract to fight Pineda just two weeks after his decision victory over Justin Lawrence back in November.
Some fighters and trainers might take a look a Pineda’s record and notice that he has never won a fight that went the distance. They might think that it might be a smart game plan take him deep into the later rounds of a fight. Then, if you thought you were ahead on the score cards you could ride it out and play it safe for the easy win. Another glaring statistic is that he has 15 submissions victories out of his 21 wins and he has finished his last three opponents via submission. A statistic like that would tell most people that Pineda should have the advantage should the fight go to the ground. Sanchez, however, is confident that no matter where the fight goes he will be victorious.
“I am looking to go out and exploit all the holes and win by submission or knockout…”
His entire outlook going into this match exudes confidence and it really doesn’t matter to him where the fight goes. If it remains standing or goes to the ground Sanchez is looking for one thing, a finish. “Honestly… I believe I can beat him everywhere,” said Sanchez. “I believe that I am better at every single aspect of the game. If we were to start a Jiu-Jitsu match – on our knees or standing – yeah, he might have the edge. He might be able to catch me but this is a mixed martial arts fight.”
Sanchez went on to comment about the flaws in his opponent’s record stating that Pineda has, “…been finished more than once”. Sanchez wasn’t specific about a strategy but he made it clear that he’s keeping his eyes open for weaknesses. “I am looking to go out and exploit all the holes and win by submission or knockout,” said Sanchez. “I want either of the two.”
Another thing that people may speculate about is the fact that the winner of this bout may very well become the next in line for a shot at newly re-crowded two-time Bellator Featherweight Champion Daniel Straus. Sanchez however doesn’t concern himself with those thoughts. He gets the questions and he is used to them but you will never hear him complain if the fight doesn’t happen.
He just feels fortunate to be at this point he is in his career, staying busy for the last year in a half, being signed with a great company like Bellator, and being able to do what he loves to do. “There is no need to make a campaign,” Sanchez says. “When the time is right, it will be there.” Only focusing on what is in front of him, he knows that by taking care of his opponents one fight at a time, and “moving the needle” in the process, he will earn that title shot. That is the same advice he would give to guys just starting in the sport. Be patient and put in the work and your time will come, just as it did for him.
“I have fought in pretty much all my opponents backyards. Unless I fought in Milwaukee, all my opponents were hometown heroes and I was getting booed, so I am used to it.”
Pineda will also be the hometown favorite in this fight. Born in Dallas and now living and training with the 4 oz Fight Club in Houston, the Texas crowd will undoubtedly be behind him. As you might guess, that doesn’t bother Sanchez either. Being from Milwaukee, he says this is just, “the same ole’ dance.”
“This is not the first time,” said Sanchez. “I have fought in pretty much all my opponents backyards. Unless I fought in Milwaukee, all my opponents were hometown heroes and I was getting booed, so I am used to it. I have tough skin… we see it this way, it’s a fight… I am going to come into your backyard and I am going to mess you up.”
With his record sitting at 12-2 and being 5 fights into his Bellator career, many would feel that at this point in his career, every one of his next fights is his ‘toughest fight’. Stress and pressure would be expected but Sanchez would be the first to tell you that there is no pressure at all and that he never feels any type of pre-fight anxiety.
No nerves, just faith. To Sanchez, his faith is “everything.” It not only motivates him during a fight but it drives him throughout his training camps and his career. He knows that he is on the right path in life and feels very fortunate to be able to do what he knows he is meant to do. He sees his gifts inside the cage as a blessing, a blessing that he will use until he sees the signs that it is time to call it quits. At 25 years old that type of purpose and understanding is something that we all can admire and after what we saw in 2015, don’t expect for Senor Sanchez to see those signs anytime soon.
Along with faith and patience, taking care of business is the theme that is repeated over and over again in the fighting life of Emmanuel Sanchez. However, there is one thing that he does get tired of. Tired of thinking about his opponent and having to answer the same questions about him. Sanchez is more about action. Living in a city that is known for “cheese, brats, football [and] baseball” would have to make the grueling nature of training and making weight that much tougher. As “El Matador” puts it, “someone has to suffer for this if I have to suffer… I really want to get this over with and enjoy a slice of pizza.” Just make sure you make it with plenty of vegetables because chances are he will be back in the gym on Monday.
Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut
MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.
Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.
‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”
Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?
I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.
Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?
Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.
Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?
Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.
There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.
Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?
I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.
Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?
The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.
Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?
Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.
You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.
Exclusive: Andrey Koreshkov eyeing fight with Rory MacDonald
Former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov is coming off of an interesting past two years. In 2015 he beat current welterweight champion Douglas Lima, via a dominant unanimous decision, in order to win the welterweight title. He returned in 2016 and beat former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson via another dominant beatdown. It seemed like Koreshkov was going to be the champion for a very long time, making elite fighters look like they had no business being in the cage with him.
Koreshkov’s world came crashing down one night in Isreal. The Russian was beating Douglas Lima in a rematch, he was up 20-18 on the score-cards, and it seemed like he was going to walk away with another successful title defense. Koreshkov forced Lima’s back against the fence and started winging punches at him, Lima started to do the same as he looked to get off the fence, and then it happened, a huge left hook caught Koreshkov on the chin and it was lights-out. Lima was once again champion, and Koreshkov’s reign was cut short.
What was next for Koreshkov after losing the title? Perhaps a move to middleweight? Bellator’s middleweight division has fewer contenders than the welterweight division and could promise a quicker path to the title for the Russian. Koreshkov is a big welterweight, standing at 6’1, he certainly wouldn’t be small in the higher weight class. Speaking to MMA Latest, Koreshkov was quick to shut down the idea of moving up. “No, no, I work hard at welterweight and I’d like to stay there.”
Sticking with welterweight, Koreshkov knew it was going to be tough to get another title shot after his fight with Chidi Njokuani, but he seems to know the key to fighting for the title “It’s not about how many wins, but rather, the quality of my wins”, with that in mind, he promised the gameplan against Njokuani was to “stand and bang”. Koreshkov fulfilled his promise, against Njokuani he came out guns-blazing, giving Njokuani all he could handle on the feet before eventually taking him down and finishing him with some nasty ground and pound.
Koreshkov also got the chance to explain who he’d like to fight next, should he not get a title shot. “I don’t have any favorites, I know that there are a lot of tough fights at my weight class, but if I had to choose, I would say Rory MacDonald.” Unfortunately for Koreshkov, MacDonald is booked against his former opponent Douglas Lima, as the two are set to fight for the Bellator welterweight title in January.
A fight against MacDonald would promise fireworks as the two are known for their ruthless style. There’s a strong chance Koreshkov may get his chance against MacDonald next, as the former champion is certainly either next in line for the shot, or set to fight the loser.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016. James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.
After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.
Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.
Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”
His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.
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