Looking back on his 2019, featherweight Emmanuel Sanchez feels like the year went well, but it didn’t live up to the high standards he has for himself.
In two bouts last year, Sanchez went 1-1, closing out 2018 with a unanimous decision loss to Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for the Bellator featherweight championship in November.
“It was good, but I felt like it could have gone better,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com. “Good isn’t good enough. I’ve got to go out there and achieve greatness.
“I like to stay active and I like to stay busy (but I only fought twice) because I was waiting for the title fight. The title fight didn’t go my way. I’m not discouraged. I’m not disappointed. It’s motivated me to work harder in 2019.”
One area that Sanchez did see a lot of positives in was his growth not only as a fighter but as a person as well.
“I’ve matured,” said Sanchez. “As the years and time goes by, you’re growing and learning and evolving, but you mature.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about the fight game; judges and judging, and the way fights are judged. I’m making those improvements to get those more dominant performances and finishes.”
Following his original opponent dropping out, Sanchez (17-4) is now looking to get back on track against Georgi Karakhanyan (28-8-1) in a rematch of their 2017 bout in the 145-pound main event of Bellator 218 on Friday in Thackerville, Okla.
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“It was a bit of a shocker and surprise (to get Karakhanyan again),” Sanchez said. “You never know if they’re going to move somebody up on the card, if they’ll find a replacement, if (who they approach) accepts the fight, and Georgi accepted the fight.
“He’s a top, tough, great fighter. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a lot of finishes. He comes to bring it. That’s what excites me and motivates me is that I’m going in there against another killer.”
For Sanchez the goal going forward is to work his way back towards title shot, no matter when or where or against whomever it takes.
“I’m on the road back to gold,” said Sanchez. “I’m going to take it one day at a time, one fight at a time, one year at a time, etc., etc., to get that shot and get that belt.
“I hunger for that belt, that title, and to have ‘world champion’ come after my name. I hunger getting my hand raised. I hunger feeling satisfied getting my hand raised and saying I did that. I don’t want to have those should haves, would haves, could haves. I’m hungry and determined to go out there and get my hand raised.”