With all the talk surrounding the state of the UFC’s welterweight division, especially in terms of contendership given Nick Diaz’s potential suspension/retirement and an upcoming bout between Josh Koscheck-Johny Hendricks, original Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez wants to make sure the public hasn’t forgotten about him. Sanchez fights Jake Ellenberger tomorrow night in the main event at UFC on Fuel 1 where the winner will emerge with a solid winning streak against a handful of apt adversaries.
“You know, this is a big fight with Jake Ellenberger because I believe he is one of the top guys in the division,” said Sanchez at the show’s open workouts. “He has more momentum than a Koscheck or a Hendricks right now, and I think a win over him is going to set me up in a good position in the division and a shot at the title.”
Ellenberger is coming off a knockout win over former Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields, improving his record inside the Octagon to 5-1 with the lone stumble involving a Split Decision loss in his UFC debut to Carlos Condit.
“The fact that people aren’t talking about me for a title shot doesn’t bother me,” Sanchez continued. “It’s alright. Ellenberger has five wins in the UFC and some impressive ones. It all gets factored in. I have two Fight of the Nights but, for me, to get that title shot I’m really going to have to earn it. So I’m going to have to go in there and beat the guy who everyone says is going to get the title shot. I have to go in and beat him and I have to beat him convincingly and that’s what I came to Omaha to do.”
The bout also happens to be occurring in Ellenberger’s proverbial backyard of Omaha, though for Sanchez the location matters little based on the maturing he’s done as a professional Mixed Martial Artist.
“There’s no added pressure fighting him in his hometown. I used to get involved in mind games, the fight before the fight. The mental and psychological aspects of the head games. When I was younger I used to think that was part of it. If you could beat a fighter before you even got into the ring then that was part of it,” the 23-4 Sanchez explained. “But now I’ve realized that once they lock the door it’s just two guys, two men. The decisions that they made in their training camp, the decisions that they made with their life, that’s all that matters and what’s in their hearts.”
Catch Ellenberger and Sanchez scrap when things fire up on Fuel TV at 8:00 PM EST. Other bouts include heavyweight action featuring Philip De Fries vs. Stipe Miocic and Stefan Struve vs. Dave Herman.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC