Ready to face Thiago “Pitbull” Alves at UFC 90, Diego Sanchez wants another victory that will put him directly for a title shot. In an exclusive interview with TATAME.com, Sanchez spoke about the expectations for the fight, Thiago’s last fight against Matt Hughes and how would be a fight between him and St. Pierre. Check below the exclusive interview with the athlete, that made his bets on Dream’s middleweight GP and his beginning in MMA.
How is the preparation to face Thiago Alves at UFC 90? What are your plans for this fight?
I’m preparing and doing some striking, preparing for any situation if can’t get him to the ground and have to stand with him, just like in my last fight with Luigi Fioravanti, I had to stand with him and strike, so I ‘m prepared to do it again. I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter and I’ll always be a ground fighter, with wrestling and submission. If I earn the submission of the night or the knockout of the night it would be awesome.
We spoke with Thiago and he said he’ll win by knockout… What do you think about that?
He’s a very one dimensional fighter, he likes to stand up, his ground game is his weakness, so it would be his best mind set if he try to knock me out. He’s a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for him, and that’s what I was expecting for him to say, that he’s gonna try to knock me out.
Did you saw his last fight with Matt Hughes?
I think that he didn’t make weight and I believe that if he did make weight it would make the difference in the fight, because he would be less physically strong. When you cut 30 pound for a fight it really make difference to your conditioning, when you go to the second of the third round it’ll make a difference. I also think that Matt Hughes learned about that fight in short notice, but everybody in Mixed Martial Arts knows that that was not the old Matt Hughes. Matt is declining on his way out the top contenders… The new evolution of the fighters, the younger fighters are starting to take over. I think that if were any other top younger the same thing would happen.
Dana White said that the winner of this fight will get a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. How important is that for you to train even more to beat Thiago?
This is the fight of my life. I’m preparing, I’m training the harder I can for this fight. I’m doing a lot strength training, submission, but my biggest strength is my heart, conditioning, technique and I feel that these three things are going to be the biggest factor in this fight. Once I show the pace I put in this fight… I’ll put a pace he never felt before.
Beating him, how do you think would be a fight between you and GSP?
Right now there’s only one man in my vision and this is Thiago Alves, but a fight with St. Pierre would be a great fight, with St. Pierre or BJ Penn. Whoever wins that fight, it really depends what’s going on that fight, BJ and St. Pierre fight in January, but I’m constantly improving my ground game, my striking, and I still have a lot of time to get better and prepared, and I’m not even close to be as good as I can be. I’m working with the best ground fighters of the world, Xande Ribeiro, Saulo Ribeiro, (Ronaldo) Jacaré… I got all these wonderful teammates and we’re just training hard and getting ready, and I don’t think Thiago will be ready for what I prepared for him.
Why did you decided to train with Saulo, Xande and Jacaré at Universidade do Jiu-Jitsu?
Because I never trained in the gi before and Saulo always were one that I saw back in Abu Dhabi days when he was competing… We have some mutual friend, I moved to San Diego and said to Saulo I wanted to train with him and now, one year and a half later, our team has (Fabrício) Morango, in our MMA team, and Xande is fighting, Jacaré, André Galvão, we’re training here and we’re all getting better.
Xande will make his MMA debut now in Sengoku… How do you think will be his fight?
Xande is very talented, he picks up very fast and I think he’ll do great in MMA, he’s striking are improving a lot really, really fast. I think that if he fights the right strategy he’ll be a champion and won’t get longer to him get his belt.
Jacaré is on the Dream’s middleweight GP… Do you believe on his winning this GP?
All I have to say about Jacaré is that I think he’ll be the champion real soon, I think he’s gonna win the Dream’s championship and… Watch out Anderson Silva, because is there somebody else that can beat him, this man is Jacaré. If you get in here and train with this guy you see… There’s no stopping his takedowns, his striking are getting better and better, and if this guy gets you on the ground is so another game, his ground game is different, he’s one of the best ground player in the world, he has the wrestling skills and strength to beat you, take the fight to the ground it would be bad for him.
Who do you think is the best pound for pound fighter in the world?
That’s, without as doubt, Fedor Emelianenko. He’s been there for a long time and he still is.
How did you start fighting MMA?
I was a wrestler and I was the state champion in New Mexico and I love wrestling. I continued to win in submission grappling tournaments, and I just started fighting, trained Boxing and everybody else were calling and fight is all I got, I love to fight and I’m not afraid to fight anybody.
When you decided to start in MMA, how did your family react?
My family is all completely behind me. They all believe in me and they’re all very proud of me.
Send a message for your Brazilian fans.
I love the Brazilian culture and can’t wait to go down there. When Saulo and Xande go to Brazil I’ll go see the beautiful country where a lot of my friends are from… Continue watching me represent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the ground.