Diego Sanchez will enter UFC 180 as the veteran and likely favorite in his match with Norman Parke.
However, Sanchez believes all the pressure is on Parke to score a finish in their bout.
Sanchez (25-7) is coming off a split decision win over Ross Pearson that snapped a two-fight losing skid. He talked with Submission Radio recently about Parke and his comments regarding how he planned to defeat the former Ultimate Fighter winner.
“The pressure I feel is on Norman because he’s the only who’s been running his mouth,” Sanchez said. “You know, this guy has the nerve to say that he’s going to kick my (expletive) head off, clean off. Clean off. He should have taken a line out of (Conor) McGregor’s book.
“But you know it’s on him. He has to come and try to take my head off. Because as far as I’m concerned, from all the fight footage that I’ve been watching, this guy has pillow punches. I’m not concerned with his power at this moment, but at the same time I don’t want to take hits that I don’t have to take. And if I can get this guy down and beat him up, I’m gonna take him down and beat him up, and if I have to fight him standing, I’ll fight him standing.”
Sanchez, a long-time member of the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym out of New Mexico, has been working with fighters in bigger weight classes to prepare for Parke (20-2-1), who is unbeaten in his last 11 fights overall. That includes four UFC wins and a recent TKO victory over Naoyuki Kotani.
“I’m actually getting a lot of time in with the bigger guys in this training camp. I think my size advantage in this fight is gonna play a big part. Me being the bigger man and I’ve just been getting back to what got me there,” he said. “A lot of time I train with bigger guys and I have to make up for that strength and size advantage over me, and I adapt to get stronger. I’ve been working with Tim Kennedy and the Jackson squad is full of talent, so it’s been good.”
In his career, Sanchez has scored six knockout and nine more submission wins, getting finished himself just once. He has earned seven “Fight of the Night” honors and three of his bouts have received recognition for “Fight of the Year” by an array of outlets.
That style, though, has also led to losses for Sanchez. Now, he’s trying to focus on getting the “W” and moving on.
“I would like to finish this guy and whether that be grappling finish or a striking finish. Whatever it is, I just wana finish this guy and I wanna make the statement with this guy, and you know I’m prepared. I’ve been doing a lot of speed training. I’m prepared for this guy to run away from me and try and play the stick and move game, and I got some amateur boxers that are working with that style,” he said. “Everyone wants to see me do what got me there and that’s to take people down and beat the heck out of them, but sometimes it goes that way, sometimes it doesn’t; but I think, what is the mindset of making myself (feel like) ‘I have to get to the ground, I have to get the fight to the ground’ and having that mindset, instead of just being so lackadaisical and the mindset like ‘okay, this guy can’t knock me out? Alright, let’s bang.’
“Like ‘let’s fight, let’s throw down.’ Like there are two different mindsets and me as a mixed martial artist, I have to be smart enough and wise enough to put them both together the best that I can.”
The UFC 180 card takes place November 15 on pay-per-view from Mexico, marking the first event in the country for the UFC. Cain Velasquez will defend his heavyweight title in the main event against Fabricio Werdum.