Dave Meltzer looks into some of the more mature decisions Stevenson has made in his life that could potentially make a difference against Sanchez this weekend:
Over the past year, largely due to him thinking it was a better place to raise his four young children, he moved from Las Vegas back to Victorville, Calif., the small desert town he grew up in, and opened up his own gym, Joe Stevenson’s Cobra Kai gym. He said he found Las Vegas a great place to visit, but not a great place to live, and that he has plenty of good training partners where he lives.
He knows this fight could revitalize his career, but that a loss at this point would be the worst blow to his career. So he’s buckled down on his discipline.
“I haven’t had a drink in a year,” he said. “I haven’t chewed tobacco in three months. It’s a year-around job. If you have a fight coming up near the holidays, you don’t celebrate the holidays until after your fight.
“You can celebrate the night of the fight, but you have to get back in the gym after because the competition is.”
He cites his kids as his motivation in a fight he needs to win to stay at least within shooting range of future main event fights.
“It makes me run an extra mile or do an extra round,” he said, “because I have to do more than the other guy.
“I think I have to be in better shape [than Sanchez]. I have to be stronger. I have to be a better striker, a better wrestler. I’ve got to do all those things well because there are so many ways to win and lose. I’m not trying to be the best every day. I’m trying to be the best on that day.”
Fair enough, but Sanchez's legendary tenacity and offensive-opportunistic style is kryptonite against Stevenson, who has shown a propensity to be overwhelmed by adept, aggressive grapplers. Grapplers with what I call "transition and position emphasis" that can also use balance, base, posture and submission defense to unload ground and pound also give Stevenson trouble. There's little doubt Stevenson is an excellent submission wrestler, but his willingness to play defense too long in the face of heavy storms has been - and likely will be this weekend - his undoing.