Emmanuel Sanchez has been waiting a long time to get another crack at Daniel Weichel.
More than three years after dropping a split decision to the German contender, “El Matador” will meet Weichel for the second time in the Bellator featherweight grand prix quarterfinals early next year.
Sanchez chose to fight Weichel during the selection process for the grand prix bracket on Saturday at Bellator 228. Earlier in the lottery, Weichel opted for a fight in February 2020, but at the time he didn’t know who his opponent would be. Sanchez said he would’ve rathered to fight earlier, in either December or January, but this just means he’ll have more time to prepare.
“He knows he didn’t beat me,” Sanchez said of Weichel at the Bellator 228 post-fight press conference. “That’s one thing for certain. That’s something that I’ve been thinking about and wanting back for a long time. Now I have the opportunity to, on a much bigger platform, with a lot more on the line. And now the fight will be five rounds, not three. So, it’s something I’m very excited for.”
Weichel politely shut down any talk of Sanchez deserving the nod in their first fight, which took place in the summer of 2016.
“I know for myself that I beat him,” Weichel said. “But it was a close fight, I know that. I’m looking forward to the fight. Sanchez is one of the best featherweights, and that’s what I’m looking for: beating the best out there, and he’s one of them.”
Weichel earned his spot in the quarterfinals by beating Saul Rogers by unanimous decision on Saturday. He entered the fight on a two-fight skid, which included a title fight against Patricio Freire and a one-fight stint at lightweight, so for Weichel, this was more than just continuing on in the tournament.
“I tried to not have it on my mind, but I think it’s impossible when you’re coming from two losses, even when those losses were against two very tough opponents,” Weichel said. “But I tried to put my focus on Saul as a fighter. I took him as seriously as I take any fight.”
Weichel admitted he had a slow start in the fight, but said things picked up as the three-round bout went on.
“It took me quite a while to find my rhythm, to get the distance that I could pick my shots better in the later rounds,” Weichel said. “It felt a little bit rough to get into the fight, but I kept going while the fight was continuing.”
Sanchez vs. Weichel 2 is on the same side of the tournament bracket as the Freire vs. Pedro Carvalho title fight, meaning the winner will challenge for the belt in the semifinals. Sanchez said he didn’t expect this to be the case, but he’s not complaining.
Sanchez and Weichel have both fought Freire – Weichel twice – so if the Brazilian gets past Carvalho, the semifinal bout will be a rematch either way.
“I’m surprised to be on the same side (of the bracket) as the champion, I wasn’t expecting that,” Sanchez said. “But this will make it that much sweeter – go out and be victorious in February, and then we’ll see the winner of Pitbull and Carvalho.”