LAS VEGAS — After an intense stare down with his opponent Michael Chiesa, Diego Sanchez isn’t shy about expressing what he wants to do once the cage door closes.
And it goes way beyond the limits of fighting.
“My mindset is to kill,” said Sanchez, during his Thursday media session here for UFC 239 that takes place at the T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas Saturday night. “I feel as a fighter should feel when he’s about to take someone’s life.
Sanchez isn’t keen on being cordial with Chisea unless he proves something inside the octagon and fears the consequences if he were to do so before the time comes.
“I’m here to ruin him — I’m coming with that mindset and mentality,” said Sanchez.
“I’m not here to hug him and give him a handshake. If he chooses to respect me and be my friend after the fight, that’s on him. If he earns my respect in the fight, I’ll give him mine.
“If my mindset is weak and says respect and shake hands, I may pay the price later on in life.”
“The Nightmare” is riding a two-fight win streak and when he steps into the octagon next, the 37-year-old will become the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to compete in 30 bouts.
As well, Sanchez (29-11) won the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, and began his career with a 17-fight win streak and later fell just short of the UFC lightweight title with a loss to hall of famer B.J. Penn.
Although he has yet to claim UFC gold, Sanchez’s resume is still held in high regard.
Going into this fight after competing in four different weight classes, and spending over a decade with the esteemed Jackson’s MMA gym, Sanchez decided to make changes.
And the decision was based off of time, energy and love
I was at the bottom of that list of priorities,” said Sanchez, following a recent move away from Jackson’s. “Priorities were on the young—up and comers with title fights. I know the importance of who I am. For me to not make the switch would be foolish.”
Jackson’s MMA has been home to numerous UFC champions including the current UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones who defends his belt Saturday against Thiago Santos in the main event.
The belief in Sanchez is also in the back of odds maker’s minds, as he currently stands as a +275 underdog.
A winner of 18 bouts for the promotion, Sanchez thinks he knows why that is the case.
“People in power know what I’m about to do to this man,” said the Albuquerque, New Mexico native. “They’re going to make a lot of money on it and that’s why the odds are what they are.”
No matter what the Vegas lines state, the 2019 UFC Hall of Fame inductee for his legendary fight with Clay Guida, plans on surprising the fans come Saturday.
“You’re going to see a complete, well rounded fighter. We’ve been working on my movement getting this machine to fluidly move better.
“I got a flow from my spirit and in my mind.”