The fight game is at times an ugly competition. But 100 percent of the time, it's all business inside the UFC‘s Octagon.
For UFC 166 lightweights Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez, their prior dealings with each other mean they'll have to put whatever relationship they had to the side so they can handle business Saturday night in Houston.
Sanchez, reflecting on the days when he and Melendez used to be training partners, said that this is something they always knew they would have to prepare for.
“We know each other really well. We've trained together,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com. “We always brought the best out of each other in the training, so we knew if we ever had a fight we would bring the best out of each other.
“Our styles are a contrast of styles. Styles make fights, and these styles make for an excellent fight, a really awesome fight. Those are the fights that when you're old and retired, you look back and you're like, ‘Oh, those were the best fights.' They bring out that heart, that passion, that drive, and the inner warrior. That's the type of makings that this fight has.”
While Sanchez said he looks forward to having the best brought out of him by his upcoming opponent, Melendez gave a much more forward expectation for the contest.
The former Strikeforce lightweight champ told MMAWeekly.com that he's glad the two fighters didn't get too close when they were sparring partners. This allows him to go into Saturday's match-up with no hesitation on pushing things to the furthest limit possible.
“I'm glad we didn't really get that tight and build that relationship too, too tight,” Melendez said. “So I have no problem fighting him, and I have no problem trying to kill him.”
Those who know Melendez can read through that statement and realize there is no animosity towards Sanchez. More accurately, it's a testament to Melendez's desire in bringing the fight to his opponent in the hardest way possible.
But when asked about what he thought about Melendez's comments, Sanchez had a fire lit under him. His response: he damn well better try.
“I'm ready to rock n' roll. I'm ready to turn it on,” Sanchez exclaimed. “When I walk down and you feel my music and when it goes off, you guys are going to know. You guys are going to know what's up. If he says that he's going to come and kill me, well he better come and try. I want him to come and try. I don't want him to run all night.
“I believe in my training, and I know I have the experience. When it goes down, I have no doubts because I know I did everything possible to outwork this guy. I was the one that was up at five in the morning, running at 8,000 feet altitude for five miles, then going to Jackson's and going to practice later on in the evening. I was the one doing that stuff. I don't know what or how he was training. All I know is that I did the stuff I knew he wasn't doing, the stuff that's going to make a difference in this fight.”
Sanchez added that he thinks his training camp, including the level of his sparring, was and is on a completely different level than Melendez's. While giving his opponent credit for being one of the best in the world in the weight class, Sanchez said a win on Saturday would mean great things in his rise up the 155-pound rankings. And a finish, Sanchez said, will have more of an impact than any comments about killing each other will ever have.
“I knock out the guy that beat Josh Thomson twice, then I feel like I'm right there in the running,” Sanchez said of Melendez. “I feel a strong victory over Gilbert Melendez makes a definite statement.”