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Sanchez gunning for gold
In every UFC fight card that's ever been made someone has to come in as a larger than life favorite, and their opponent in turn has to be rated as the biggest underdog facing insurmountable odds.
With 18 fights in the UFC to his credit including his time as a contender at both welterweight and lightweight, Diego Sanchez gets the honor of having the greatest odds stacked against him heading into this weekend at UFC 166.
Sanchez is a whopping +550 underdog in some sports books against Melendez, who comes in as high as a -800 favorite depending on where you look. It's not the first time the former Ultimate Fighter winner has been counted out before the fight even began, but Sanchez knows the odds are just numbers.
They don't control the fight, and they certainly don't control his preparation, which he believes has been flawless as he gets ready for Melendez.
"It doesn't bother me at all," Sanchez told FOX Sports. "I've been dealing with this my whole life whether it's rankings, odds, when they count me out it only makes me stronger. When they write me off, I only go longer. With this fight, it's all in the training. As you get more experience and become a veteran of this sport you realize, it all comes down to the training. It's earned. Victories are not deserved, victories are earned."
Sanchez has been in this situation before against other top notch competition and he still managed to come out on top. By his own admission, however, Melendez will be rated as the biggest favorite that he's ever faced inside the Octagon.
That just means a win will go a lot further in this fight.
"The best example would probably have to be maybe Nick Diaz. I was an underdog going into the Nick Diaz fight, he had just knocked out Robbie Lawler, they counted me out in that," Sanchez said. "There's been a lot of fights, but more or less this is the biggest underdog I've ever been."
Sanchez doesn't care too much if he's being counted out because he knows a win on Saturday puts him right back in the position he was gunning for when he made the decision to drop back down to lightweight after a four fight run at welterweight.
He's looking at Melendez as a fast track to the gold where he is targeting a new champion by mid-December.
"I believe a dominant victory over Gilbert Melendez will put me right back, knocking at the door for a title shot," Sanchez said. "Gilbert Melendez beat Josh Thomson, the guy who's fight for the belt twice. I believe Josh Thomson will defeat Anthony Pettis, and Anthony will move down to featherweight."
Whether Pettis or Thomson come out on top in their championship fight in December, if he can't land the winner, Sanchez is happy to face another contender on his journey back to the belt.
"I feel it's going to put me right at the door knocking for a title shot. If not maybe a fight with TJ Grant after to establish a No. 1 contender," Sanchez said.
Odds or not, Sanchez is awfully confident that he can put Melendez away in impressive fashion and remind everyone just why he's been a top contender in the UFC from the first day he stepped into the Octagon.