CAPE TOWN – Adrian Sanchez has what we call ‘dog’ inside of him.
It was easily identifiable at EFC86 in Johannesburg this past weekend when he faced adversity during his lightweight fight with Roderique Kena (4-5).
The DRC’s Kena earned the first momentum of the fight on the feet with some good striking which saw him hide solid right-hand punches behind a decent left jab.
There were moments where it seemed as if the South Africa’s Sanchez - who also proudly embraces his Spanish heritage - lacked sufficient lateral head movement, however, taking Kena’s strikes with aplomb.
Kena continued to build good combinations on the feet and at one point even practiced accurate wrestling defence when Sanchez tried to take the man down.
While all of this played out, the Cape Town-based Sanchez kept coming forward and seeking ways to break his opponent. It was in the second round where Sanchez unleashed an effective leg kick which was followed by a left fist to the ID of Kena which possibly saw the tide turn.
Following a strong round two finish from Sanchez, the bout still looked very much in Kena’s favour.
Cue round three, Sanchez turned on the dog in the third and added the volume of work, implementing nice clinchwork and footstomps against the cage to an already cut Kena before earning time on his DRC-opponent’s back. It was still a close fight with the DRC athlete showing resilience, refusing to tap at one stage when Sanchez locked a rear-naked choke in on a bloody Kena.
The judges ended up giving Sanchez the close win (29-28 Sanchez, 29-28 Kena, 29-28 Sanchez).
While lots of Kena’s fans thought he did enough to win the fight, credit had to be given to both fighters for putting on a display of grit and athleticism over the three rounds.
Speaking to Sanchez over the weekend, it was clear that adversity is something he has become accustomed to dealing with, whether it be in the hexagon or in life.
“A lot happened recently in my life, things were okay, then things got worse and worse and worse for me,” said the PFC Gym athlete who - like so many people during the coronavirus pandemic - faced lots of obstacles, be it domestically or in the workplace.
“But God is good, bru. He always works in mysterious and wonderful ways. With the platform I have, I want to share a message of hope and be an example of God's grace and power. He always has a plan, he is in control of everything man, and those who stay close to him will have their needs fulfilled, in his time.”
Sanchez, now 2-1 in the EFC lightweight division, believes that he is currently the best lightweight in Cape Town and is keen on taking on anybody on the Extreme Fighting Championship lightweight roster.
“The one guy I was looking to fight, who happens to come from Cape Town, is Saxon Delafield (6-4-1 No Contest).
Saxon is considered one of the elite in the lightweight division and in his last fight at EFC83 went the distance with lightweight top three athlete, Anicet Kanyeba (the fight went in Anicet’s favour via a unanimous decision).
“Saxon has got the experience, he has been around, and I have a lot of respect for him,” says Sanchez of the Pride Fighting Academy athlete.
“I believe he is not in the country at the moment, so if he is not, well then … Look, I am not here to say ‘I don’t want to fight this one or that one’.
“At the end of the day, we are going to be fighting each other. If you are doing well, and I am doing well, we are going to cross paths. Cole Henning (3-1-1 No Contest), Anicet Kanyeba (13-10, lightweight interim champion), Alain Ilunga (13-5), Joe Cummins (6-1, undisputed lightweight champion). I am not scared to call the champ’s name out. I see myself competing at their level already. I just need to prove myself,” added Sanchez.
The DRC’s Ilunga beat his countryman, Anicet Kanyeba for the interim lightweight belt this past weekend and will now face the EFC lightweight king, England’s Joe Cummins to unify the belt as soon as pandemic and the subsequent restrictions allow.
For the full video interview with Adrian Sanchez, visit MzansiMMA’s YouTube channel (Independent Media’s official combat sport content provider).